As more and more information is shared and consumed online, it is important to ensure that digital content is accessible to everyone and to bring in digital inclusiveness. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 1 billion people, or about 15% of the world’s population, are living with some form of disability.
This includes physical, cognitive, sensory, and mental disabilities. There are several guidelines and standards that have been created to help ensure that digital content is accessible to everyone, including WCAG, ADA, Section 508, AODA, and EN 301 549.
1. WCAG Compliance
WCAG, or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, is a set of guidelines created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to help make digital content more accessible. These guidelines are broken down into four principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. Each principle has a set of success criteria that must be met in order for digital content to be considered accessible.
This principle focuses on ensuring that digital content can be perceived by all users. This includes providing alternative text for images, providing video captions, and ensuring that color is not the only means of conveying information.
This principle focuses on ensuring that digital content is operable by all users. This includes things like providing keyboard navigation, ensuring that content is not time-limited, and ensuring that users can pause, stop, or hide moving content.
c.Understandable: This principle focuses on ensuring that digital content is understandable by all users. This includes using clear and simple language, providing instructions that are easy to follow, and ensuring that users are not required to remember large amounts of information.
d. Robust: This principle focuses on ensuring that digital content is robust and can be accessed by all users, regardless of the technology they are using. This includes things like ensuring that content is compatible with different web browsers and assistive technologies.
2. ADA Compliance
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. This includes discrimination in the digital realm. Under the ADA, digital content must be accessible to people with disabilities, including people who are blind, deaf, or have mobility impairments.
3. Section 508
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act is a federal law that requires federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. This includes things like websites, software, and electronic documents.
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is a provincial law in Ontario, Canada that requires all organizations to make their websites and digital content accessible to people with disabilities. This includes providing alternative text for images, providing video captions, and ensuring that content can be navigated using a keyboard
5. EN 301 549
EN 301 549 is a European standard that provides guidelines for making digital content accessible to people with disabilities. This standard is based on the WCAG guidelines and includes additional requirements for things like mobile accessibility and the accessibility of PDF documents.
Adhering to these guidelines and standards is crucial for improving the user experience and ensuring equal access to information for everyone. By making digital content accessible, organizations can increase their reach and ensure that everyone has equal access to their products and services. It is also important to note that accessibility is not just a legal requirement, it is also a moral imperative.
By making digital content accessible, organizations are helping to create a more inclusive society where everyone has the opportunity to participate and contribute. In today’s digital world, accessibility is not just a legal requirement but also a smart business decision. You can read about how you can put together a business case for accessibility by reading this article