WCAG 2.0 – The Simple Version

Trying to get a handle on the WCAG 2.0 from the W3C website can be an onerous task.   The guidelines are quite comprehensive but it can take hours to wade through all the details.   In a nutshell, here’s what you need to keep in mind when building or retrofitting your website.

  • Provide Text Alternatives
    • Have an alt tag for all images to describe them. If you have background images, include an alt tag but leave it blank (alt="")
    • If you have audio or video files on your site, include a text transcript.
  • Make the Site Keyboard Accessible
    • Any user should be able to use your site without needing a mouse.  Can you use the tab key to move between fields in a form?  Can site navigation be controlled with keyboard strokes?
  • Provide Enough Time
    • If you have session timers on your site, make sure they can either be manually extended or disabled.  Some visitors may need more time than you’re providing to complete tasks on your site.
  • Adaptable, Distinguishable, Readable
    • Build the site so that it can be viewed in different formats without losing the structure or meaning of the content.
    • Ensure the design provides good colour contrast to improve readability.
    • Avoid the use of jargon in your content.  Your content should be easy to understand.
  • Navigable
    • Help users find content on your site.  Include a site map of your content.
    • Use a logical structure for your site navigation.
  • Predictable
    • Use a consistent structure throughout your site.
    • Keep main areas in the same spot on all pages e.g. navigation always on the left, contact information always in the footer
  • Input Assistance
    • If you have forms on your website, include error messages that explain what needs to be corrected.
    • Avoid using the colour red for error messages.  Some individuals have difficulty seeing the colour red.
  • Compatible
    • Build your site so that it’s compatible with a variety of browsers and assistive devices.

Following these guidelines not only makes your site accessible to more people, it also makes it more usable to the average visitor.

More details on each of these guidelines can be found at the WCAG section of the W3C website.