Levels of Website Accessibility (WCAG)

Universal Handicap Symbol

As covered in a previous blog, making sure website accessibility is included in the design process is probably the simplest way to ensure it happens.

But there is still a need for testing. 

We need to know what to test for. The guidelines issued by the W3C give a starting place

The standards outlined in W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are organized into three level; A, AA and AAA.

Level A cover the most basic web accessibility features and is the minimum standard a website should meet. For example, the WCAG guideline All non-text content that is presented to the user has a text alternative that serves the equivalent purpose, except for the situations listed below. A solution at this level would be providing a transcript for pre-recorded audio.

Level AA requirements ensure that content achieves a greater degree of accessibility People with disabilities will have an easier time accessing content that meets Level AA criteria than they would with content that only meets Level A. A solution at this level.  A solution at this level would be providing an audio description for pre-recorded audio.

Level AAA is the highest and most complex level of web accessibility.  This level includes additional requirements, some of which enhance those established in Level AA criteria.  For pre-recorded audio, sign language interpretation should be implemented.

A quick reference to the WCAG guidelines can be found here: How to Meet WCAG 2 (Quick Reference)

Remember, Level A is the minimum a website should meet for the page to be considered accessible.  Level AA is the level most websites should strive for, this should also ensure compliance with the 508 Standards.  Level AAA is the “Holy Grail” of accessibility, but whenever possible the WCAG standards at this level should be implemented.

The next post will cover methods and tools to test a website for the WCAG standards.

Web Accessibility Quick Checklists

It’s important to ensure that the websites you develop and work with at least meet the minimum standards of accessibility, especially the 508 Standards.  The easiest way to accomplish this is make the checklist part of the initial design and workflow.

Much of this blog was inspired by several presentations at WordCamp Atlanta 2019, particularly the presentation by Joseph LoPreste of StPeteDesign.

The checklist below will assist in making a website 508 Compliant.

  • Make sure all images on your site have alt-text tags – People using screen readers don’t see images, so make sure that the alt-text of each image is descriptive – especially if the image contains text.
  • Make sure that each field in every form on your site is properly labelled – Without labels, forms will not be viewable on screen readers.
  • Make sure your site can be navigated using only a keyboard – Not everyone uses a touchpad or mouse, so make sure that there aren’t any features on your site which requires them.
  • Make sure your videos are setup for Closed Captioning. You must make sure that all videos you create have a manuscript for the Closed Captions. Also, provide an Audio transcribing for non-audio videos or animations.
  • The color of any given content cannot be the only indication of value or what it is.
  • Make sure there are flexible time limits associated with the website or software. Check that auto updating, moving, blinking, and scrolling content can be paused or adjusted.
  • Make sure to include a skip navigation link or something equivalent, so the user can bypass repetitive content.
  • Make sure that user Input errors are identified and described in the text to the user.
  • Make sure your font size is at least 18+.
  • Make sure that your contrast is at least 3:1 for links and 4.5:1 for all other content.
  • Make sure that all of your link texts are descriptive.
  • Make sure that all documents on the website (not external links), such as PDF or Word are fully accessible

There are automated tools and plug-ins which can identify most of the above when a website nears completion.-

The next blog post will cover several of these.

Section 508 and Website Accessibility

The standard Handicapped sign of  a stick figure in a wheelchari
Handicapped Sign/Logo

In 2018 it’s estimated that there were almost 3000 lawsuits filed under the ADA (Americans for Disability Act) in the US. The 2017 estimate for these lawsuits was only a little more than 800.

The lawsuits are being filed under ADA Section 508 which states that all information and electronic technology must be made accessible to people with disabilities. Similar standards are required in the EU.

Section 508 requires all entities with “places of public accommodations” to provide website and app accessibility to people with disabilities.   In the US, this has been the Federal Government and contractors who deal directly with the Federal Government.  By extension, this also covers State and Local Governments as well. 

Most of the current lawsuits are being filed against NGO’s and private businesses are only for compliance and legal fees, not damages. These issues are still being litigated in State and Federal Courts.

At the WordCamp Atlanta, there were several presentations on how to check to make sure your website meets the Section 508 standard.

The next blog post will have a checklist for helping meet the 508 Standard.

March 2019 US Disability Unemployment Rates

March 2019 Unemployment Rates
Table A-6 and A-2
Bureau of Labor Statistics, USDOL

Persons with a Disability 

Unemployment Rate 7.9%       Participation Rate 21.5%  

Persons without a Disability 

Unemployment Rate 3.8%       Participation Rate 68.5%


Unemployment Rate 12.1%    Participation Rate 33.3%

Estimate of the number of people with a diagnosed or undiagnosed Learning Disability


Next release date is May 3, 2019.

Presentations and Accessibility

Accessible Educational Materials Logo
Accessible Educational Materials Logo

The National Center on Accessible Educational Materials presented a webinar on August 21, 2018, on making presentations accessible. The video shows techniques to make PowerPoint, Keynote and Google Slides accessible.

The webinar, which is closed captioned, is available for replay here:

Accessible Presentations: How to Design and Deliver Content for Diverse Audiences

The slide deck and digital handouts are also available.

The Web, Accessibility and Word Camp Atlanta 2018

Word Camp Atlanta 2018 (a weekend for learning about Word Press) was held the weekend of April 14 and 15th. The theme this year was Diversity.  As part of that, there were several presentations on accessibility.  The presentations were in addition to the Keynote from Aimee Copeland.

The three sessions covered Reasons for website accessibility, how to evaluate a website for accessibility and how to build an accessible website.

The specific presentations were:

Making the case for accessibilityChristine Laikind

Evaluating the Accessibility of Websites with Web-Based Tools, Web Resources, and Plugins (Full Session)Kim Camp Smalley

Building Accessible Websites: Your New SuperpowerMelanie – G Adcock

The presentations were recorded and like most Word Camp presentations will be online within the next few months.  The links will be posted when they become available.

Word Camp Atlanta 2018 Logo