Accessibility is more important than ever in 2020

Accessibility marking in a parking spot

What is WCAG?

WCAG, or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, is a set of standards published by the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).

The four principles

In order to meet the requirements for providing a good user experience for disabled individuals, the WCAG has come up with four principles. Namely; Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust. Let’s take a look at these principles a little closer.

Perceivable

The perceivable principle suggests that you need to provide a text alternative to any non-text content on your product. It also says you need to provide alternatives to time-based media, create content that can be presented in different ways (simpler layout), and make it easier for users to see and hear content.

Operable

This principle recommends that user interface components and navigation must be operable. This suggests things like making all functionality available through a keyboard, not design content in a way that causes seizures, and aids the user in letting them know where they are in navigation or product.

Understandable

The understandable principle states that the content on a user interface needs to be understandable to the user.

Robust

This suggests that the product needs to be compatible with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies.

WCGA 2.0 vs 2.1

The standards were recently updated to a new version called the WCGA 2.1. The new version just builds on the first one and exists to make the guidelines future-proof. A significant update to the current guidelines can be expected in the coming years but for now, let’s take a look at a few noticeable additions to the current version(WCAG 2.1)

  • The orientation of the screen — Websites are required to be built for both portrait and landscape orientations. Developers need to make sure they put effort into making their websites responsive.
  • Reflow while magnification — For people with visual impairments like poor eye-sight and users with cataracts need the elements in the UI to reorganize when they zoom in. Designers are required to make sure the elements are still organized in a particular way so that they don’t look disorientating to handicapped people.
  • New hovering rules — WCAG 2.1 requires websites to have navigation menus that expand not only to a mouse hover but also to a click from a mouse or a keyboard input. This is to make sure that even people without a mouse can navigate the site without any issues.
  • Naming labels — The new guidelines require the accessible name of an element to be the same as the name of the label so that it is easier for users of screen readers to navigate the product.
  • Status changes for screen readers — Another new addition to the guidelines is that the users of screen readers should also be notified of status changes via a sound.

Let’s talk a bit about what the role AODA plays in this

AODA, which stands for Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, exists to identify and remove barriers faced by people with disabilities.

  • Customer service standard
  • Information and communication standard
  • Employment standard
  • Transportation standard
  • Design of public spaces standard

How does this affect websites?

If you’re operating a business in Ontario, following the AODA guidelines is mandatory. This applies to all levels of government, non-profits, and private sector businesses.

The role IASR plays in this (I know, so many acronyms 😅)

In addition to complying with the regulations, companies are required to follow the IASR standards.

  • Provide training to staff and volunteers
  • Develop an accessibility policy
  • Create a multi-year accessibility plan and update it every five years
  • Consider accessibility in procurement and when designing or purchasing self-service kiosks

Why all of this matter

group of people from different background

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Hasnain Bakhtiar

Hasnain Bakhtiar

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Accessibility Evangelist & Certified UX Wizard. Perfecting the art of humanizing technology at CityWide Automation— more on HasnainBakhtiar.com