What is Accessibility?
The term accessibility when used in the context of software describes the degree to which people with physical and/or mental disabilities are able to safely use software. Disabilities range from those we easily recognize, such as deafness, blindness, and paralysis, to ones that may not be as readily apparent, such as dyslexia, epilepsy, poor eyesight or arthritis. An inaccessible website is one on which a disabled person cannot perform critical actions. A person with a certain type of colorblindness, for example, may not be able to use a form that instructs the user to “press the green button to continue.” A person who is hard of hearing may not be able to benefit from a website video that does not have closed captioning or sign language. A user with limited motor function may not be able to use a website that requires a mouse. Accessible websites consider these use cases and accommodate them.
As web design has become more complex, websites have become less accessible. Today, fewer than 5% of websites are accessible. We rely on the Internet more than ever before, Yet it has become completely unusable for a significant portion of the population.
What is WCAG 2.0?
Web Content Accessibility Standards 2.0 are a set of detailed specifications published by the Word Wide Web Consortium (W3C) which expands and improves them over time. These guidelines focus solely on the functional performance of the software. They identify a wide range of use cases for most common website elements, provide criteria for accessible design, and offer suggested techniques and common failure cases. Unlike the previous Section 508 standards, these guidelines avoid specific technical specifications, which quickly become outdated and prevent innovation.
WCAG 2.0 has already been adopted by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), and over 20 countries.