The Accessibility testing is a fundamental quality assurance process integral to the development and deployment of digital assets, such as websites, software, and applications. Its primary objective is to ascertain the conformity of these assets to accessibility standards and guidelines. This ensures their usability by individuals with disabilities.
It employs a comprehensive evaluation of design, functionality, and content. This aims to identify and rectify any impediments that may impede individuals with disabilities from accessing or engaging with digital assets. Web Content Accessibility Guideline compliance testing aims to provide an equitable user experience by removing barriers to entry and interaction. This encompasses aspects such as screen reader compatibility, keyboard navigation, and strict adherence to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Ultimately, thorough accessibility testing services can promote inclusivity, safeguard against legal risks, and enhance the reach and effectiveness of digital offerings across diverse user demographics.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a set of technical standards that help to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. WCAG was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), and it is the most widely used web accessibility standard in the world.
Four principles of WCAG:
Perceivable: Web content must be perceivable by all users, regardless of their sensory abilities.
Operable: Web content must be operable by all users, regardless of their motor abilities.
Understandable: Web content must be understandable by all users, regardless of their cognitive abilities.
Robust: Web content must be robust enough to be compatible with a wide range of user agents, including assistive technologies.
WCAG 2.1 and WCAG 2.2 are the two versions of the guidelines. The former was released in 2018 while the latter was released in 2023. WCAG 2.2 is backward compatible with WCAG 2.1. In short, the websites that conform to WCAG 2.2 also conform to WCAG 2.1. Both the guidelines include a set of success criteria that define specific technical requirements for web content. The success criteria are organized into four levels: A, AA, AAA, and Level AA + Additional Success Criteria. Level A is the minimum level of accessibility, and Level AAA is the highest level of accessibility. To conform to WCAG 2.1 or WCAG 2.2, a website must meet all of the success criteria at a given level.
Why is WCAG important?
WCAG is important because it helps to ensure that everyone has equal access to the web. When websites are not accessible, people with disabilities may be unable to use them. This can prevent them from accessing important information and services, such as education, employment, and healthcare.
There are several benefits to following WCAG guidelines, including:
Improved user experience
Adhering to the Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) offers a significant advantage in enhancing the user experience. This makes digital content more user-friendly and inclusive for all individuals, including those with disabilities. By following these guidelines, websites and digital platforms become more accessible, ensuring that everyone, regardless of their abilities. Everyone can navigate, comprehend, and interact with the content effectively.
Adhering to WCAG guidelines is not just a matter of good practice but also a legal necessity for organizations. It ensures compliance with accessibility laws and regulations that safeguard the rights of individuals with disabilities. These laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Web Accessibility Directive in Europe, mandate that digital content must be accessible to everyone.
Reduced risk of lawsuits
WCAG guidelines serve as a proactive measure to mitigate the risk of legal action associated with web accessibility. In an era where digital interactions have become ubiquitous, the legal landscape regarding accessibility has evolved significantly. Laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and international accessibility regulations have established clear requirements for digital inclusivity.
By following WCAG guidelines, organizations can demonstrate their commitment to ensuring equal access for individuals with disabilities. Compliance not only minimizes legal risks but also fosters a more inclusive and socially responsible digital presence. Ultimately, organizations that prioritize WCAG guidelines contribute to a more inclusive and equitable digital environment for all.
Latest success criteria added in WCAG 2.2
WCAG 2.2 is the latest version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which are a set of standards for making web content accessible to people with disabilities. WCAG 2.2 success criteria are built on WCAG 2.1 by adding new guidelines related to mobile accessibility. These success criteria address important issues for people with disabilities who use mobile devices.
The following are the nine new success criteria added in WCAG 2.2:
2.4.11 Focus Not Obscured (Minimum)
This success criterion requires that focus indicators must be both readily visible and easily distinguishable when they are in focus. It ensures that when a user interface component gains keyboard focus, none of its parts are obscured by content generated by the author.
2.4.12 Focus Not Obscured (Enhanced)
This accessibility guideline requires that focus indicators be visually distinct when they receive focus. This success criterion guarantees that when a user interface component gains keyboard focus, no element of the component is obscured by content. It maintains accessibility and usability for all users.
2.4.13 Focus Appearance
This success criterion calls for focus indicators to have a high contrast with the surrounding content. It ensures they are easily visible, particularly for users with low vision. To meet this requirement, focus indicators must be at least as large as a 2 CSS pixel thick perimeter around the unfocused component or sub-component. Additionally, it should maintain a 3:1 contrast ratio between focused and unfocused states.
2.5.7 Dragging Movements
This criterion requires keyboard compatibility for dragging actions, crucial for users with mobility disabilities. It emphasizes that all drag-based operations should ideally be accomplishable through single-pointer actions unless dragging is essential or determined by the user agent without author modification.
2.5.8 Target Size (Minimum)
This criterion mandates touchscreen-friendly target sizes, essential for users with mobility impairments who may struggle with small taps or clicks. Target sizes for pointer inputs must be at least 24×24 CSS pixels, except when:
Spacing: Smaller targets are placed to avoid overlapping with others or their 24px circles.
Equivalent: Function can be achieved using a different control on the same page meeting this criterion.
Inline: Target size is line-height constrained or part of text.
User-agent control: Target size set by the user agent, unaltered by the author.
Essential: Specific presentation is legally required or vital for conveying information.
3.2.6 Consistent Help
This criterion emphasizes the need for uniform and precise help text across a website for users with cognitive disabilities. Consistency and accuracy in help text are essential to ensure that users can easily comprehend and rely on the information provided. When a web page incorporates certain help mechanisms—such as human contact details, human contact methods, or fully automated contact methods—they must maintain the same order concerning other page content throughout a set of web pages.
3.3.7 Redundant Entry
This criterion ensures users can avoid redundant data entry, a critical consideration for those with cognitive disabilities. Data already provided is either automatically filled in or accessible for user selection in the same process, except when re-entering is vital, for content security, or when the prior data is no longer valid.
3.3.8 Accessible Authentication (Minimum)
This success criterion requires accessible authentication methods, including alternatives like text-based authentication, for users with disabilities. Cognitive function tests, such as password recall or object recognition, are required in the authentication process only when specific conditions are met, ensuring flexibility and accessibility.
3.3.9 Accessible Authentication (Enhanced)
This criterion underscores the importance of making authentication methods accessible to users with disabilities while eliminating the need for cognitive function tests. This accommodation is particularly crucial for users with cognitive disabilities who may encounter difficulties when cognitive tests are required in the authentication process. Unless specific conditions are met, cognitive function tests should not be a mandatory part of the authentication process, allowing for alternatives and mechanisms to ensure accessibility.
These new success criteria in WCAG 2.2 address a wider range of accessibility needs and help to make the web more accessible for everyone.
In essence, adopting WCAG guidelines is a strategic choice that not only safeguards against litigation but also aligns organizations with the principles of equity, inclusion, and digital accessibility, contributing to a more inclusive and equitable digital landscape. WCAG 2.2 builds on WCAG 2.1 by adding new guidelines and success criteria, and by clarifying and updating existing ones. These success criteria address a wider range of accessibility needs, including the needs of users with cognitive or learning disabilities, users with low vision, and users with disabilities on mobile devices. Following WCAG guidelines is important because it helps to ensure that web content is accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities.