Web Accessibility, WCGA 2.0, and Drupal 8
Many people are asking,” What is Web Accessibility or WCGA 2.0 and why is it important to my business?” In simple terms, web accessibility is ensuring your web site’s information and application services are accessible to everyone. Particularly those with disabilities and those who are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
WCAG 2.0, also known as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, was developed to establish a set of standards for web development. It is a series of guidelines for improving web accessibility for all people and is maintained by the Worldwide Web Consortium. The guidelines were created for web developers to use as a minimum benchmark or set of recommendations to create more accessible web content. As the internet becomes increasingly pervasive in our lives through IoT (Internet of Things) integrations and the use of multi-platform hardware devices the importance of making a businesses’ technical assets accessible is becoming critically important.
WCGA 2.0 Guidelines
Built on 4 Principles.
- Perceivable – ensures that information and user interface components and applications are presentable in a way that a user can perceive.
- Operable – works to make sure the hardware and the software are working together to ensure the user is able to interact with content.
- Understandable – dictates that both the user interface and the information being presented is able to be understood by the user.
- Robust – The content meets recognized standards in such a way that it can consistently and reliably be interpreted by a wide variety of user agents and assistive technologies.
Priority Levels and Conformance Requirements
These four principles are then each broken down into three primary priority levels or conformance requirements (A, AA, AAA)
This is the point where WCGA 2.0 gets confusing to people. W3.org outlines the conformance requirements and it also includes supplemental information to help you understand the importance of this aspect of the standard. Simply stated conformance means that you satisfy the requirements of the standard and when you increase the conformance priority level the web page meets all previous level requirements. As you increase the priority levels implementing each stage is met with increasing difficulty, so much so that W3.org specifically states the following:
Note 1: Although conformance can only be achieved at the stated levels, authors are encouraged to report (in their claim) any progress toward meeting success criteria from all levels beyond the achieved level of conformance.
Note 2: It is not recommended that Level AAA conformance be required as a general policy for entire sites because it is not possible to satisfy all Level AAA Success Criteria for some content.
Based on notes 1 & 2, not all content or application features will be capable of achieving AAA conformance because it simply may not be possible. As a general rule, your business should attempt to reach level A conformance at a minimum.
At the heart of WCGA 2.0 is the ability to serve accessible content to site visitors and one of the best ways for a business to do this is to use a development tool called a content management system or CMS. It is important to note that not all content management systems and frameworks are created equally and this is especially true when it comes to WCGA 2.0. Drupal 8 is a CMS with a documented commitment and extensive developer tools for building WCGA 2.0 compliant sites. The CMS is considered one of the most secure frameworks on the web with a dedicated security team. The CMS is also a wonderful option if your web site needs advanced/custom features or has application elements. Finally, the release of Drupal 8 and its API (Application Programming Interface) first initiative your accessibility first web site will have the ability to connect to other web services making it more inclusive for all.
In this article, I addressed what WCGA 2.0 standard is and how it relates to your business. I mentioned what we believe is one of the best content management systems for building WCGA 2.0 compliant sites. In my next article, I will discuss the importance of WCGA 2.0 and why it is important for your business.
Greg Tanacea is a US Navy disabled veteran and a licensed teacher having completed the Special Education core studies. While working with the Dubuque Community School he pioneered the districts co-teaching model. This increased the inclusion of students with disabilities in the general classroom. He is currently the president and founding member of frontsidesync.io, a software development company with a focus on creating accessible web content for all people.