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WCAG Guidelines

The WCAG is a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) recommendation for ensuring that people with disabilities can use your software. In other words, these are the industry standards (and now the US federal standards) for an accessible website.

The WCAG guidelines are broken into four principles: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust. Each principle offers guidelines – basic goals that websites should strive toward. Each guideline has multiple examples of success criteria. These criteria are graded at three levels of conformance: A (lowest), AA, and AAA (highest). Section 508 requires at least A and AA conformance.

For each set of guidelines and success criteria, the WCAG also provides documented techniques for meeting the guidelines.

The goal of this list is not to recreate what the WCAG has already done. It is to document a way to test websites for accessibility that’s more detailed than what I can generally find online. It’s to give me (and anyone else reading) something to build a plan off of.

And yes, I’m probably reinventing the wheel.

(Note: I’m not a trained tester so a lot of this is me winging it. Add comments for suggestions on individual items I could do better.)

Principle 1 – Perceivable

Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.

Guideline 1.1 – Text Alternatives

Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language.

Guideline 1.2 – Time-based Media

Provide alternatives for time-based media.

Guideline 1.3 – Adaptable

Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure.

Guideline 1.4 – Distinguishable

Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.

Principle 2 – Operable

User interface components and navigation must be operable.

Guideline 2.1 – Keyboard Accessible

Make all functionality available from a keyboard.

Guideline 2.2 – Enough Time

Provide users enough time to read and use content.

Guideline 2.3 – Seizures

Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures.

Guideline 2.4 – Navigable

Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are.

Guideline 2.5 Input Modalities

Make it easier for users to operate functionality through various inputs beyond keyboard.

Principle 3 – Understandable

Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.

Guideline 3.1 – Readable

Make text content readable and understandable.

Guideline 3.2 – Predictable

Make Web pages appear and operate in predictable ways.

Guideline 3.3 – Input Assistance

Help users avoid and correct mistakes.

Principle 4 – Robust

Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.

Guideline 4.1 – Compatible

Maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies.