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Does your company have a website? You probably answered yes (because who doesn’t anymore?) – which means you need to understand how the web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 apply to your organization. To make a long story short, the purpose of WCAG 2.0 is to make the Internet more inclusive for all. (That’s a good thing!)

It’s important to remember that these are internationally recognized guidelines. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) makes it very clear that discrimination against people with disabilities is illegal, and that they must have equal access to any services provided by government, businesses and other organizations.

To ensure your website is accessible to all users, the WCAG 2.0 specification describes these four principles:

1. Perceivable

Think about how we use sight, sound and touch to perceive what is around us. Some users may face challenges with one or more of these senses and require technology to assist them when browsing your website. One common application we recommend is adding ALT tags to images so site readers can describe the image to the user.

2. Operable

The operable principle refers to the diverse ways users browse the web. Some users rely on a keyboard to navigate a site as opposed to a mouse. When optimizing a site for maximum operability, ensure that all functionality (e.g., browsing, form filling) can be achieved using only a keyboard. This allows users to tab to links and forms, scroll through options and use keyboard shortcuts. The main takeaway for this guideline is that if a user can navigate to a section of the page using only the keyboard, they also need to be able to move away from that section using only a keyboard.

3. Understandable

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? To ensure your website understandable, the best advice we can give is to be clear with your terminology. All phrases on your site must be understood by assistive technologies so they can correctly present the content to the user. Avoid unusual or inconsistent functions so site readers are able to accurately relay your messages to users. If your website is constantly refreshing, automatically changing content or opening new windows without user action, it will be very difficult for assistive technologies to convey these actions to the user. (And everyone will be confused!)

4. Robust

To make sure your website follows the “robust” guideline, all of your content should be able to be accessed consistently by as many assistive technologies as possible. This principle is the trickiest because it not only refers to existing technology – but also technology that is predicted to exist in the future. (Predicting technology…sounds easy, right?)

A key point to remember: When content is added to your site, it is stored in the background as data and then presented on your website in an organized format (e.g., paragraphs, columns, charts, etc.).

Feeling overwhelmed? We get it – it’s a lot to digest. However, because ADA requires equal access to any services provided by government, businesses and other organizations, this information is critical to understand and apply.

At Achieve, we recognize that your team needs to focus on your mission – not the continuing evolution of technology standards. That’s where we come in. We have developed an evaluation tool that will identify errors and alerts on your website and provide recommendations for correcting them. Sometimes the best course of action is to develop a new website that’s clean, responsive and robust, and we can help.

Our mission is to give our clients the tools they need to change the world. Let us worry about WCAG 2.0 for you, so you can focus on what’s important – furthering your mission and reaching your goals. Our CEO Clay Williams and I will be hosting a free webinar on the legal problems WCAG 2.0 is creating for organizations on July 20. We’ll share the resources you need to ensure that your organization is complying with all web accessibility guidelines. Can’t make it? Go ahead and register anyway because we’ll be sending the presentation and slides to all registered attendees.

Do you know if your website is ADA compliant? Use these free tools to find out!