Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 are a set of standards that play a key role in making the web accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities. WCAG has come a long way since it was first introduced in 1999, now rolling out WCAG 2.2. However, today we’re concentrating on what WCAG 2.1 means in terms of making content accessible.
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Understanding WCAG 2.1
Up until 5 October 2023, WCAG 2.1 was latest version of a standardised set of guidelines developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Think of WCAG as a roadmap that helps web creators ensure their online content can be accessed and used by people of all abilities.
Why WCAG matters
Well, to put it simply, the web is for everyone, and WCAG helps to ensure that nobody is left out. It’s not just about following guidelines, it’s about creating a digital environment where everyone can access information, services, and products easily, without running into accessibility issue
So, what’s in WCAG 2.1?
There are four main overarching ideas in WCAG 2.1 – that guide what content should work around, and these inlcude:
This idea concentrates on the idea that content creators make sure that information and accessibility UX are presented in a way that can be undertood by all of your website/app users, no-matter what their abilities or disabilities are. Examples would include about alternative text for images, captions for videos, and content that is adpatable.
This focuses on making the UX and navigation of web platforms easy to operate. You know when you’rem frustrated because you can’t tab through a website? Examples of this would include making keyboard navigation easy, allowing users enough time to read and use content, ensuring that content types don’t trigger or make those who may have medical conditions uncomfortable.
Here, the aim is to create content and navigation that’s understandable. This means clear and consistent navigation and UX, legible text, and assistance to input text on forms for example. Ever had trouble filling out a web form? I know I have many times! WCAG 2.1 tackles that issue.
Robust content presentation
This last point focuses on ensuring that content can be reliably interpreted by a wide variety of assistive technologies, such as screen readers. It’s about making sure your website is compatible with current and future technologies.
My experience with WCAG 2.1
Working in the web accessibility field for as many years as I have, much of my work has revolved around WCAG 2.0 and 2.1. It’s not just a set of guidelines, it’s a great set of ideas that have been weaved into my general digital marketing, website design, and SEO work. I’ve seen first-hand how optimising websites for accessibility not only improves their SEO but also makes for fantastic user experience.
It’s a process of learning and then implementing the guidelines that make websites more than just functional – also making them inviting, including for individuals with disabilities, not to mention now being best practice in the design process. And the best part? It’s an absolute win-win. Websites that embrace accessibility guidelines tend to rank better in search engines, reach a wider audience, and have thge opportunity to create a more positive online connection with consumers.
Make WCAG 2.1 your ally
As I’ve gone through – following WCAG in your website and design/UX strategy can bring great benefits, more that just meeting disability regulation and expanding your reach, but also making for fantastic digital customer journies. WCAG 2.1 isn’t just a compliance checklist, it’s a commitment to digital inclusion. Whether you’re a content creator, web designer, or just someone interested in how websites work, understanding and implementing WCAG 2.1 is a positive step forward for any business. It’s a small effort that leads to a big change – a web made for everyone.