Picture this: you’re playing a brand-new video game on your computer, but instead of clear and helpful instructions, the game uses riddles that are tough to understand. The buttons on the controller aren’t labelled properly, and some bright, flashing lights in the game make your eyes hurt. This would make playing the game a lot harder, right? Just like this game, websites can be tough to use if they’re not made to be easy and comfortable for everyone. That’s why there’s something called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG 2.0, Level AA.
WCAG 2.0 is like a rulebook that web developers (the people who create websites) use to make sure their sites are easy to understand and navigate for everyone, even people who have disabilities or difficulties in seeing, hearing, or using a mouse. Just like in a game, these guidelines tell developers how to make things easier to see, hear, understand, and interact with on a website.
Firstly, the WCAG says that everyone should be able to perceive and navigate through web content. This means using text instead of images of text, making the information bigger (up to 200 per cent) without breaking the website, having good colour contrast between text and background, and labelling buttons with words, not just with pictures, shapes, or colours. There should also be captions for all audio and video content, so people who can’t hear well can understand what’s happening.
The next part of the guidelines is about operating websites. This means that users should be able to use keyboard commands instead of mouse clicking, if that’s easier for them. There should be options to extend time limits, and nothing that could cause seizures, like flashing lights. Also, titles and headings should help people know where they are on the website.
Then, the WCAG talks about understanding the website’s information and layout. This means the website should use simple, linear layouts that are the same for each page, clear language instead of figures of speech, and clear instructions for completing tasks, like buying things or filling in forms. There should also be text descriptions of errors when inputting information, sign language interpretation, and definitions of unusual words and abbreviations, so everyone can understand what the website is trying to communicate.
Finally, the guidelines say that websites should work with a variety of assistive technologies. These are tools that help people with disabilities to use websites, like screen readers and Braille displays for people who are blind, screen magnifiers for people with poor vision, and speech recognition programs for people who have difficulty using a keyboard or mouse. The WCAG webpage gives a full list of these requirements and advice for website owners and developers on how to put them into action. By following these rules, web developers can make the internet a place that’s fun, useful, and accessible for everyone!