Making accessible websites ensures that they are usable by the widest range of users, but also ensures your site is easier to read and navigate. It is important to make these changes to your websites to accommodate a variety of disabilities. For example, many people with visual disabilities use screen readers which read aloud information on the screen such as text or image descriptions provided through alternative text (Alt Text).
If you plan, format, and structure your website correctly in the beginning, it will ensure the site is not only accessible but can also be viewed and the content is usable for everyone.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) explains how to make web content accessible to people with disabilities. There are four guiding principles (P.O.U.R.):
- Perceivable - Information and user interface must be presented to users in ways they can perceive.
- Operable - Users must be able to use the interface. It cannot require interaction that a user cannot perform.
- Understandable - Users must be able to understand the information as well as how to use the interface.
- Robust – Users must be able to access the content as technologies advance. In other words, as technologies and user agents evolve, the content should remain accessible.
How to Meet WCAG 2.0 - a checklist
Ontario Regulation 191/11, section 14:
- By January 1, 2014, new internet websites and web content on those sites must conform with WCAG 2.0 Level A.
- As of January 1, 2021, all internet websites and web content must conform with WCAG 2.0 Level AA, other than, success criteria 1.2.4 Captions (Live), and success criteria 1.2.5 Audio Descriptions (Pre-recorded).
There are many tools used to author html code for websites pages. Queen’s University uses the web publishing tool WebPublish. Even though several web publishing tools and WYSIWYG webpage editors exist, it is important to note that using these tools alone does not guarantee accessibility. There are many principles and practices, listed in this guide, to employ to ensure proper website accessibility.