Web Content Accessibility Guidelines [WCAG]

In the years since the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), companies have been striving to make their websites more accessible.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were released to help websites meet the needs of people with disabilities.

While these guidelines were a good starting point, they were somewhat limited in scope. WCAG 2.0 has recently become the standard rubric for websites to follow to ensure that they are accessible to all visitors.

While WCAG 2.0 has not yet been officially approved by the Department of Justice, it is already in widespread use. Read on to learn more about WCAG 2.0 and its importance for website design.

WCAG 2.0 is built around four principles. The four principles of WCAG 2.0 are perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust, or “POUR.”


“Perceivable” refers to accessibility for vision-impaired people.

The web page will be visited by users with different types of perceptive preferences and by robots. Because of that fact, we need to provide the information and interface that will give them alternatives. When the user can’t use one of his senses, provide text alternatives, time-based media, present content in different ways, separate background from foreground. First example – text alternative – you can choose between visual, or tactile way. A combination is also possible. It’s important to give users choice because a deaf person can understand an audio file when the text alternative is available on the screen.


“Operable” covers accessibility for people who cannot use a keyboard or mouse and people who have seizures or reading disabilities.

Site’s visitors are using different devices to browse. The interface and navigation elements need to give a chance for everyone to operate it. Every feature must be operable by a keyboard input, any time limits while visiting the site should be eliminated, avoid flashing visual content, and keep information clean.


“Understandable” relates to accessibility for people who have cognitive disabilities.

Do not allow visitors to get lost during browsing. All information must be user-friendly, easy to find and understand. Provide simple content language, containing headings, titles, video, and images. Design the content in a clear way. Ensure consistency of the layout of the page, trim items that may change the content or context in a way that is confusing to users. Your website needs to prevent users from making mistakes and help them to repair them if they occur – include expected form data, clear descriptions, clear validation, etc. Highlight or visually show errors.


“Robust” supports compatibility with assistive technologies like screen readers.

Do not neglect the site’s compatibility with current and future technologies. Take care of a clean and organized code and validation – according to standards.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are divided into three levels: A, AA, and AAA.

Level A is the most basic, it represents the minimum of accessibility standards for the content on the web, and it’s very similar to rules outlined in Section 508.

Level AA includes more rigorous guidelines that much improve the accessibility, and it deals with the most common barriers for users with disabilities.

Level AAA is the most complex level of web accessibility.

Meeting level AA guidelines means meeting everything that is included in A and AA, while achieving level AAA means meeting all guidelines from A, AA, to AAA.

If you are creating a website, it’s a good way to start with a Level A, help your users and try to make progress to the next level. Level AA is mainly used by governments and offices because this level targets the biggest number of common issues for web users.

Currently, only very few websites are achieving Level AAA compliance. Because of high requirements, it is problematic to a get this compliance across the whole website. This is often unrealistic. But it’s also not considered a worthwhile investment for business websites. That is why most websites in the world remain at the A and AA levels.