Web Accessibility Standards

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People with or without disabilities have different degrees of capabilities, software, and hardware that they use to access resources on web sites. Users with disabilities may not be able to see, hear, or process some types of information; may have difficulty reading or understanding text; or may not have or be able to use a keyboard or mouse. Various estimates put the percentage of web site visitors that have some kind of disability at 10 to 30 percent. The following are reasons why a web site should be designed so that people with disabilities can easily use it. Designing for accessibility will:

  • Improve the usability of the web site for all visitors, including those with disabilities such as blindness or visual impairments, hearing impairments, physical disabilities, and cognitive difficulties.
  • Help people understand the content of web pages regardless of the user agent they have (e.g., desktop browser, voice browser, mobile phone, or automobile-based PC).
  • Help people use web pages regardless of constraints they may face (e.g., noisy room, glaring lights, hands-free environment, slow connection speed, or vision and attentionf ocused elsewhere).
  • Help people find information more quickly by removing barriers related to design and navigation, such as poorly organized information, unexplained graphics and images, uncaptioned audio or undescribed video, and lack of color contrast.

Organizational Statement

The CAHELP values diverse experiences and perspectives and strives to fully include everyone who engages with the organization. Therefore, CAHELP is committed to ensuring that individuals with disabilities have an opportunity equal to that of nondisabled peers accessing CAHELP programs, benefits, and services, including those delivered through information technology. The CAHELP strategic plan for web accessibility establishes a foundation for equality of opportunity and provides guidance to ensure equal access to information technology the CAHELP purchases, creates, and uses, such as websites, software, hardware, and media in accordance with applicable state and federal laws including, but not limited to, Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as amended.

Accessibility Standards

The following is a set of accessibility standards provided by the Word Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) that are commonly recognized by governments and organizations

  • Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 (applicable to all web content and applications, including on mobile, television, and other delivery channels);
  • Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) 2.0 (applicable for websites that provide users the opportunity to generate content, such as adding comments, posting to forums, or uploading image or videos; also relevant if an organization provides tools, such as content management systems (CMS), for staff or customers to manage websites and content); and
  • User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG) 2.0 (applicable when additional plug-ins, such as media players, are provided to deliver content or when custom controls are developed to provide nonstandard functionality. UAAG may also be relevant where mobile applications deliver web content as part of the application, and to the procurement process if your organization provides browsers for staff).

Given the CAHELP's commitment to providing accessible opportunities and environments, it looks to the W3C WCAG 2.0 Level AA and Web Accessibility Initiative Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) 1.0 as a target for meeting these commitments. The most current version of the WCAG 2.0 includes success criterion (WCAG Guidelines) organized under four principles, which provide the foundation of web accessibility. The four principles have been adopted by the CAHELP.

  1. Principles of Accessibility (P.O.U.R.)
    • Perceivable. Information and user interface components must be presented to users in ways they can perceive;
    • Operable. User interface components and navigation must be operable;
    • Understandable. Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable; and
    • Robust. Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.

    CAHELP online content shall be Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust. Content Developers and Approvers, webmasters, procurement officials, and all others responsible for developing, loading, maintaining, or auditing web content and functionality shall implement the accessibility standards to ensure compliance with the CAHELP's underlying legal obligation to ensure individuals with disabilities are not excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or otherwise subjected to discrimination in any of the CAHELP's programs, services, and activities delivered online.

  2. 12 WCAG Guidelines
  3. Under the four principles of accessibility there are 12 WCAG guidelines that provide the framework and overall objectives to help Content Developers and Approvers, webmasters, procurement officials, and all others responsible for the developing, loading, maintaining, or auditing web content and functionality, understand the success criteria and better implement the techniques to meet accessibility standards. In its adoption of the four principles of accessibility, the CAHELP ensures that online content and functionality shall be developed in accordance to the 12 WCAG guidelines in each principle of accessibility.

    Perceivable

    1. Guideline 1.1. Text Alternatives: Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language;
    2. Guideline 1.2. Time-based Media: Provide alternatives for time-based media;
    3. Guideline 1.3. Adaptable: Create content that can be presented in different ways (i.e., simpler layout) without losing information or structure; and
    4. Guideline 1.4. Distinguishable: Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.

    Operable

    1. Guideline 2.1. Keyboard Accessible: Make all functionality available from a keyboard;
    2. Guideline 2.2. Enough Time: Provide users with enough time to read and use content;
    3. Guideline 2.3. Seizures: Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures; and
    4. Guideline 2.4. Navigable: Provide ways to help users to navigate, find content, and determine where they are.

    Understandable

    1. Guideline 3.1. Readable: Make text content readable and understandable;
    2. Guideline 3.2. Predictable: Make web pages appear and operate in predictable ways; and
    3. Guideline 3.3. Input Assistance: Help users avoid and correct mistakes.

    Robust

    1. Guideline 4.1. Compatible: Maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies.

     

  4. Levels of Conformance
  5. W3C WAI guidelines provide three levels of conformance: Levels A, AA, and AAA:

    1. Level A: Establishes a baseline level of conformance, and covers a basic set of core accessibility issues (such as alternate text on images and captions and videos);
    2. Level AA: Includes additional success criteria such as providing a visible focus indicator for keyboard users, and ensuring sufficient color contrast; or
    3. Level AAA: The highest level of conformance. Conforming to WCAG 2.0 at Level AAA would mean all 63 success criteria have been met.

    Level AA shall be the designated benchmark for measuring accessibility of CAHELP online content and functionality. Conformance to Level AA requires that CAHELP meet all Levels A and AA success criterion. Levels of conformance are based on impact on individuals with disabilities, feasibility, and other factors. Each of the success criteria under each principle of accessibility is identified with a conformance level. CAHELP shall ensure that all of its websites and web applications, both customer-facing and for internal use, conform to all Level AA success criterion.