Although I do not guarantee 100% WCAG compliance for my websites (and as I explain below, such a thing doesn’t really exist), I do try to make them compliant in the ways that are most important for accessibility. The goal here is to make your site more accessible and less-attractive for accessibility litigation than the other guy’s site.
If you do require strict WCAG compliance, I have a third-party firm that specializes in accessibility that I can work with to get your site compliant.
Note that there is actually no formal certification process you can go through to have your website definitively declared “100% compliant”. There are just a set of guidelines that are somewhat open to interpretation and a continuum of compliance levels.
My Accessibility Checklist
Below are areas where I strive for accessibility compliance. Often there are exceptions that are not compliant though, that are signed off by the client. And, this list is by no means a complete list of requirements for WCAG compliance.
- Text at least 14 px in size
- Minimum color contrast rules are followed
- States are not communicated just by color
- All links are keyboard-accessible
- All navigation (menus) are keyboard-accessible
- All dynamic elements (i.e., accordions, tabs, etc.) can be operated by keyboard
- Keyboard focus is visible
- <a> tag is used for links
- Links in body are distinguished from surrounding text (usually by underlining)
- Link text is descriptive
- Only one h1 per page
- Headings should be in sequence
- Heading levels should not be skipped
- Images have alt text or captions
- Images do not have title attributes
- Video does not auto-play
- Video can be paused
- Video has accurate transcript or captions (read how to edit YouTube captions)
- Fields have label tags
- Fields are keyboard-accessible
- PDFs are accessible or have HTML equivalents. Note that making PDFs accessible is the responsibility of the client. Check out this guide on how to make PDFs accessible. Here are PDF techniques for WCAG 2.0 from W3C.
As I mentioned, this is not a comprehensive list, but rather some of the “biggies” that can have a really obvious effect on your site’s accessibility.
Tools and Resources
- On Divi sites, I use the Divi Accessibility plugin to help with compliance and identify violations.
- The A11y Project has an excellent checklist for compliance.
- WebAIM’s accessibility checklist.
- Here’s a comprehensive accessibility checklist from W3C.
Some Common Website Features that Are Not ADA Compliant
I don’t know of a third-party slider carousel that meets WCAG guidelines. The accessibility professionals who I’ve asked have told me not to use carousels on sites that need strict accessibility compliance.
Most social embeds and embedded ads are not accessible. Animation effects may not accessible, and auto-playing videos are not allowed.
Any linked PDFs need to be re-generated with accessibility in mind, and all embedded videos need captions or transcripts.
A Note About Overlays and Instant Compliance
You might have heard of services that claim to make your website “100% accessibility compliant” instantly by adding a button or “overlay”. The vast majority of accessibility experts see these services as snake oil which don’t work. Worse, they may make your site an even bigger target for accessibility litigation:
nearly all of the functionality provided by these tools has no impact on your level of WCAG conformance whatsoever. Furthermore, these overlays provide little or no additional legal protection for your website. In fact, in recent lawsuit filings, screenshots of these tools are being used to build the claim against websites that are not also seeking a holistic approach to ADA compliance. It is also a common belief that these tools may increase your risk with regards to security, and many company’s security policies prohibit the installation of widgets like these.Michele Landis, Kelly Heikkila, Jason Webb, Accessible360
So obviously, I don’t advocate using services, whether free or paid, that promise instant accessibility simply by installing a plugin or code snippet. As the quote says, it takes a wholistic approach to many aspects of the website itself, as well as offline resources like videos, embeds, and PDFs.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments about this topic! – Brian