The following excerpt is from an article by Kris Rivenburgh appearing on Medium.

The Curious Question on Standards

Why the Web Accessibility Standards (WAS) if WCAG is commonly referenced?

WCAG is hard.

It’s long, difficult to understand, and you start feeling lost as you read it.

Checkout the WCAG 2.0 AA success criteria to see how bad it gets.

WAS is newly published (June 2019) and incorporates most of the fundamental principles of WCAG but is easier and simpler to deal with.

What makes a website ADA compliant is an unsettled matter of law but Assistant Attorney General, Stephen E. Boyd, has stated in a letter of Congress that entities (almost all of us — individuals, businesses, companies, organizations, etc.) have flexibility in how to comply with web accessibility.

This means you don’t have to specifically make your website accessible one exact way, but you do need to make it accessible.

WAS is way easier, it takes significantly less time to figure out and is more binary (YES/NO) so it’s easier to tell if you’re compliant.

Web Accessibility Standards (WAS) Preview

Here’s a skeleton outline of WAS:

Website Presentation

  • Descriptive text
  • Nested headings
  • Color alone does not convey meaning
  • Clear forms
  • Uniform labels
  • Clean code

Website Appearance

  • Zoom text
  • Color contrast ratio
  • Distinctive links
  • Consistent layout and navigation

Content Alternatives

  • Descriptive alt text
  • No images of text
  • Text transcripts
  • Closed captioning
  • Table data
  • Extraneous documents

User Control

  • No automatic pop-ups
  • No automatic video or audio
  • No unexpected changes
  • Pause updating/refreshing content
  • Adjust time limits
  • Important submissions

Website Usability

  • Keyboard only
  • Focus indicator
  • Skip navigation
  • Search function
  • Sitemap
  • Language

Here is the full web page version of WAS.
You definitely earned that victory lap you just took around the office by getting through the 1-minute informational gauntlet above but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, you’ve got at least another 14 minutes of hard labor to finish off this whole “make-your-website-accessible” thing.

Some quick notes:

Accessibility is not a redesign your website set-it-and-forget it thing. A very big chunk of accessibility is in how you upload media and create content. Yes, coding is a very important part of the process but it’s not the end of the story.

For example, every image, video, or audio file that you upload needs to have an alternative means of access (e.g. alt text, closed captioning, transcript).
Another important note: there is a separate set of legal best practices to web compliance as well: training, having a web page explaining your accessibility policy, appointing an accessibility coordinator, hiring an independent consultant, and inviting feedback.

For smaller businesses, you’ll likely go without the coordinator and consultant formalities above due to budget constraints, but the bigger you are, the more thorough I recommend you become with your approach to web accessibility.

Something else that will save you thousands of dollars: If you want someone to remediate (fix) your website, don’t waste your money paying for scans and audits from companies that don’t actually offer remediation.

A little known fact is MOST website compliance agencies DON’T actually fix your site, they just tell you what’s wrong.

Yes, you read that right. Most compliance companies don’t do compliance. Always ask if they, themselves, do remediation (if not, they’re simply referring you to a developer, you’re paying extra for no reason and they’re earning a commission off you).

Also, look out for automated scans or audits! They only tell about 1/3 of the accessibility story.

At best, automated checks are supplemental guides but what you really need is an accessibility expert to manually review your site — if an audit is what you’re after — and most agencies won’t offer manual audits because it takes hours of time and real effort and (GULP!) potential liability.

I could write an entire article just on how to go about remediation but the main point here is if you are looking for a DFY (Done For You) solution, be careful that you aren’t just getting an audit — and if you do get an audit, get a manual audit.

P.S. There are companies that actually charge thousands of dollars to run an automated scan (remember these only cover about 30% of accessibility) and send you a report.

What to do next here to contiune reading the full Medium article »