WCAG is the abbreviation for “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines” and describes guidelines for barrier-free web offers. These have been binding in the EU since 2020. The WCAG guidelines were developed by the W3C, the international World Wide Web Consortium.
Websites that comply with the WCAG guidelines are also accessible to people with sensory, cognitive and / or motor handicaps. The information contained can therefore also be recorded with corresponding restrictions and the necessary entries made.
This fulfills the requirements for a “barrier-free Internet”. In German-speaking countries, the implementation of the WCAG guidelines is still in the early stages, although this has been supported by a legal stipulation in the BITV (barrier-free information technology ordinance) since 2002.
WCAG 2.0 principles
The current version of the WCAG is based on the following four principles:
- Perceptibility:Contents and operating elements (buttons, input fields, etc.) must be presented to users in such a way that they can be perceived with restrictions.
- Ease of use:The components of the user interface and the navigation elements must always be operable.
- Comprehensibility:Information and the use of the controls must be understandable.
- Robustness:The content of a WCAG-compliant website must be robust enough so that it can be displayed and interpreted by end devices and software of all kinds (browsers, readers, etc.) including assistive technologies.
If the requirements of the WCAG guidelines are met on a website, it is referred to as conformity. It should be noted here that not all of the criteria of the WCAG standard have to be met. There are three rating levels: A, AA and AAA.
These ratings explain how well a website is adapted to the needs of users with handicaps (visual impairment, motor impairments, etc.). A low level of accessibility corresponds to level A, a medium or high level of accessibility corresponds to levels AA and AAA.
WCAG in practice
As an example, the implementation of an online shop and its ordering process including the purchase process is described. If the provider wants to achieve WCAG compatibility level AA, he must ensure that not only the product descriptions are accessible. Rather, this also applies to each individual webpage that is called up in the course of an order, for example to fill a shopping cart that meets WCAG compatibility level AA. In this case, this also applies to entering customer data and payment information.
Finally, it must be mentioned that absolute accessibility according to conformity level AAA can hardly be implemented in practice. The possible restrictions (e.g. of a cognitive nature, learning and language disabilities and multiple disabilities) are too diverse for all points of the WCAG guidelines to be taken into account. The W3C consortium can therefore only recommend implementing as many criteria as possible in a way that is appropriate for the target group so that the largest possible number of people with disabilities can use the Internet.