The Three Levels Of Accessibility

The Three Levels Of Accessibility

To make web accessibility a priority, you must establish objectives and monitor your progress. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provide the best framework currently available. Published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), WCAG is the consensus standard for digital accessibility.

WCAG is founded on four fundamental principles: Content should be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. The recommendations, which are also known as success criteria, provide practical information for developing more effective websites and mobile applications. In order to provide a structured framework, the guidelines are divided into three conformance levels:

Three conformance levels of WCAG

1. Level A – Considered to be the least stringent, Level A success criteria are required for all websites. If your website is not compliant with WCAG Level A, it may have severe accessibility concerns that prevent people with disabilities from using it.

2. Level AA – Websites that conform to WCAG Level AA are reasonably accessible for the majority of users. The majority of websites should strive towards Level AA compliance. To accomplish this objective, content must achieve all Level AA and Level A success criteria.

3. Level AAA – Web content that conforms to WCAG guidelines Level AAA accessibility is considered ideal. To achieve Level AAA conformity, content must adhere to every WCAG recommendation (including Level AA and Level A success criteria). Nevertheless, some Level AAA success criteria are highly stringent, and certain types of content cannot adhere to every guideline.

As stated previously, the majority of websites should strive for Level AA conformance with the latest version of WCAG (currently WCAG 2.1, but WCAG 2.2 may be issued in the approaching months).

Conformance to WCAG Level AA provides reasonable accessibility

If a website fails to meet the success criterion for WCAG 2.1 Level A, it has significant accessibility issues. The success criteria for Level A requires text alternatives for non-text information, keyboard navigation, and other fundamental factors.

Level A compliance is a fantastic beginning point, but Level AA goes beyond that by ensuring that your content is practically usable for the majority of individuals, regardless of their ability. For this reason, many accessibility rules mandate Level AA conformity.

The following are examples of each Level of success criteria:

1. Understanding Success Criterion 2.4.3: Focus Order (Level A) 

Users should be able to sequentially navigate through the content in such a way that they can easily consume information. 

2. Understanding Success Criterion 3.2.3: Consistent Navigation (Level AA)

Maintain a consistent presentation and layout across web pages on your website that follow the same way to navigate content. 

3. Understanding Success Criterion 1.2.8: Media Alternative (Prerecorded) Level AAA

Time-based media should be provided with an alternative to make it accessible to individuals whose vision is too poor to reliably read captions and whose hearing is too poor to reliably hear dialogue and audio descriptions.

Unfortunately, the majority of websites do not comply with WCAG Level AA. Each year, the non-profit organization WebAIM evaluates the homepages of the top one million websites using an automated system. 97.4% of homepages did not comply with WCAG Level AA, according to WebAIM’s 2021 study.

There are a lot of Level AAA WCAG guidelines that can enhance your material

WCAG 2.1 Level AA compliance is a reasonable target for an accessibility initiative’s initial phase. By adhering to the guidelines, you can enjoy enhanced search engine optimization, increased user retention rates, and other digital accessibility benefits.

However, you should not disregard the WCAG Level AAA recommendations. Although these success criteria are stringent, they provide extra scope for growing your audience. In most cases, Level AAA rules need a color contrast ratio of at least 7:1; some sites can easily conform to this guideline, and by doing so, they can deliver a better experience for a greater number of their users.

To achieve your accessibility objectives, you will need to identify current WCAG conformance failures and then monitor your website’s improvement. AEL Data helps B2B companies with web accessibility audits targeting WCAG 2.1 Level A and AA compliance. Our process replicates the actions of a disabled visitor on your website by testing it with keyboard only and screen reader navigation along with color contrast testing and manual code review. 

We are always glad to show you a copy of our granular audit report to see how we itemize bugs in terms of compliance and priority. Please fill out this form to get your copy.

Picture of Aditya Bikkani

Aditya Bikkani

Aditya is the COO of AELData, a growing technology company in the Digital Publishing and Education sectors. He is also an entrepreneur and founder of an accessibility tool called LERA. A W3C COGA (Cognitive and Learning Disabilities Accessibility) Community Member Aditya contributes to researching methodologies to improve web accessibility and usability for people with cognitive and learning disabilities.

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