If you’ve been learning about the importance of web accessibility remediation solutions, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) validators, and why it’s necessary to comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, you probably also have many questions about how to make your website compliant.
Accessibility remediation is the term used to explain the process of eliminating accessibility barriers for people with disabilities. In the digital world, your website has been successfully remediated if and when it meets all the standards under the WCAG.
The Rehabilitation Act exists to protect the equal rights of people with disabilities. Section 508 is the part of the law that extends protections to digital content. All federal government agencies must follow Section 508, Any organizations that are funded or contracted by the government must also follow the law. Technology doesn’t sit still, so the government issued an update to Section 508 in 2017.
Why Accessibility Remediation Matters
In practical terms, Section 508 means that, among other things, a covered entity’s website and any type of information and communications technology (ICT) must be completely accessible before it can be purchased by the government. If it isn’t ready, the organization must get caught up and continue monitoring for accessibility issues.
WCAG, fortunately, is universally accepted. If a website meets the WCAG 2.0 criteria it is considered fully accessible and Section 508 compliant. However, you need to understand the WCAG 2.0 criteria to tell if a site is compliant as well as how to fix non-compliant content.
That way you know if your website meets a particular WCAG standard like number 4.1.1:
“In content implemented using markup languages, elements have complete start and end tags, elements are nested according to their specifications, elements do not contain duplicate attributes, and any IDs are unique, except where the specifications allow these features”?
This information might mean little to you, but it might be everything to a person with a disability trying to use your website. If your site doesn’t meet criterion 4.1.1, assistive technology may crash on your site. When this happens, a visitor may give up on your website altogether. There are millions of people with disabilities online every day.
If you would like to learn more about the latest WCAG guidelines, you can download our “Must Have WCAG 2.1 Checklist.”
Using WCAG Validators Before Remediation
A WCAG validator is an automated web accessibility checker that lets you know whether your website meets accessibility standards even if you don’t have technical expertise. All you do is input the URL of the website you want to check.
These tools work well for instant web accessibility testing. AChecker is one such validator.¹ If your website fails the test you can then explore WCAG 2.0 accessibility remediation solutions to bring it up to speed.
Be warned, though, validators may churn out long lists of potential accessibility barriers. Mot all the issues will be problematic. Only an accessibility expert can determine which issues do need remediation services. Even if your website “passes” the test, you can’t be certain your website is accessible without a full, human-led assessment that includes manual and functional testing.
508 Compliance Testing Tools
The WCAG 2.0 standards are considered acceptable guidelines for websites aiming to be Section 508 refresh compliant. Thus, a WCAG validator could also be considered a 508 checker.
WCAG 2.0 has different compliance levels: A, AA, and AAA. According to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Office of Information, Integrity, and Access, websites that follow the lowest level of WCAG won’t be considered compliant with Section 508.
Websites need to follow level AA at minimal to be considered compliant. Therefore, the web accessibility checker you’re using should also be testing against WCAG’s level AA. AChecker does this by default, but not all validators do.
Many automated accessibility testing tools are not exhaustive. They may test a few elements or components of a website only, checking whether the color contrast is adequate, or whether electronic documents like PDFs are usable by people with disabilities.
Very often, they don’t take mobile device performance into account. As a consequence, a website that is approved as accessible by a WCAG validator may not be accessible at all when viewed on a mobile device. Barriers can suddenly crop up in a mobile environment, like picture details appearing so tiny that a person with a disability can’t click on them. MobiReady is an example validator that tests mobile readiness.²
What’s Your Best Option for Web Accessibility Remediation?
Although some of the automated accessibility testers and WCAG validators may include suggested fixes in their reports, they won’t repair your website for you. If you don’t have web-building expertise as well as extensive, up-to-date knowledge about accessibility barriers, those solutions won’t be much help to you. Same goes for online resources, such as government websites, that may list a few basic suggestions for finding barriers.³
Even if you’re able to figure out how to follow these suggestions, that doesn’t guarantee there aren’t other accessibility problems somewhere on your site not addressed in the basic list. The most accurate, thorough and reliable web accessibility remediation and reports will come from human beings who make it their livelihood to know accessibility.
Not only will qualified web accessibility consultants manually inspect every component of your website, but they will also use several types of assistive technology and input devices to test whether their online experience is seamless in all situations.
Following this evaluation, they will recommend tried-and-true WCAG 2.0 accessibility remediation solutions to ensure that your website is welcoming to all. You’ll be able to proudly tell your colleagues, clients, and customers that your accessible website meets WCAG standards and is 508-compliant, something you couldn’t do with only a WCAG validator.
An Innovative Web Accessibility Remediation Solution
eSSENTIAL Accessibility has developed a comprehensive accessibility solution to help organizations follow the WCAG and achieve and maintain accessibility compliance with standards and regulations. This includes integrating web compliance evaluation services with assistive technology to deliver a transformative experience for people with disabilities. Learn more about eSSENTIAL Accessibility’s innovative solution by contacting our team today.
- Web Accessibility Checker. AChecker, 2011
- MobiReady. Afilias Technologies, 2016
- Delivering Accessible Products & Services. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, February 5, 2015