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Web Accessibility Standards

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 were created as part of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), a working group of World Wide Web Consortium(W3C) to ensure that web content is accessible to everyone.  Section 508 of Rehabilitation Act outlines many of these requirements.

Levels of Standards

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 are organized into three levels of standards:

  1. Level A – the most basic web accessibility features
  2. Level AA – deals with the biggest and most common barriers for disabled users
  3. Level AAA – the highest (and most complex) level of web accessibility

At Northwestern, we aim to meet many of the standards associated with AA-level accessibility. Although we strive to meet some AAA standards, not all Level-AAA guidelines are applicable to web content.

Accessibility Categories

WCAG 2.0 has many requirements that fall under four basic principles:

  • Perceivable - All information and user interface must be perceivable. Make sure that your audience can access, recognize and understand content through all assistive technology.
  • Operable - Some users are unable to use a mouse and rely on keyboard controls or other tools to navigate. In order to fully interact with a website, content needs to be operable no matter what accommodation tools users are employing.
  • Understandable - Understandable websites use clear, concise language and offer functionality that is easy to interpret. If a user navigates around your website, the connection between the functionality and the result should be obvious.
  • Robust - Robust websites work across operating systems, different browsers, and on tablet/mobile devices. Users should be able to choose their own technologies to access, read and interact with your site.