Happy Birthday WCAG - Accessibility!  

on May 23, 2024 at 9:42am |Updated on May 23, 2024 at 9:42am A birthday cake with the words Happy 25th Birthday WCAG 1.0. The cake has candles that are burnt down, bent and broken

What is WCAG? Accessibility means what exactly?

25 years ago, WCAG 1.0 was introduced.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Version 1.0

These guidelines were published to help web designers make their websites more accessible. To quote directly from their abstract:

“The primary goal of these guidelines is to promote accessibility. However, following them will also make Web content more available to all users, whatever user agent they are using (e.g., desktop browser, voice browser, mobile phone, automobile-based personal computer, etc.) or constraints they may be operating under (e.g., noisy surroundings, under- or over-illuminated rooms, in a hands-free environment, etc.). Following these guidelines will also help people find information on the Web more quickly. These guidelines do not discourage content developers from using images, video, etc., but rather explain how to make multimedia content more accessible to a wide audience.”

Wow.

That encapsulates it perfectly.

How to make your website more accessible and inclusive for everyone.

So why are we not celebrating?

25 years later, 95.9% of the top 1 million websites still fail to meet basic accessibility standards.

Why?

Do web designers not care?

I do not believe that is the case.

However, whatever the reasons, we cannot ignore the sad fact that these guidelines have had minimal impact on the majority of websites built today.

Lived Experience

If I had not been involved in a horrendous car crash over 30 years ago, which resulted in life-changing injuries for all of us, we might have been in the same position as other web designers: maybe even aware of the importance of web accessibility but not actually taking action. Not really.

This is because we would not have seen the need.

When I conduct live audits with my team of disabled testers, we record each session in all its raw reality. My team are not trying to be difficult, they are simply trying to use the website like anyone else.

It is their lived experience that highlights the need.

Their frustration with being unable to do things that are otherwise so easy to do, if you can use a mouse. To give one example. There are many more.

The start of the journey

That is just the start of the journey, of course, as we then work with the web designers to help them improve their accessibility. It is one-way street: once you start to include accessibility in your website design, you never look back.

The reward we get from seeing the improvements being made afterwards makes it so worthwhile, it is what drives us.

Those of us working in website accessibility are not pointing fingers or trying to make anyone feel bad. We just want to encourage best practices and make the web a more accessible place.

Happy Birthday, WCAG. Accessibility is still achievable!

Caption: A birthday cake with the words 'Happy 25th Birthday WCAG 1.0' written on it. The cake has candles that are burnt down, bent and broken

Would you like to chat about website accessibility and start your journey with us? Book yourself in here.

 

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