WCAG 2.0 / Accessibility, is it an impossible standard that provides the basis for excuses?

06 Jul 2016

Since the inception and launch of WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG) 2.0 / https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/) it has been a bit of a bumpy road. Although several organisations claim compliance and a want to adopt it, its complexity, time requirements and the level of training/support required have challenged many. From speaking to clients, users and industry experts since the launch of WCAG 2.0 (automation) testing, we have found that the matter is seemingly becoming less important and an unachievable standard.


What’s more the actual results for sites are also showing a downward trend. Just 1.5% of the 200 Government Sites in the Central Gov. INDEX (https://sitemorse.com/index/uk-central-government/2016-q2) are anywhere near AA complaint (WCAG 1.0 - Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), yet accessibility is claimed by lots and is a requirement.


Sitemorse are not trying to speak as experts, or want to defend anyone but, in discussing this, it seems that considerable numbers were at least heading towards WCAG 1.0 even though some considered it onerous and not all understood its importance. With a number of organisations achieving WCAG 1.0 (automated and manual checking in harmony to deliver accessibility), WCAG 2.0 is being considered over bearing and the sheer level of understanding and site work required to even start to embrace, let alone achieve it is seen as difficult to manage.


There are many benefits to an accessible site but, if the standard itself is the reason the need is negated, then the value is considerably diminished.


What we are suggesting, is to create a list of priorities that can be done to improve accessibility. This will be based on the data we have collected from 25+ billion pages and feedback from industry experts, clients and users. With this information we will consider the checkpoints of WCAG 2.0 and come up with 10 things that should be dealt with to improve accessibility which will all be understandable, manageable, measurable and achievable. By dealing with this list, the experience for all users regardless of their access needs will be improved. This isn’t a perfect solution but by dealing with this list it can improve accessibility by 65-70% which is better than no improvement at all. If the top 10 could be agreed, we can then make these accessibility priorities something for all to meet, which can be measured consistently and lead to accessibility improving step by step.


Purists may complain about Sitemorse but, we are not looking to have any thoughts or comments as to the limitations of automated testing, as we know it isn’t the only answer. However, we are now removing a swath of the requirements by doing something that benefits the majority, which is far better than an excuse to do nothing. It is not correct or appropriate for people to comment but it is more the reality, now is the time to be both practical and pragmatic.


If it would assist you, we are happy to offer any reader the report for their own site / content (Example) and once the WCAG 2.0 Accessibility Top 10 have been circulated we can identify your initial priorities.


Article Links

(Web) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0

(Web) UK Gov. INDEX

(XLS) UK Gov. INDEX, Accessibility results (automated – WCAG 1.0)

(PDF) Example Accessibility Summary

(PDF) Example Accessibility Report