WCAG 2.1 For Small Businesses 11 Important Guidelines To Follow

Can WCAG 2.1 for small businesses generate greater domain authority for your website? According to the UK government Family Resources Survey there are over 14 million people in the UK with a disability.  Making sure your website is accessible to everyone could be a critical factor in your business survival.

In this article we look at the new standard for websites accessibility: WCAG 2.1 and how as a small business you can benefit.

What is WCAG 2.1?

What is WCAG 2.1? WCAG 2.1 details a set of standards for the accessibility of website content. The guidelines are meant to make sure that individuals with all types of disability can use and access the content on your website. These standards or guidelines allow companies and organisations to design and build websites in a way that the content can be understood and consumed by as many people as possible irrespective of the severity or type of disability they might have.

The WCAG 2.1 standards are ordered into 3 levels of compliance: A, AA, and AAA, with A, being the lowest and AAA, being the highest. The greater levels of compliance can be achieved through enabling improved measures and features that provide the increases in in accessibility that the standard require.

WCAG 2.1 and Public Sector Organisations In the UK.

How does WCAG 2.1 affect public sector organisations in the UK?

In 2018 the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations, was introduced.  It defined and detailed the accessibility levels required of public bodies.  In the regulations the requirement is that websites comply with WCAG 2.1 Level AA. 

Public sector bodies include both local and national Government, some charities in receipt of public funds and other non-government organisations. The regulations contain partial and full exemptions.  There are partial exceptions for schools and full exemptions for public broadcasters and charities not in receipt of public funding.  The partially exempt organisations are still required to publish and accessibility report on their website. 

WCAG 2.1 and Private Sector Companies In the UK.

How does WCAG 2.1 for small businesses work in the private sector

Although the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations do not cover the private sector UK companies, private companies in the UK are still subject to the Equality Act 2010. UK providers of goods and service are not allowed to discriminate against disabled people.  A lack of digital accessibility could hinder a company’s potential success. In 2022, when we’re seeing an upswing in e-commerce and online sales, it would make sense for companies in the private sector to be doing all they can to make their websites accessible so that they don’t miss out on a market that’s quickly expanding. Following the WCAG 2.0 and subsequent additional guidelines should be at the forefront of website design and development.

What is required to comply with WCAG 2.1?

The 4 principles required to comply with WCAG 2.01

Principle 1 – Perceivable

Principle 2 – Operable

Principle 3 – Understandable

Principle 4 – Robust

Principe 1 – Perceivable

Perceivable, is the first principle of WCAG 2.1.

For all users, it is important that they can recognise and use our sites with all of the senses they have available to them. This means making our websites accessible and easy to use and understand for all users regardless of their disabilities or other needs they may have.

We should all be including the use alt text on images. Captions and transcripts included when using video and audio content. Content needs to be able to be read electronically. We should use real actual text, not images containing lines or paragraphs of text.  Where there is an infographic containing text, describe it in the alt text.

Principle 2 – Operable

Operable,  is the second principle of WCAG 2.1.

Regardless of how they choose to access it, users need to be able to fine content. Using voice commands or a keyboard, the website should still be operatable using either.

The guidelines are clear, everything should be accessible by keyboard only.  Users with keyboard only, need to be able to stop and start video and audio.  They need to be able turn off animations and skip content.  Websites should include descriptive links, titles, and headings.

Principle 3 – Understandable

Understandable, is the third principle of WCAG 2.1.

Users need to be able to understand what our content is about and how our services work.  It should be totally clear which language our website is using and if there is any change for whatever reason to change the language, they should be a clear explanation of the transition.  Website features should be clear and constant and perform clearly and logically.  

The use of forms should adhere to the guidelines explaining that the form fields should be accurately labelled and visible enabling the user to easily make corrections to any errors they could make when filling out the form.

Principle 4 – Robust

Robust, is the fourth principle of WCAG 2.1.

Content must be able to be reliably read and understood by a variety of different users. Making use of html code so that it easy for assistive tech understand the content. Important status messages are needed to be marked up so that users understand both their purpose and importance, especially when users are using assistive technology to access the content.

11 Important Guidelines to Follow for WCAG 2.1

The WCAG 2.1 for small businesses accessibility guidelines, are aimed at ensuring that all users can access and use the content on your website.

1.     Pages should be easy to navigate and use logical page structure

2.     Ensure that important content is near the top of each page

3.     Provide captions and transcripts to audio and video content

4.     Make sure your images have alternative text (alt text)

5.     Provide navigation bars or breadcrumbs on each page of the site

6.     Ensure that links, buttons, form controls, etc. are clearly visible and easy to use

7.     Make sure all interactive elements (elements with a form) are accessible by keyboard as well as by mouse.

8.     Make sure forms are correctly labelled and visible.

9.     Use clear, concise language

10.  Provide a text equivalent for every non-text element

11.  Use Html to help people using assistive technology to understand your website

Why small businesses should comply with WCAG 2.1

WCAG 2.1 for small businesses, it makes sense.

The web content accessibility guidelines are not just a set of arbitrary rules. They are a set of standards designed to make the internet non-discriminatory and accessible for everyone. Allowing people with varying levels of disability to access and use the internet equally well as able bodied users. This guidance should help your website and business, as well as your clients and customers.  According to the UK government Family Resources Survey there are over 14 million people in the UK with a disability.  Over 20% of us will be affected by a disability as some point in our lives. To ignore such a large portion of the population could be costing your business lost sales just because your website is not accessible for all.

At ByteSizeMe we have embraced the guidelines.  We can see what a lost opportunity it could be, not having our website as accessible to as many people as possible.  If you have a website that needs an upgrade, and you want to make your website as accessible as possible, we can talk you through the process and advise the best course of action to help you.

Are you still on the fence about the importance of web accessibility?

Laura Geley a senior UX/UI designer and a member of the prestigious Awwwards jury who specialises in UX solutions for eCommerce. Laura has written this excellent article that dispels some of the myths surrounding web accessibility.  She also provides more compelling reasons to care about it, and explains how to improve accessibility. UX and the importance of web accessibility

If you enjoyed this article please do share it. We are on a mission to make every website accessible for all. Find out how we can help make your website WCAG 2.1 compliant with our WCAG 2.1 AA Audit

If you are thinking about a creating a new website then you might we have an article answering the most asked  7 Questions Why Should I Create A Website?

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WCAG 2.1 For Small Businesses 11 Important Guidelines To Follow

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