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Creating Accessible Learning: Accessibility Guidelines

Why It Matters

According to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C),

[WCAG] is developed through the W3C process in cooperation with individuals and organizations around the world, with a goal of providing a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally. (W3C, "Introduction")

WCAG provides us with technical guidelines for making digital content accessible to users of all abilities.

WCAG Throughout This Guide

On each page throughout this guide, you'll find a section entitled, "Accessibility Guideline." That section is divided into two main tabs (see Figure 1):

  • The "What Is It?" tab explains the accessibility principle's associated WCAG guideline. Each associated WCAG guideline number and its level of conformance (A, AA, AAA) is located in parenthesis and links out to the corresponding WCAG page.
  • The "How-To" tab provides step-by-step directions for enacting that principle and ensuring accessibility.
A cropped example of an “Accessibility Guideline” section. The title of the box, which has a purple arrow pointing toward it to emphasize the section, reads, “Accessibility Guideline: Slide Reading Order.” Below the title, there are two tabs that read, “What is it?” and “How-To.” There’s a purple box around these tabs to highlight them.
Figure 1

Understanding WCAG 2.1

How It's Organized

WCAG 2.1 is organized into four foundational principles of web accessibility, which are further broken down into 13 guidelines. The guidelines provide the basic goals authors should work toward in order to make content accessible to users of all abilities. Testable success criteria are provided for each guideline.

In order to meet the needs of different groups and different situations, success criteria are broken down into three levels of conformance: A (lowest; required), AA (required), and AAA (highest). Figure 2 shows WCAG organization in a flowchart.

Meeting the Guidelines

For conformance with each guideline, you should meet both Levels A and AA at a minimum.

Each guideline outlines success criteria and includes further information for both understanding the guidelines, as well as WCAG techniques that provide guidance for web content authors and evaluators on meeting success criteria.

Use the How to Meet WCAG (Quick Reference) to find all of the above referenced materials in one location.

Figure 2. Understanding WCAG

Organization of WCAG shown in a chart. Accessible PDF version available via PDF link "Understanding WCAG."