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WCAG 2.0 Compliance and CMS

Date Posted: Wednesday, 16 January 2013 11:35
Posted By: Kerry Butters

Web Accessibility (WCAG 2.0) is about ensuring web and electronic content is inclusive and usable by all people regardless of their ability or disability.

elcom WCAG compliance

Briefly, WCAG 2.0 is a set of standards defined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), to assist website developers, publishers and owners with making web content more accessible.

As well as being aware of the requirements surrounding WCAG 2.0, it’s also important to note that implementing a compliant CMS will help reduce some of the work needed to get a website accessible. So it’s worth making sure before you take the plunge into implementing a CMS for your organization.

In its simplest form, WCAG 2.0 compliance means that a website has to come up to scratch in two main areas, content and markup. Content includes everything that a user interacts with or captures from the site, such as text, images, videos, navigation, menus, forms and sounds; and markup is the site’s underlying code which tells a browser how to display the content.

Catering for different user types is a challenge in itself and there is obviously more than disability or impairment type to take into account. For example, people who have impaired hearing will need the option of clear text and the visually impaired will need to have sound accompanying the content on the site, especially when it comes to things like filling in forms that use CAPCHAS.

Further to this, the markup used in a website can be translated into sound or “Braille bars” using specially created browsers. If your site can’t do this, then it’s not conforming to WCAG 2.0 standards.

How can CMS help?

A CMS which complies with WCAG 2.0 standards should have the power to create content that is accessible automatically. Once set up, a good CMS should have the ability to manage markup and produce dynamic web pages without you having to go through the underlying code and content with a fine toothcomb.

In order to meet standards, a website audit should comply with the following four important principles:

  1. Perception: visitors to the site must be able to browse information using at least one of their senses.
  2. Operation: the web interface must be simple to use and not ask impossible actions of disabled visitors.
  3. Understanding: the information contained on the site must be understandable to all.
  4. Cross-platform: the way a site is displayed must be interpreted across a variety of browsers, screen readers and braille monitors.

This should be the case site-wide, so all user interfaces will have to be looked at to ensure they meet acceptable standards. This includes the different interface that’s presented to the visitor once they have registered for a site and are logged in.

It’s also important that colors are legible, users are not constrained to keyboard only, pages are titled and contain contextual links, as well as other considerations such as page language and instructions. Images should also have a text alternative and the information provided should provide a sound structure.

How do I know if my CMS is providing this?

This is easy enough, just ask your supplier. Some CMS vendors are already WCAG 2.0 certified, having had their products tested by an official auditors which have been found to meet the standards.

Already use a CMS but don’t know if your site’s compliant? Then a simple audit from a reputable company should do the trick and flag up any areas in which your site is failing.

When planning to implement your CMS, ensure that you ask about WCAG 2.0 as part of your content strategy. Should the supplier you’ve chosen not comply with the standards, then you can always ask if they are planning to integrate it into the software.

If your supplier does offer compliance, then the next question to ask is how they implement this. Is it all carried out automatically and if so, how? There’s not a lot of use in investing in a CMS that doesn’t give you what you need, so ensure that you are clear about exactly what you’re purchasing in the first instance.

A CMS that does meet with requirements should really do all the work for you, or at least prompt the user to check accessibility as the content is being created. This can be done for example, by having a check function when text is being created or images manipulated.

It could be the case that you have an older CMS which hasn’t been updated in order to meet with the standards, again, you can here ask for updates to the software or you can employ a developer to add this onto your initial solution.

Due to its nature and how integrated into a business it becomes, bear in mind that choosing a CMS is a long-term commitment, so if your solution is from a decade or so ago, perhaps it’s time to ring the changes, a lot has happened on the web in the interim period.

Bearing this in mind, when you choose a CMS, think about the long term, ask yourself and your provider just how flexible it is in terms of keeping up with new standards as they come in.

CMS can offer an ideal solution to accessibility worries as it takes the grunt out of coding and content and ensures that your staff and you can work to your maximum potential without having to run constant audits and reports.

These should be generated automatically and with the sheer amount of data flowing through offices each day, represent an ideal solution to many problems faced by the modern business. Automating a good portion of your work that needs to be carried out online and off gives you as a CEO the opportunity to concentrate on more important aspects of your business, such as marketing and sales.

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