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5 Common WCAG Mistakes and How to Avoid Them 

As companies across the globe strive to ensure an inclusive digital presence, it has become crucial to practice the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) for businesses. However, many businesses aren’t compliant due to some common WCAG mistakes.  

This article highlights typical and most frequent accessibility errors, and ways of avoiding them are presented by citing the WebAim 2023 report on the accessibility of the top 1,000,000 home pages.  

What is WCAG and Its Importance 

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), provides recommendations for making the web content more accessible to people with disabilities. Conforming to WCAG ensures effective user interaction, mitigating legal risks, enhanced brand reputation and thereby broadening the market reach of a business. However, many businesses still do not conform to accessibility standards due to ignorance, lack of expertise, or limited resources. Performing a WCAG 2.2 & 2.1 audit of your website is of utmost importance. 

Common WCAG Mistakes

As an experienced digital accessibility vendor and working with organizations across the world, our team of WCAG testers have observed some common mistakes made by organizations. These are usually caused due to the web designers and the developers having limited knowledge of the WCAG guidelines. The complexity of digital technologies and their advancements can also cause errors as maintaining accessibility requires continuous attention. Organizations prioritizing aesthetic design or functionality over accessibility also create barriers for people with disabilities. 

Here are the 5 most common WCAG mistakes and how you can avoid them: 

1. Missing Alternate Text Description 

Adding alt text for images is one of the main principles of web accessibility. It ensures that the image is described to a person who has visual impairment and uses a screen reader.  

As per the WebAim report 55.3% of home pages had missing or inadequate alt text. This WCAG mistake can significantly hinder a person with disabilities’ ability to understand the visual content. 

Solution: Ensure all images, pictures, graphs etc have a proper meaningful description. Learn more about Image Description – An Integral part of Content Accessibility 

 2. Insufficient Color Contrast 

Poor contrast between the text and background color makes it difficult to read the content, especially for people with low vision, color blindness or other visual impairment. As per Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) there are two different sets of contrast requirements – text and non-text contrast.  

The WebAim report highlights that 43.3% of the analyzed home pages had inadequate color contrast. 

Solution: Use color contrast analysis tools and follow the WCAG guidelines for minimum contrast ratios for different elements between foreground and background/adjacent colors. WCAG recommends a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text. Learn more about The Impact of Color Contrast on Accessibility 

3. Lack of Keyboard Accessibility 

Many users with disabilities rely on keyboard navigation. Unplug your mouse and try navigating through your web page with keyboard? Were you able to navigate every menu on the webpage as easily as you could with a mouse? Many developers fail to look into keyboard accessibility of their website.  

The WebAim report states that 27.1% of home pages failed to provide full keyboard accessibility, making it impossible for users to navigate without a mouse. 

Solution: It is important to test your website to ensure all interactive elements respond when accessed via tabbing with a keyboard. Enhance visibility by ensuring appropriate focus styles for those navigating through keyboard tabs. 

4. Unlabeled Form Elements 

Forms are very crucial for user interaction, but unlabeled form elements can confuse a person using a screen reader and create a barrier when completing a form. Labels are an important piece of text that tells you what the purpose of the control is. Based on the label, the user can decide if clicking or activating the button will submit the form details or reset the form!  

The WebAim report found that 39.6% of home pages had poorly labeled or have unlabeled form elements. 

Solution: Use clear and descriptive labels for all the form fields. Download the 12 tips on how to #LabelYourControls on web, android and iOS.  

One of the most commonly found WCAG mistakes that our team has come across is the use of link text such as “click here”, “know more” or “read more”. These link texts lack context and creates confusion for people using screen readers. 

As per the WebAim report, 34.7% of home pages had non-descriptive link text. 

Solution: Ensure all link text is descriptive and provides clear context about the link’s destination. For example, use “Learn more about our products” instead of “learn more.” 

Conclusion

Accessibility cannot be an afterthought any longer! In addition to potential legal issues, inaccessible websites also send out a negative message about your brand to the customers. With over 1 billion people with disabilities in the world, businesses failing to address common WCAG conformance mistakes means missing out on this substantial customer base. Regular accessibility audits will not only improve user experience but also expand your reach and protect your company from potential legal challenges. 

Get in touch with an accessibility expert at BarrierBreak to learn more on how we can support you in your accessibility journey and conduct WCAG 2.2 & 2.1 audit of your website. 

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