Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

Throughout this training I have mentioned guidelines relating to digital accessibility and you’ve probably been wondering where I was getting these guidelines from and when I was going to discuss them in more detail. Well the answer to those questions in order is ‘They are from The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines’ and ‘Now’

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a very comprehensive set of guidelines which seek to provide a single shared worldwide standard which could be used to advise content providers in the best practices for making their content accessible to everyone including people with disabilities. Their recommendations cover all areas of digital content including content on the web, digital documents and social media and are constantly being updated to keep up with the ever changing face of digital communications. They were first released with the WCAG version guidelines 1.0 in 1999 and as of March 2023 they are on WCAG version 2.1 with version 2.2 to be released later this year.

They are produced by the World Wide Web Consortium and maintained by a consortium of experts from all over the world including Tim Berners Lee (the man who invented the World Wide Web)

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines break down their multitude of recommendations into 4 requirements.  These 4 requirements are that online content must be perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. We will take a look at each of these requirements along with examples of where the strategies we have discussed throughout this course might fit into them.




The definition of perceivable is to be able to interpret or regard something properly.


Some examples of how this could be achieved in web accessibility could be to ensure that content is:


  • Using appropriate colour schemes so that it is perceivable by people with disabilities which may be affected by certain colour schemes
  • Displaying appropriate contrast levels so that it is perceivable by people with disabilities who may be affected by certain contrast levels
  • Captioned for video content so that they are perceivable by people with hearing impairments or neurodivergent conditions where audio levels can be an issue
  • Formatted accessibly so that it is perceivable by people with visual impairments, learning difficulties, learning disabilities and cognitive impairments amongst other disabilities.





The WCAG 2.1 guidelines state that online content should be operable or usable from a technical point of view


Examples of how this could be achieved are to ensure that content:


  • Users given time to read content such as captions
  • Seizure Awareness (don’t use strobing images)
  • Has easy navigation (uncomplicated menu systems)
  • Works with assistive technology such as switches






Content should be understandable:


Examples of how this could be achieved include ensuring content:



  • Is jargon free or that an Easy Read version is available
  • Includes guidance given when filling in online forms.




The content should be compatible with future working practices


For example if a plug-in or software is required to access content make sure the plug-in or software is likely to remain available.