WCAG 2.0

WCAG 2.0 stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Similar to Section 508, WCAG is the international standard for accessibility in web content created by The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Most people are familiar with Section 508, which requires federal agencies to “purchase electronic and information technology that is accessible to employees with disabilities, and to the extent that those agencies provide information technology to the public, it too shall be accessible by persons with disabilities.” WCAG offers similar guidance, as well as techniques for building web content that is accessible for people with disabilities.

WCAG uses the POUR Principles to provide guidelines for  creating accessible content. POUR stands for:

  • Perceivable:
    • Provides text alternatives for any non-text content
    • Provides alternatives for time-based media
    • Separates content from style
    • Makes it easier for users to see and hear content
  • Operable:
    • Makes all functionality available from a keyboard
    • Provides users enough time to read and use content
    • Doesn’t design content known to cause seizures
    • Provides ways to help users navigate, find content and determine where they are
  • Understandable:
    • Simplifies text content
    • Web pages operate in predictable ways
    • Helps users avoid and correct mistakes
  • Robust:
    • Maximizes compatibility with other products, including assistive technologies.

These guidelines are categorized into three levels:  A (must support), AA (should support), and AAA (may support).

You might be thinking, “Okay, why does this matter to me? I’m not a government agency.” Neither are the American Heart Association or Harvard, but that didn’t stop students from suing  them for accessibility issues. In March, a medical student sued the American Heart Association for failure to provide access to disabled persons with hearing impairments, alleging the organization refused to provide subtitles for video content. This is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which “requires all entities that provide educational training materials and certification to ensure full and equal access for individuals with a disability, including individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.”

The American Heart Association isn’t alone. Harvard and M.I.T. have also been in the news for the same reason. Advocates for the deaf filed a lawsuit in February arguing that both universities either do not provide closed captioning or provide such poorly captioned content that it is inaccessible to deaf students. The lawsuit further alleges that edX, a nonprofit founded by the two universities, which offers dozens of free online courses to students around the world, also fails to provide access for disabled users.

We expect to see  accessibility issues continue to ripple through the eLearning industry. Is your association or organization’s content accessible for all users? Tell us about it.


Does your organizations need a WCAG and ADA compliant Learning Management System?  Visit our LMS page to learn more about Knowledge Direct.

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