How to Make Your Website WCAG Compliant

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a set of guidelines developed by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) to ensure that websites are accessible to people with disabilities. The purpose of WCAG is to make sure that everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, has equal access to information and functionality on the web.

The current WCAG 2.1 at the AA level has been adopted as the global standard for web accessibility acting as the benchmark in legislation such as the ADA title 3, Section 508, AODA, EN 301549, and many others.

WCAG 2.1 is a massive 1,000-page guidebook that encapsulates a range of disabilities that go from hindering internet use to making internet use impossible without adjustments. This spectrum comprises 20-25% of the general population depending on if you look at CDC or WHO guidelines. Companies can self-assess their current compliance, but the fact is a vast majority of websites are found to be non-compliant or semi-compliant.

Whichever standards one considers, an array of disabilities are covered. Primary categories that require attention are:

·       blind people using screen-readers,
·       motor-impaired using only the keyboard to navigate,
·       epilepsy, color blindness,
·       cognitive and learning disabilities, and
·       visual impairments.



ADA compliance lawsuits have risen—intensely. At 200% year over year, reports of tens of thousands of demand letters and lawsuits are targeting businesses of all sizes.

At first, the largest of enterprises and government institutions were legally pressured to become accessible. One of the most significant shifts in the legal climate, however, was when the DOJ in 2018 officially affirmed that all websites are considered public accommodations. That meant that all websites must comply with Title 3 of the ADA.

It was no surprise in 2019 saw a tripling from 2018 in the number of papers served. Translated, the volume of complaints was one per every business hour in 2019.Businesses are being served for not being web accessible every hour, on the hour.

In almost every situation, the plaintiff wins the case on its merits, or achieves settlement, because this is an inarguable liability. Judges may be understandably sympathetic to people with disabilities who really only want equal rights. Thus, there is virtually no chance of winning an ADA case in a court of law. Lawyers simply advise clients to write a check.

For example, a visually impaired woman from Broward County, Florida sued 175 business owners causing several small business owners to shutter their doors.

During the 2020 Covid era, those in quarantine realized they had less access to physical locations and amenities, and they found more difficulty in accessing the web for essential services. At present, WCAG and ADA compliance are business essentials both to accommodate customers and avoid lawsuits.



WCAG consists of four principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. These principles are further broken down into 12guidelines, and each guideline has multiple success criteria that websites must meet to be considered accessible.

1.     Perceivable: Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.
2.     Operable: User interface components and navigation must be operable.
3.     Understandable: Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.
4.     Robust: Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide range of user agents, including assistive technologies.

That said, given the dynamics of web design and content systems, there would seem no one-size-fits-all solution. The principles cascade into a comprehensive set of guidelines that cover a wide range of disabilities and accessibility needs—involving increasingly complex and ongoing demands upon website and ecommerce designers and administrators.

Some of the success criteria under the WCAG guidelines include providing alternative text for images, using headings to structure content, providing closed captioning for videos, and making sure that keyboard navigation is possible for all functionality.



To ensure WCAG compliance, three general approaches have emerged to achieve accessibility and ensure continuous updates to sites and new pages.

·       Ongoing, manual design, coding, and maintenance: Designers and webmaster implement fixes to code, content and images. Whenever pages or content change, testing and auditing site performance for accessibility becomes a monthly, if not weekly, affair. At a glance, small businesses may think this could be cheaper—in the short term—if they assume content or standards will not change. Jumbo-sized sites and online stores know that manual compliance workstreams are not cost-effective or sustainable long-term.

·       Free, open source, or low cost plugins: These may appeal to small-to-medium companies or even larger enterprises. But they soon learn that free or low-cost providers often strike only 10-15% of accessibility requirements. Also, the providers may not have sustainable business models—and the solutions may age, fall out of compliance, or the providers dissolve and disappear.

·       AI-based solutions: The most current, sustainable solutions use Artificial Intelligence on a platform designed like a SaaS solution. The provider has a sustainable and dedicated model for compliance, and sites using the solution essentially “outsource” compliance to experts whose business remains solely focused on WCAG standards—beholden to thousands of customers who count on them for compliance.

Manual remediation can cost from $5,000 to $50,000 or more. As stated, this does not solve the problem over the long haul as new pages, products, and standards emerge.

Using open source or low-cost plug-ins commonly leave gaps in compliance. This means that manual fixes must be identified, then performed, to achieve reasonable compliance. Ongoing, the site owner must check and re-check as their site and the standards evolve.

AI-based systems emerge as both the more cost-effective and more reliable approach. The customer’s website simply taps the AI-based solution to read and continuously render compliant content, images, and tools for accessibility. The platform serves the user as an intermediary, so web designers and webmasters are not tasked with daily or monthly auditing and double-checking.


Building a WCAG Compliant Website

Without a doubt, WCAG is now an essential requirement for website designers, developers, and content creators. Companies must ensure that their websites are accessible to everyone. By following the WCAG guidelines, websites can provide equal access to information and functionality for people with disabilities, resulting in a more inclusive and user-friendly web presence.

Moreover, in terms of risk and compliance, companies cannot afford to leave the door open to the cost and distractions of demand letters and lawsuits.

AI-based solutions have emerged as the predominant, trustedmethod for WCAG compliance. Any entity with a website should weigh theiroptions. Likely, using a dedicated vendor with an AI technology makes the mostbusiness and technical sense.

The solution offered by Merton Way is AI-based. Most webmasters can implement the solution in less than 15 minutes. The subscription cost can be less than $500/year. Get started right now, and become WCAG compliant in a matter of minutes by clicking here.