The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) were released earlier today (yesterday?). And unlike the panic districts felt to comply with WCAG 2.0, districts can rest easy — for now. As of June 5, 2018, WCAG 2.1’s guidelines are not regulations and/or requirements at this point in the U.S.
However, if you’re curious to learn more about WCAG 2.1, here’s what districts need to know:
What is WCAG 2.1?
According to wcag.org, “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 defines how to make Web content more accessible to people with disabilities. Accessibility involves a wide range of disabilities, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, language, learning, and neurological disabilities. These guidelines also make Web content more usable by older individuals with changing abilities due to aging and often improve usability for users in general.”
WCAG 2.1 was developed through the W3C process in cooperation with individuals and organizations around the world.
We Just Complied with 2.0, Do we Now Need to Comply with 2.1?
As of June 5, 2018, WCAG 2.1’s guidelines are not regulations and/or requirements at this point in the U.S.
How Can I Learn More?
If you’re looking to inform yourself on WCAG 2.1 and stay one step ahead, below are some important resources about WCAG 2.1:
- How to Meet WCAG 2.1 - This reference includes all of the WCAG 2.1 guidelines, success criteria, and techniques for authors to use as they are developing and evaluating Web content. This includes content from WCAG 2.0 and WCAG 2.1.
- Understanding WCAG 2.1 - This reference is to help you understand and implement WCAG 2.1.
- Techniques for WCAG 2.1 - This reference is a collection of techniques and common failures.
If you’re simply trying to familiarize yourself with the new guidelines, we recommend reviewing resources #1 and #2 on the list. You can also check out these additional blog posts, which also explain WCAG 2.1:
(Please keep in mind that the articles listed above were prepared before the WCAG 2.1 standards were finalized and may not fully reflect the finalized standard. These blogs reflect an interpretation of the new standards, and not an interpretation by Finalsite.)
What is Finalsite Doing About WCAG 2.1?
When the ADA first set the January 2018 deadline for adhering to WCAG 2.0 level AA standards early last year, our entire company pivoted. In meetings with our design, development and product teams, we didn’t just ask the question, “how can we help our districts meet these guidelines to avoid an OCR complaint,” but rather, we asked ourselves, “how can we change our entire process to focus on accessibility from the ground up?”
And to that extent, over the past year, we have worked tirelessly with our clients, and implemented numerous changes to ensure our designs, services, and products help you achieve and maintain accessibility — including a total revamp to our design and deployment process that ensures our team delivers your team an accessible website in terms of design, color contrast, and functionality.
But, we knew that wasn’t enough. Beyond products and processes, we wanted to offer our clients peace of mind, and offer their community a truly, all-inclusive, accessible website experience — which is why we partnered with AudioEye, the industry-leader in web accessibility.
AudioEye offers two essential services for adhering to WCAG 2.0 guidelines — the Ally Toolbar and the Managed Service — and after a thorough review of WCAG 2.1, will make the necessary changes to positively impact school websites. These services are ongoing website monitoring and management, as well as the AudioEye Toolbar.
- Website Monitoring and Management: A service in which accessibility issues on your site are automatically fixed by AudioEye technology, and/or manually fixed by an accessibility engineer throughout the entire life of your contract. There is no work required from your district — really!
- The AudioEye Toolbar: This interactive toolbar displays on your website that provides assistive technology to those who may need it.
More than 60 Finalsite schools and districts currently partner with AudioEye — and we’ve added the toolbar to Finasite.com. If you’re interested in this service, we encourage you to read this first-hand account of how AudioEye has changed the lives of those at Avon Grove School District.
Do I Need to Update my Site Right now to Comply with WCAG 2.1?
No. However, we will be following the legislation closely and ensuring our software and processes change to align with WCAG 2.1 as recommended by our trained and certified in-house accessibility specialists.
We feel confident that our processes and software will get up to speed with WCAG 2.1, as the new guidelines fall in-line with things we already do. For example, Per WCAG 2.1 1.4.10, all websites must be responsive. All of the websites Finalsite builds are automatically responsive, built with an attention to detail, and include a device preview tool.
As of now, sit tight. There aren’t any action items for your district.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Finalsite's Content Marketing Manager, and Marketing Manager for Public Schools, Mia creates content that is helpful to public schools and districts. As a former TV and news reporter, freelance cinematographer and certified inbound marketer, Mia specializes in helping schools find new ways to share their stories online through web design, social media, copywriting, photography and videography. She is the author of numerous blogs, and Finalsite's popular eBook, The Website Redesign Playbook.