WCAG Compliance: accessiBe Guide to Web Accessibility

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WCAG Compliance

How unaccommodating is the internet to people with hearing, vision, motor, and other difficulties? To put it in numbers, only around 2 percent of websites around the world are considered web-accessible, but 20 percent of the popular have disabilities.

Based on a survey of 10 million pages, 98 out of 100 internal pages do not comply with WCAG standards. It’s clear that an overwhelming majority of sites don’t take accessibility into account even with laws requiring them to follow specific standards.

This should not be the case. More than half of people with disabilities (PWDs) are internet users. Ignoring them means foregoing potential customers or site visitors who can contribute to ad revenue generation. More importantly, these people mean potential lawsuits for being inaccessible with web accessibility legislation such as ADA, Section 508, EAA/EN301548, and many more worldwide.

Violations of the accessibility standards required by these laws can result in heavy fines and costly attorney fees. Furthermore, the problem does not end with penalties and litigation costs. Courts will ultimately require offending sites to adopt accessibility measures, which means you will have to spend more on web accessibility solutions in the end.

WCAG (web content accessibility guidelines) are the guidelines or instructions to make a website accessible, according to the W3C. The problem is, they take a long time to implement.

accessiBe, an AI-driven web accessibility solution, acknowledges this problem, which is why it is offering a fast and easy way for website owners to achieve web accessibility and WCAG 2.1 compliance. 

accessiBe offers an enticing solution with its fully automated system that ensures compliance with ADA and WCAG standards, which are the most widely adopted and recognized web accessibility standards. It is an ideal tool for protection against accessibility lawsuits, a tool to open your website to everyone, and a way to boost brand perception.

How accessiBe provides quick web accessibility audits for your website

Typical users wouldn’t expect a website to have web accessibility issues. In reality, though, many sites are non-compliant with WCAG standards.

aCe, an online WCAG and ADA testing tool by accessiBe, does an automated audit of your homepage and can rate it as compliant, non-compliant, or semi-compliant. 

Some of the most prominent issues detected on websites are the absence of tagging for assistive technology, lack of keyboard-based navigability of interactive elements, non-representation of collapsed/expanded state in the website’s code, inclusion of non-functional icons and spacers in assistive technology tagging, and the improper labeling of form fields.

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To arrive at this evaluation, aCe examines a website based on several categories: Clickables, Titles, Orientation, Menus, Graphics, Forms, Document, Readability, Carousels, Tables, and General. It presents scores for the different evaluation categories, then shows a checklist that indicates standards that a page has passed or failed.

In addition to the standards checklist, aCe provides specific details as to why a page violates a particular standard. These details give website owners an idea of what can be improved. Anyone can use this tool to achieve accessibility for their websites manually.

However, accessiBe offers a considerably more convenient, efficient, and effective solution. How does accessiBe do it? Let’s go to a website that already runs accessiBe. See the accessibility button at the corner? Clicking on it opens the accessiBe interface. 

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The button may look different in other accessiBe optimized sites. Other buttons could look like any of the icons shown below. Some sites may use text links with the anchor “Web Accessibility,” which may be positioned at the header, navigation bar, or the footer part of the site.

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accessiBe interface

The accessiBe interface is a utility window that provides a host of customization options for a web page. With it, someone browsing a specific page can change the way that page looks and behaves just for that specific session. 

This interface can be opened at any point of a user’s website stay. You can continue interacting with the website while tinkering with the functions of the interface. The adjustments you make on the interface are reflected instantly on the site. You can scroll up and down and see the changes you select take effect.

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accessiBe profiles

Some users may not understand exactly which features they need to use within the Orientation Adjustment functions. accessiBe understands this usability obstacle, so they offer profiles for users to conveniently select. These profiles bundle together common accessibility combinations that address the needs of a specific disability.

These profiles are shown right before the other functions on the accessiBe interface. Users can simply click on the profile they find most appropriate to activate various adjustments and proceed to browsing.

  • Epilepsy Safe Profile – Designed for people who suffer from photosensitivity epileptic attacks, this profile automatically removes flashing lights or blinking animations on a page. It also alters visual patterns or color combinations that are known to induce seizures. Additionally, it disables videos as they can also contain potential triggers for epilepsy.
  • Visually Impaired Profile – This is the prescribed profile for people who have difficulties seeing or those with glaucoma, degrading eyesight, cataracts, and tunnel vision. This profile automatically scales the content on a page up by 100 percent, activates the text magnifier, and selects the high saturation color scheme.
  • Cognitive Disability Profile – This is the profile designed for people who manifest symptoms of dyslexia, autism, and disorders associated with cognitive disabilities. The profile initiates the reading guide, zooms in on the page by 25%, highlights titles and links, and stops animated elements on a page.
  • ADHD Friendly Profile – Intended for people with focus problems, this profile activates the Reading Mask function, scales the page content up by 25 percent, stops animations, and switches to the High Saturation color scheme.
  • Blind Users (Screen Reader) – This profile automatically prompts to screen reader users, making a page compatible with screen readers such as TalkBack, JAWS, VoiceOver, and NVDA. It also works with the built-in Narrator app of Windows. Since blind users are expected to use their keyboards to navigate a page, this profile automatically activates the Keyboard Navigation profile.
  • Keyboard Navigation (Motor) – This profile is automatically prompted to motor-impaired persons, making a site easier to navigate using the keyboard. It assigns letter shortcuts to quickly access specific sections of a page such as M for the menus, H for the headings, and B for buttons.

It is possible to activate other functions while engaging a specific profile. The adjustments are added to the automatically initiated adjustments under a selected profile. For example, you can activate the large cursor function in addition to the changes made under the Visually Impaired Profile. You can also disable some of the adjustments under your chosen profile without getting reverted to the original, unadjusted appearance and behavior of a page.

Click the Reset Settings button if you want to deactivate all adjustments. For example, if you enable the Reading Guide while using the Epilepsy Safe Profile, the Reading Guide will not disappear as you turn the Epilepsy Safe Profile off. You have to reset all settings or look for the Reading Guide button and toggle it off.

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Standalone accessibility adjustments

The customizations made on a website will be carried out to the next page within the same website you open. In order to turn off the adjustments, you can unclick them within the interface or click on ‘Reset settings’ at the top of the interface.

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If you set a specific color for the background or texts, you will see the changes persist in other pages. However, if you activate the Mute Sounds option, you cannot expect all audios in the site to be muted. The widget only mutes sounds hosted within the same server used by the site. If there are embedded videos like YouTube clips or multimedia content added to the site through iframes, the volume will not be affected.

There are three sets of adjustment functions available. These are Content Adjustments, Color Adjustments, and Orientation Adjustments.

Content adjustments

Under Content Adjustments, you can perform content scaling, which resizes page elements in a way that makes a page look more organized. This function does not simply increase the size of the font or images at the same scale at the same time. It adjusts the content to make a page easier on the eyes.

The Readable Font button switches font styles across a page. Tight and narrow fonts are expanded, while large and widely-spaced ones are compacted. In case further font adjustments need to be made to suit a specific user’s preferences, then this feature can be used along with font sizing, font line height, and letter spacing.

Additionally, accessiBe makes it possible to highlight titles. The highlight used is a thin line that encloses all the titles on a page. There is also a Highlight Links feature that makes it easy to spot hyperlinks or clickable texts. 

The Content Adjustments set of functions also allow the modification of text alignment (center, left, or right). Plus, it provides a Text Magnifier. You have to hide/close the accessiBe interface first for the magnifier function to take effect.

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Color adjustments

For color adjustments, accessiBe allows users to set different color contrast schemes: dark contrast, light contrast, high saturation, high contrast, or low saturation. There is also an option to turn everything into monochrome (including the accessiBe interface). Additionally, you can adjust the text, title, and background colors. The screenshot below shows the result of enabling the Dark Contrast scheme.

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Orientation adjustments

The functions under the Orientation Adjustments set include sound muting, image hiding, virtual keyboard, reading guide, animation suspension, reading masking, hover highlighting, focus highlighting, and cursor appearance modification (big black or big white).

The reading guide and reading mask functions share the same purpose: helping users focus on specific texts on a page. They are useful when going over lengthy blocks of texts. The screenshot below shows the Reading Mask function in action.

The Useful Links function displays a sitemap to make it easy to go to specific sections of a page. It is a convenient tool when navigating long or endless scrolling website designs.

The Highlight Hover function draws lines that separate the different elements on a page to facilitate navigation. This makes it easy for a user to know which parts to click or what keyword to say when using voice-based navigation.

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Highlight features

Affordable, effortless, and compliant: these are the selling points accessiBe uses in its promotions. It’s difficult to argue with these claims considering how easy it is to implement this web accessibility solution for any website. This ease of use results in 24/7 compliance with minimal time and effort, which means it is a cost-efficient way of avoiding possible web accessibility complaints and litigation.

Quick and easy implementation

All you need to have accessiBe on your site is to insert a single line of script into your website’s code. You don’t have to revise or adjust your site page by page. Once the script is installed, your site becomes compliant to web accessibility requirements. In turn, you get to avoid the inconveniences of facing accessibility complaints as well as the bad press that comes with possible lawsuits.

Platform-agnostic

Regardless of the content management system or OS you use, you can take advantage of accessiBe’s innovative AI-powered dynamic web accessibility adjustments for your site. Using it is mostly a web-based activity. There is no specific software or OS version to use.

You can install the accessiBe script onto a WordPress, Wix, Volusion, GTM, Squarespace, 3Dcart, Drupal, Magento, NET Nuke, Shopify, WooCommerce, Web.com, BigCommerce, Joomla, PrestaShop, Concrete5, Jimo, Site123, Umbraco, or Webflow website. Also, the interface runs in virtually all web browsers. It does not require Flash support to work.

Highly scalable and efficient web accessibility

accessiBe easily trounces any manual web accessibility solution. This argument is supported by accessiBe’s scalability. It does not matter how many pages you have on your website. You also don’t need to worry about the possibility of creating several thousands more. The way accessiBe works is not affected by the number, variation, and complexity of pages.

Once the accessiBe script is added to a site, the interface appears on all pages, including newly published ones. Within 48 hours, the AI will have scanned your entire website, fixing accessibility errors on the fly making it fully compliant. In contrast, manual web accessibility tweaks entail page-by-page adjustments that are meant to be permanent. The manual process is indubitably more costly and tedious. It is also prone to mistakes that can lead to delays and possible on-page errors.

Extensive customization to suit all website kinds and styles

accessiBe is quickly becoming the perfect third-party web accessibility solution for business websites. It is not only scalable; it can also be personalized to match the look or style of any website.

More than 20 accessibility icons are available, from the standard man-in-a-wheelchair to the various human figures and text icons. The icon may be positioned on any part of a page. The interface can be moved to the left or right and hidden when not in use. Additionally, the colors, shape, and size of the accessiBe interface are customizable.

Powered by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

accessiBe goes beyond the basics of web accessibility. It does not only provide the functions to change the appearance of a page, but also utilizes AI and advanced image recognition to scan a page and determine elements that should have proper tagging to enable accessibility for blind users or those who rely on accessibility tools to navigate web pages.

It is a contextually-aware system capable of accurately identifying what is being displayed on a page. It scans all images and supplies alternative texts or alt tags to those that lack them. Additionally, it can read texts in images through its sophisticated optical character recognition (OCR) system.

With these features, accessiBe ensures that web pages will no longer be out of reach for blind users. It makes everything on a page compatible with popular screen readers and other accessibility tools.

Moreover, accessiBe continues learning from every instance of use. With more sites adopting it as their web accessibility solution of choice, accessiBe’s accuracy only improves further. 

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Setup and implementation

Fast and easy: this is probably the best way to describe the implementation of accessiBe on any website. The process is a simple as copying the accessiBe script to the code of a website. It is comparable to adding Google Analytics to a site.

Before you can start using accessiBe, though, you have to sign up for an account at the accessiBe website. The account registration process takes around a minute. There are no special requirements. You just have to enter your name, email address, phone number, and password (for the account you are creating). You will be automatically logged in to your account once it has been created. 

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The next step is to add the domain name of your website. To do this, you have to click on the My Websites tab in your account dashboard. Click on the Add Websites button and enter the domain name of your sites.

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The last and only slightly challenging part of using accessiBe is the installation of the script into your website’s code.

For this, you have to go to the </> Installation tab (right after My Websites). You will be presented with two installation options: Quick & Basic and Advanced.

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With the Quick & Basic method, you simply have to copy the script shown in the dashboard, then copy it to your site’s code. The instructions on which specific portion of your code to install the script are provided through the Installation Guides at the bottom part of your account dashboard.

Doing Quick & Basic installation only takes a few minutes, but it does not allow you to customize your interface. Note: you can no longer change the appearance of your widget once it has been installed. If you want to modify it, you need to remove the script and add a new one by following the instructions for doing Advanced installation.

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You have to go through the different customizations for advanced installation. These customizations include the selection of the accessibility button icon, button shape, button position, interface position, and interface color. Once you are done customizing, you have to click the Generate Custom Script button to show the accessiBe script you will be adding to your website’s code.

Again, the guides on which specific part of your site’s code to add the accessiBe script are provided through the Installation Guides at the bottom part of the account dashboard. If you can’t find the button for your CMS, go to the footer part of the accessiBe site to find the Integrations & Installation link. This will lead you to a comprehensive collection of installation guides.

The platform comes with plugins for easy installation on popular content management systems. On WordPress, for example, there is an option to directly install the plugin from your dashboard.

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You will then need to activate the plugin:

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And then paste in the accessiBe code, which can either be the default code or a customized code.

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After installing the script, the accessiBe interface will immediately appear, providing you with 30% of the WCAG, mostly design related. You have to wait for at most 48 hours for accessiBe to perform an analysis of your site and provide the applicable modifications, completing the remaining 70% of the WCAG adjustments. 

Security and privacy

accessiBe’s web accessibility solution is GDPR and CCPA compliant. 

GDPR is the General Data Protection Regulation established under European Union laws to protect data privacy for internet users in the EU region. CCPA is the California Consumer Privacy Act, a statute created to enhance privacy rights and consumer protection.

Also, accessiBe’s cybersecurity practices have been audited by Cybertechnica. The web accessibility solution offered by the company is regarded as adequately secure.

Effective and noninvasive web accessibility

Tens of thousands of websites are already using accessiBe to ensure compliance with accessibility standards and thus mitigate web accessibility lawsuits. Some of the high-profile users are Intex, BMW, Hilton, Quicksilver, The Peninsula Hotels, Seiko, Linksys, Lexus, Trend Micro, and Volvo. SmallBizTrnds and LonelyPlanet also have accessiBe on their sites.

The fact that several big brands allow the installation of the accessiBe script into their sites reflects well on accessiBe’s credibility and the truthfulness of its noninvasive approach to enabling accessibility. This solution does not change the code of its target website. The installation of the script is done to analyze the site and facilitate the implementation of the necessary changes. It does not alter the behavior and appearance of a site permanently.

The accessiBe application works asynchronously with the site it is added to. This means that the website and the interface operate separately. accessiBe does not create an additional load on a website’s server. As such, it is unlikely for sites to encounter performance issues. Sites that use accessiBe maintain their usual page loading time and responsiveness.

Moreover, accessiBe’s interface is extensively customizable. It can be personalized to suit the distinctive design, style, or color scheme of a specific website. Also, different icons, interface sizing, and placement may be used so a site does not look generic or ordinary.

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accessiBe pricing

accessiBe starts you off with a 7-day free trial, and then it offers reasonably priced plans to suit the varying needs of different businesses. accessiBe offers a seven-day free trial to allow potential users to experience the advantages of using an automatic and AI-powered accessibility solution. The trial provides access to all features without requiring credit card details.

The Standard plan, which is good for less than a thousand unique pages, is available for $490 per year or $49 per month. The Large plan costs $990 per year or $99 per month and covers below 10,000 unique pages. 

For bigger businesses, the Huge plan is offered at $1990 per year or $199 per month and covers 100,000 unique pages. The largest plan you can get is the Jumbo, which costs $3490 a year or $349 a month, and is intended for up to 1 million unique pages.

You get the same set of features and functions for all plans. Essentially, they are only different in the number of unique pages they cover. All plans have the same monthly compliance audits for registered websites, daily monitoring, and cloud updates.

Is the price too expensive? There are no direct competitors that can match the features offered by accessiBe, so it’s difficult to give a straightforward yes or no answer. However, the manual alternatives can cost you thousands of dollars because of the labor, and it can take up to three months for an accessibility expert to go through your website line by line. accessiBe does all of this for a fraction of the time, so naturally it’s a fraction of the cost.

It’s important to point out that getting involved in web accessibility-related litigation is costly. Legal fees can go as high as $20,000 initially. Add to this cost the fact that you will eventually be compelled by courts to implement changes that enable web accessibility. It’s only logical to spend on a reliable web accessibility solution as soon as possible and avoid cumbersome lawsuits.

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Customer support

As a paid web accessibility service, accessiBe provides competent customer support. You can contact support staff through instant messaging by clicking on the persistent chat button on accessiBe’s website. You can also send an email through the forms on the Support page.

While waiting for a response from the support staff, you may skim through accessiBe’s searchable collection of answers to frequently asked questions on the Support page. You can find guides, tutorials, and information about account management, accessiBe’s products and technology, installation, integration, customization, design, and troubleshooting.

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Conclusion

Compared to doing manual web accessibility solutions and free plugins, accessiBe is without a doubt the superior option. It can cost a company a few hundred dollars every year, but the convenience and lawsuit protection it provides are well justified.

accessiBe’s smart approach in providing website users a way to make pages web-accessible ensures that lawsuits pertaining to ADA Title III and other similar laws will not prosper. This is made possible without doing significant changes to a website. It is also scalable and works as a one-size-fits-all solution. It can be used on any website regardless of the number of pages and the nature of the content.

accessiBe’s innovative approach could be the solution 98 percent of the world’s websites need to become WCA-compliant. Nothing comes close to it in providing a quick and easy way to turn a non-compliant site into one that is fully web-accessible.

Give accessiBe a try and decide if it is the right solution you need. Take advantage of the seven-day free trial period with no credit card details required. Find out if a single script can indeed be enough to attract people with disabilities to your site and avoid web accessibility litigation.

More resources:

  1. Free web accessibility plugins don’t do the job they advertise: https://www.journaldev.com/40958/beware-free-web-accessibility-plugins-issues
  2. Introducing Web Accessibility and an overview of the tools today:
    https://medium.com/fbdevclagos/why-web-accessibility-is-important-and-how-you-can-accomplish-it-4f59fda7859c
  3. Why web accessibility is important for user experience and engagement:
    https://www.rightmixmarketing.com/ecommerce/ux-traits-of-most-successful-ecommerce-brands/
  4. How AI is disrupting web accessibility:
    https://www.nimble.com/blog/how-ai-is-improving-web-accessibility/
  5. Accessibility and web design: https://www.designer-daily.com/why-is-accessibility-in-a-web-design-essential-and-how-to-be-compliant-106549

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