WCAG Principle #3: Understandable
The ADA, or the Americans with Disabilities Act, helps develop laws, regulations, and design standards to ensure our society is accessible to all its members. Law firm websites design must consider accessibility standards developed in part by the ADA. These standards, known as the WCAG, must be met to stay compliant with the ADA.
What is WCAG?
WCAG stands for the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. These guidelines are a set of internationally developed standards that guide the accessible development of digital content, including websites and applications. The four principles which form the basis of WCAG are POUR.
What does the acronym POUR stand for?
POUR stands for perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. Understanding each of these principles is necessary to create content online available to all your potential clients. An inaccessible website is akin to having a building accessed only by stairs. Some may still find their way to you despite the obstacle; others will be turned away and seek help elsewhere. It is therefore vital that POUR be a consideration for attorney website design.
This article focuses on the WCAG Understandable principle. In brief, the other three principles mean:
Perceivable – Can the information be understood? For example – do videos have transcripts? Do images have alt-text describing them?
Operable – Not everyone accesses the web via keyboard and mouse. Is your attorney web design usable by everyone, even those with mobility issues?
Robust – Is it accessible by current operating systems, accessibility devices, and as many outdated systems as possible?
What does it mean for a website to be ‘Understandable’?
To quote from the WCAG guidelines: “Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.” In short, it means everyone can easily use and understand all parts of your website. Understandable law firm sites are better for everyone, not just those with impairments. It improves access and comprehension for everyone accessing the site. Ensure a coherent site, make it readable, predictable, and provide good input assistance.
How do I know if my website is readable?
Provide different types of content to assist in understanding the context and meaning of all your content. For example, video and audio captions and alt-text on images. Avoid large sections of bold or italicized text, which can be hard to read. Be mindful of jargon and technical terms; always provide clear definitions. If you want to provide multiple language options, code it to default to the user’s native language.
How can I ensure my website is predictable?
Don’t confuse users with new layouts and functions. To avoid this, each page should have a consistent design. If taking action will change the view, like pressing ‘Submit’ on a contract, provide users with a warning. Another way to help this is to make sure all repeating elements, like forms, should have the same basic look and function throughout the site. In addition, users should experience few, if any, surprises navigating your understandable attorney website.
How do I provide good input assistance?
Forms should note, highlight, and provide clear directions on correcting errors in the user’s input, and users should still be able to submit forms until the errors are addressed.
Law Firm Sites offers a skilled team of law firm website designers who are experienced with the WCAG Understandable principle and can help you create an ADA-compliant site accessible to all.
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