Websites of the (semi-) government published after September 23, 2018, must comply with the new guidelines for accessible websites. This also applies to WordPress websites. The guidelines are laid down in the standards EN301549 and WCAG 2.0. From September 23, 2020, this legal obligation applies even to all websites of the (semi-) government. In this article, we explain what you should look out for to make your WordPress website comply with these new accessibility guidelines.
What exactly is EN301549 and WCAG 2.0 for WordPress?
People with a disability are often also limited in the use of digital techniques and media. A color blind person can not see in a webshop with color picker which color to choose. A deaf person can not hear the sound of a video. A blind person is dependent on a speech computer that cannot ‘read out’ what a picture looks like. Visually impaired people often struggle with too little contrast and people with an increased chance of a chance cannot handle flashing animations and movements. There are numerous examples.
To ensure digital accessibility for people with a disability, European guidelines have been laid down under number EN301549. These guidelines describe the accessibility of all kinds of ICT applications subdivided into different chapters on hardware, software, mobile apps, audio/video, documents, and of course websites. The chapter on websites corresponds to the international web accessibility guidelines known as WCAG 2.0 (WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). And it is, therefore, the guidelines of WCAG 2.0 that also apply to (WordPress) websites.
WCAG 2.0 level A, AA or AAA for WordPress?
WCAG 2.0 has been drawn up as one package of guidelines, but divided into three levels: Level A, Level AA and Level AAA. Level A is the easiest to implement, AA is already more complicated, and AAA is quite complex. In addition, there is also WCAG version 2.1. But what level and which version do you actually have to comply with? The government has stipulated that WCAG 2.0 Level AA is required to comply with the legal requirement.
How does your WordPress website meet WCAG 2.0, level AA?
Let’s start with the good news: WordPress offers as a CMS a very solid foundation for your website to comply with WCAG 2.0. For example, the media library is provided with the option to provide the required image descriptions as standard and a WordPress menu is generated in the correct way by default. However, the theme and plugins that you have run on your WordPress website can throw a spanner in the works. Not every theme and plug-in builder follows the WCAG guidelines. A critical look at the themes and techniques used is therefore important.
Guidelines for editing
In addition to technical adjustments, the WCAG 2.0 guidelines also contain a lot of instructions for content and therefore for the editors. Consider, for example, the way in which your pages are written (clear language), but also how you link in your texts to other pages (not ‘click here’, but a clear description). In addition, use the same menu layout and header on each page and avoid automatically playing content and animations.
Also when embedding external content (movies, news feeds, etc.) you have to be careful that this content also complies with the guidelines. In addition, images must be provided with tags that describe the image. Fortunately, the Dutch Government has drawn up a simple explanation of the accessibility requirements for editors: it is highly recommended to go through it as a content employee!
An important requirement for (semi-) government websites to comply with the new accessibility requirements is to publish an accessibility statement on your website. This is a separate page on your website where you explain that your website has been made accessible according to the guidelines and how you have achieved this. For the drafting of such a statement you can use the step-by-step plan of accessibility statement .
In this article we explained what WCAG 2.0 (or EN301549) entails and what the implications are. We also explained that the guidelines require action on both editorial and technical level. Do you need help to have your WordPress website meet the WCAG 2.0 standards? View our service for WCAG 2.0 implementation for WordPress .