WCAG 2.1 Accessibility Standards

May 22, 2023

Dating back to 1999, the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) published a set of accessibility criteria that websites should meet to stay in keeping with modern web standards. These standards are coined the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG, and are published with the intent of making the Internet fully accessible for everyone. Since the Internet is ever-evolving, these standards are usually updated every few years. The most recent update, WCAG 2.1, outlined twelve new accessibility standards. Though many of these new standards are features that our catalogs have been implementing for years, we did launch a few new software updates based on the release. Check out what exactly these updates mean for your institution, and how your students and staff will enjoy the improved accessibility as a result.

Clean Catalog Tests Against WCAG 2.1 Standards

We test all our sites against WCAG 2.1 standards, but are happy to test against another set of standards if that's what your institution requires

1.3.4: Screen Orientation

This first change requires that all web pages be viewable, no matter the orientation of the device it’s being viewed on. Since Clean Catalog implements fully-responsive site designs, every page of your catalog will adapt to fit the screen orientation. A student accessing your catalog on a vertically-oriented cell phone will have an equally accessible experience as the registrar accessing the catalog on a desktop computer screen.

1.3.5: Identify Input Purpose

In simplified terms, the ability to “identify input purpose” refers to a website’s ability to autofill information, typically when an admin logs in. This standard ensures that the correct information is being mapped to the correct form box, or in other words, so that your email address auto-populates in the “email” field rather than the “password” field. All Clean Catalog sites are programmed to map data for autofill fields. If one of your admin chooses to “save password” on their Internet browser, they will be prompted to autofill their login information the next time they try to login. Our sites are also compatible with SSL and 2-factor authentication, to ensure admin logins are always secure.

1.4.10: Reflow

The term “reflow” refers to a website’s ability to reformat site content when the user zooms in. For example, if a student with poor vision is accessing a page on your catalog, they may zoom in for better readability. This standard requires that web page content wraps within the browsing window, keeping the webpage easy to read and navigate, despite the large size. Many outdated websites become inoperable when zoomed in. Clean Catalog sites are still usable at zooms up to 400%, which surpasses the standard set by WCAG.

1.4.11: Non-Text Contrast

When a printer runs out of toner, you’re often left with a document printed in shades of gray, and the lack of contrast makes it very difficult to read. Something similar can happen on websites when graphic elements are not designed with contrasting colors. For a user with a visual impairment, this can make a website nearly impossible to read. With Clean Catalog, all of our text, graphics, and interactive components have full color contrast. This is most commonly seen in our degree charts, curriculum charts, and accordion boxes, all of which use contrasting colors to distinguish between different sections of information.

1.4.12: Text Spacing

The amount of text spacing on a website has a resounding impact on accessibility and readability. Websites with too little text spacing or line spacing present a hurdle for individuals with visual impairments or cognitive disabilities, such as dyslexia. Our catalog sites are all designed with abundant spacing to ensure easy readability for all users. Users can also use plug-ins to override the font, line spacing, paragraph spacing, and color scheme to make the webpage maximize their unique readability. This can be done without impacting the visual site design for other users.

2.5.3: Correct Labeling for Speech Users

According to WCAG standards, websites should be fully accessible for speech users. Speech users are individuals, typically with visual impairments, who navigate your website with voice commands. This standard requires specific back-end programming to ensure that speech commands, such as saying “click ‘go’”, result in the correct action. All Clean Catalog sites are accessible for speech users, with the correct back-end labeling to ensure their navigational experience runs smoothly. This is most commonly used on our search bar function, in which a speech user can verbalize what content they’re searching for, click “go” or “submit”, and have the appropriate search results appear.

All Clean Catalog sites meet WCAG standards by default, and we pride ourselves on continuing to surpass those criteria. If you’d like to learn more about the new WCAG 2.1 standards and how our sites put accessibility at the forefront, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.