Ensuring Web Accessibility and Compliance with a Headless CMS
Russ Danner is VP Products at CrafterCMS and is responsible for product management, product development and support, and client and partner success. Russ brings over 20 years of software architecture, design, and implementation experience. Prior to CrafterCMS, Russ was Web Experience Management Practice Director at Rivet Logic (now Capgemini) and project lead for the open source CrafterCMS project.
Web accessibility is the practice of making websites and web content usable by people with disabilities. This includes individuals who are blind, deaf, have mobility impairments or other disabilities.
Ensuring that your company's website is accessible is not only a legal requirement but also helps create a better user experience for your customers. In addition, maintaining compliance with web accessibility guidelines can improve the efficiency of your content management processes.
By designing content and websites with accessibility in mind from the start, you can avoid the need for costly retrofits and redesigns down the line. How do you ensure everybody can access your website, mobile apps, and other web content? With the help of an enterprise-grade headless CMS that supports the core requirements such as CrafterCMS.
Web Accessibility and Compliance Laws
The legal requirements for ensuring web accessibility fall under compliance laws and regulations, specifically 508 and 504 compliance within the United States (US).
What Is 508 Compliance?
508 compliance is a US federal law that refers to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The law mandates that federal agencies create and use information technology that's accessible to people with disabilities. The scope includes not only websites but all types of software documents, smartphone apps, etc. It is relevant for US federal agencies and their departments and organizations doing business with US federal agencies.
What Is 504 Compliance?
504 compliance refers to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This law applies to entities that receive federal funding, such as schools, universities, hospitals, and nursing homes.
For those organizations not affected by either of these regulations, it still offers sound business practices, particularly when it comes to the SEO benefits that having an accessible website provides.
The Four Principles of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
The gold standard for web accessibility is known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These guidelines are designed to align with legal requirements, and the latest version of section 508 cites conformance with WCAG 2.0 as the standard of accessibility to which US federal organizations must conform.
Four principles of WCAG relate to websites and content applications. These applications must be 1. Perceivable, 2. Operable, 3. Understandable, and 4. Robust, and a set of guidelines is associated with each principle that guides web developers and content authors to guarantee compliance. With CrafterCMS, these guidelines can be adhered to as teams build digital experiences that excite their customers.
Perceivable refers to the fact that information and UI components must be presentable to users in a way they can perceive regardless of disability.
Organizations must provide alternatives for any non-text content, like images and videos. CrafterCMS's content modeling capability allows you to capture any amount of content and any amount of metadata for the types of assets like images, videos, audio clips, and documents. This includes additional metadata and descriptions so those assets can be presented to the user.
This includes live and pre-recorded audio and video. For these types of assets, CrafterCMS integrates with asset processing platforms, like AWS Transcribe, which can produce closed caption alternatives for both video and audio assets.
Content should be adaptable so that it can be presented in different ways without losing information or structure.CrafterCMS is a content-first and API-first platform that allows you to capture and store content in a presentation this way so that it can be served to a digital experience in the most appropriate use case.
Users must be able to see and hear content, including separating foreground from background CrafterCMS gives UX designers complete control over the presentation and the options for presentation to accomplish this. Extensive authoring tools provide a fully functional preview of the different experiences and scenarios that can take place within a particular experience, which means that they can test and confirm the accessibility for human testing and automated testing.
User interface components and navigation must be operable to people with any disability. That means keyboard accessibility so they have enough time to consume the content. The site and content must be navigable to enable users to operate using various inputs beyond a keyboard.
CrafterCMS addresses these operable requirements using content modeling that provides configuration to support the accessibility needs. As a headless platform, CrafterCMS makes it possible to serve any kind of content to any frontend for any experience. It places the ability to meet these requirements in the hands of the designers and the developers building applications. With in-context preview capabilities, authors and testers, both human and automated, can certify accessibility compliance.
Information and the operation of the UI must be understandable to people with any disability. The textual content must be readable and understandable.
At its core, readability is an editorial concern that comes down to the content author thinking about and knowing their audience. CrafterCMS easily integrates with copy analysis platforms like Grammarly to help ensure that the content is written in an accessible manner. Other tools leverage natural language processing to help authors ensure that they are speaking appropriately for their audience, and these can also be integrated with CrafterCMS.
Content should be predictable, and webpages should appear and operate in predictable ways. In CrafterCMS, developers have complete control over the markup, full control over the frameworks, and how the pages and applications work. Tutorials on various technologies such as Bootstrap, Vue, React, and many others are also available to help developers get started with frameworks built with these objectives in mind.
This involves helping users avoid and correct any mistakes. CrafterCMS's content modeling tool supports rules and constraints and integrations with external systems to help prevent and correct authoring mistakes.
Content must be able to be interpreted by a wide variety of users, including those that are using assistive technologies. The one guideline under this principle is compatibility, meaning that organizations need to maximize compatibility with current and future users and user proxies, including assistive technologies.
CrafterCMS places no constraints on developers building experiences using the CMS, allowing them to meet today and future requirements. Crafter also supports an unprecedented level of integration between developers, and content authors, allowing them to run new features and use cases much faster. CrafterCMS also recaptures and enforces conduct and appreciation list formatting allowing you to reuse content for several different use cases.
How CrafterCMS Supports WCAG-Compliant Websites
CrafterCMS is an enterprise-grade headless platform that allows you to use any technology or frontend framework to create experiences, including websites, apps, and more. It also includes a plugin framework to install text analysis tools, image analysis tools, compliance checkers, and other tools to automate the testing of these experiences and ensure that you are compliant before you deploy.
More information about web accessibility and compliance using CrafterCMS is available on this CrafterCast episode. Ready to see it in action? You are welcome to start a free trial of CrafterCMS today.
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