Accessible design enhances the overall user experience and allows users with disabilities to easily navigate and interact with a product.

Overview of Accessibility Standards

Accessibility is the concept of making your products usable by as many people as possible. Websites and applications are accessible when they provide full control over their features by enabling users with disabilities to access their content through assistive technologies and keyboard navigation. That said, accessible products benefit everyone.

Accessible websites and applications normally comply with the following standards:

Section 508

Since 1998, Section 508 is part of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 508 represents a set of accessibility standards which were defined by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and which initially applied to Federal agencies only with the aim to ensure that their electronic and information technology is accessible to people with disabilities.

In 2017, Section 508 was reorganized to meet and reflect recent communication technology innovations and nowadays the Section 508 guidelines impact not only all U.S. Federal agencies, but also affect any company which does business with a Federal agency. Such companies include vendors, private contractors, financial industry, healthcare and legal organizations, and partners of those agencies which operate in the United States or abroad.

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Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which are set by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), define recommendations for making web content accessible to people with physical and cognitive disabilities. WCAG defines accessibility principles with their respective success criteria. Depending on the implemented success criteria by a web application, the WCAG provide the A, AA, and AAA levels of accessibility conformance.

To be accessible, web content has to be consistent with the following principles:

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WAI-ARIA is a set of technical specifications which were developed by the W3C and which provide the semantics for the assistive technologies to access and interpret web content and web applications. The WAI-ARIA recommendations (standards) divide the semantics into roles and into states and properties that those roles support. For example, a checkbox role supports the aria-checked state which indicates whether a checkbox, radio button, or a similar UI element is checked.

The WAI-ARIA framework targets web developers who create web applications by using AJAX, scripting, and other rich application techniques.

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