Australia’s first AAA Accessible website
Wiliam have recently redeveloped and launched the new Guide Dogs NSW website, Australia’s first AAA accessible website.
So what makes a AAA Accessible website and why is it important?
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) categorise the levels of conformance to their accessibility guidelines as A (the lowest level of conformance), AA (a higher level of conformance) and AAA (the highest level of conformance.
Level A accessibility is all rules that must be adhered to for a site to be accessible by all audiences.
Level AA accessibility is all rules that should be adhered to for a site to be accessible by all audiences.
Level AAA accessibility is additional rules that could be adhered to for a site to be accessible by all audiences.
A friend of mine, Jon Dodd from Bunnyfoot UK, once drew an analogy between website accessibility and wheelchair ramps for buildings.
He said that a website that doesn’t even conform to Level A was like a building with no access ramp, that is to say inaccessible to wheelchair users.
Level A conformance is like providing a basic ramp, the ramp might be steep and difficult to navigate, but a wheelchair can physically access the building.
Level AA conformance is like providing a much smoother ramp, making accessing the building far easier for a wheelchair, but the wheelchair user still has to physically push themselves up the ramp.
Finally, Level AAA conformance is like providing a travelator, so that the wheelchair user can easily access the site.
The Guide Dogs NSW website has been built to Level AAA conformance and goes well beyond in many cases, with other features which are not technically requirements as laid down by the W3C, but make the website easier to use by all users.
So why is accessibility important?
There have been major legal ramifications for website owners in the UK and US regarding accessibility. Largely due to the fact that most companies store information for consumer access online to save costs and time, yet their websites are regularly less than a Level A accessible website, making it impossible for people with disabilities to access the content. In turn, discrimination and equal rights discussions are brought up and can result in nasty legal battles.