Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Compliance

Adopting WCAG means creating a more accessible web. Get compliant now to prevent lawsuits, improve UX, and position your organization as a leader.

Are you legally required to follow WCAG?

Although the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are not enforceable requirements by themselves, there are many accessibility regulations worldwide that do require conformance with WCAG success criteria (while WCAG 2.0 A and AA criteria is currently the most widely adopted requirement, we are already seeing the shift to WCAG 2.1 A and AA in legal settlements worldwide as well as adoption in laws in some countries).

For example, Section 508, AODA, CVAA, and the Australian DDA are currently still based on WCAG 2.0 Level A and AA success criteria. Most legal settlements and U.S. Department of Justice Consent Decrees are already referencing WCAG 2.1 A/AA)  The EU Accessibility Directive uses WCAG 2.1 Level A and AA.

What are the different WCAG levels A, AA, and AAA?

WCAG has four overarching principles (POUR) to determine whether something is compliant. There are a total of 13 guidelines beneath the four main principles. And under each guideline has a series of Success Criteria (objective and measurable requirements).

There are three types of guidance in Techniques for WCAG 2.0: sufficient techniques, advisory techniques, and failures. Each sufficient technique is a documented way to meet a success criterion/requirement.  Do keep in mind that sufficient techniques are NOT requirements themselves.  They are simply a possible way to meet a requirement. Advisory techniques might help some people with disabilities but they may not be sufficient to meet the entire requirement. Failures are barriers to your web content and prevent you from being fully compliant.


  • Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language.
  • Provide alternatives for time-based media.
  • Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure.
  • Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.


  • Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
  • Provide users enough time to read and use content.
  • Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures.
  • Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are.
  • Make it easier for users to operate functionality through various inputs beyond keyboard.


  • Make text content readable and understandable.
  • Make Web pages appear and operate in predictable ways.
  • Help users avoid and correct mistakes.


  • Maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies.

What are the most common WCAG issues?

We compiled anonymized audit data from a large number of companies across various industries and geographies, spanning 13,000+ pages/page states, and nearly 300,000 issues to understand more about testing coverage and common issues. We found that the Success Criteria 3.1.1 Language of Page, 4.1.1 Parsing, 1.4.3 Contrast (Minimum), 2.4.1 Bypass Blocks, 1.1.1 Non-Text Content, 4.1.2 Name, Role, Value and 1.3.1 Info and Relationships accounted for over 80% of total issues found.

Table 1: WCAG Success Criteria with the Most Issues
# Success Criteria # Success Criteria Name Total issues Manual issues Auto issues Manual % Auto % % of ALL Issues by SC Cumulative % of Issues
1 1.4.3 Contrast (Minimum) 88,714 14,981 73,733 16.89% 83.11% 30.08% 30.08%
2 4.1.2 Name, Role, Value 48,287 22,011 26,276 45.58% 54.42% 16.37% 46.45%
3 1.3.1 Info and Relationships 36,382 19,950 16,432 54.83% 45.17% 12.33% 58.78%
4 4.1.1 Parsing 34,488 3,351 31137 9.72% 90.28% 11.69% 70.47%
5 1.1.1 Non-text Content 23,701 7,687 16,014 32.43% 67.57% 8.04% 78.51%
6 2.4.3 Focus Order 9,553 9,553 0 100.00% 0.00% 3.24% 81.75%
7 2.1.1 Keyboard 9,412 9,178 234 97.51% 2.49% 3.19% 84.94%
8 2.4.7 Focus Visible 7,312 7,312 0 100.00% 0.00% 2.48% 87.42%
9 1.4.11 Non-text Contrast 4,539 4,539 0 100.00% 0.00% 1.54% 88.96%
10 1.4.1 Use of Color 3,713 3,261 452 87.83% 12.17% 1.26% 90.22%
11 1.3.2 Meaningful Sequence 3,313 3,313 0 100.00% 0.00% 1.12% 91.34%
12 3.3.2 Labels or Instructions 2,537 2,019 518 79.58% 20.42% 0.86% 92.20%
13 2.4.1 Bypass Blocks 2,533 532 2,001 21.00% 79.00% 0.86% 93.06%
14 2.4.2 Page Titled 2,211 1,962 249 88.74% 11.26% 0.75% 93.81%
15 3.1.1 Language of Page 2,173 178 1,995 8.19% 91.81% 0.74% 94.54%
#.#.# Rest of WCAG 2.1 A/AA SC 16,090 15,889 201 98.75 % 1.25 % 5.46% 100.00%
Totals 294,958 125,716 169,242 42.62 % 57.38 %

Is it possible to meet 100% of the WCAG success criteria?

We consistently tell our clients: Compliance is about progress, not perfection. There are few (if any) organizations that have zero WCAG issues. While you should strive for 100%, it is more reasonable to set a sustainable goal of having no critical errors, while also passing 90% or more of the WCAG 2.1 A/AA requirements.

Progress, not perfection with a start button

How to take action and conform to WCAG

1. Perform an audit

Have a complete accessibility audit performed on your site and apps to determine your current level of accessibility.

2. Prioritize severe issues

Determine which parts of your site or app need to be prioritized based on usage and the severity of the accessibility barriers. Consider outsourcing remediation if time is of the essence.

3. Commit to the practice

Train your dev teams and empower them with tools to prevent new accessibility barriers from entering your products.

How Deque Can Help

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Most accessibility projects begin and end with an audit – they assess the current state of your site or application’s accessibility resulting in a clear accessibility report.

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Accessibility Fundamentals: Disabilities, Guidelines, and Laws. This course provides an overview of important web accessibility concepts, suitable for both technical and non-technical audiences.

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If you’re looking for help with previous guidelines or the latest WCAG 2.2, we’re available to help now.

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The axe DevTools, axe Auditor and axe Monitor products enable accessibility experts and development to test and maintain accessibility end-to-end.

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