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Please note that this is only my personal interpretation of WCAG. Secondly, please note that this interpretation has been written specifically with HTML and XHTML in mind, and there are more to the checkpoints than this. Finally, be aware that this article is based on the working draft of 23rd November 2005. As further drafts and/or final recommendations are produced, this article may require amendment. Please check the latest version.

Article sections

  1. Technology Baseline
  2. Design Principles  
  3. Success Criteria  
  4. Conformance Claims  
  5. Single-A Conformance Criteria
  6. Double-A Conformance Criteria  
  7. Triple-A Conformance Criteria  

Return to Contents

Level A Conformance Criteria

Success CriterionDescription
1.1.1All non text content used to convey information should have a text alternative that conveys the same information.
1.1.2All functional non-text content should have a text alternative that offers the same function. If this is not possible, then the text alternative should identify the purpose of the non-text content.
1.1.3All non-text content that conveys a sensory experience should have the non-text content identified with a descriptive label ("restful music", "a peaceful woodland glade")
1.1.4All non-text content that is not used to convey information, function or a sensory experience should be marked so that it can be ignored by assistive technology. This normally just means using alt="".
1.1.5Live video or audio feeds should have a text alternative which identifies the purpose of the content.
1.2.1Provide captions for pre-recorded multimedia.
1.2.2Provide audio descriptions for pre-recorded multimedia.
1.3.1Mark up structures correctly (use list markup, table markup, header markup, form markup etc correctly and wherever appropriate).
1.3.2Ensure that access to content is not dependent on colour OR that your baseline technologies are able to programmatically identify the colour (in practise, ensure information is not conveyed by colour alone).
2.1.1Everything must be available from the keyboard in a manner that is not time dependent (except where the task specifically requires time dependent input).
2.2.1For any time outs, allow users to do at least one of the following:
  1. adjust the time out to 10x default;
  2. allow user to deactivate timeout;
  3. allow user to extend time out multiple times)
UNLESS time out is part of a real time event (e.g. an auction) or part of an activity where timing is essential (e.g. online gaming).
2.3.1If content violates the general flash threshold or the red flash threshold users must be warned in a way that allows them to avoid it (independently of the technology baseline).
2.4.1Do use headings, group links, mark up links properly, Don't use scripting for links, misuse headers, use structural markup for presentation.
2.5.1Describe input error messages clearly and in the text.
3.1.1Use markup to identify the natural language of the document.
3.2.1Do not change the information or function as a result of a change of focus (e.g. do not change the information available to the page or open new pages as a result of a change in focus — although using css to change the styling is appropriate)
4.1.1Content should be able to be parsed unambiguously by user agents (ensure tags are closed and nested properly, use unique IDs). Validation is an optional technique for this criterion (a validated page passes but an invalid page does not necessarily fail).
4.2.1If a page does not meet all level A criteria, an alternate page with the same content should be available that does meet all level A criteria.
4.2.2If the content can be entered using a keyboard it should be able to be existed using the keyboard (to my mind this is already covered more strongly by criterion 2.1.1)
4.2.3Allow users to determine the types of control and their state — for (X)HTML use forms and form elements properly; for DHTML use XHTML role, state and values attributes.
4.2.4Labels should be used for all user interface elements and explicitly associated with the associated control.
4.2.5Use (X)HTML according to specification for user interface elements to ensure they can be changed programmatically.
4.2.6If using DHTML to change a generated page, ensure any changes can be programmatically determined.