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Levels A, AA, AAA errors in Siteimprove Accessibility explained

Sean Needham avatar


This article explains how Siteimprove uses the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to prioritize errors within the Accessibility module.

The table below shows you how Siteimprove prioritizes the A, AA, and AAA levels. Level A tasks could relate to ease of website navigation and readability. AA could contain tasks that are more specific such as color contrast ratios and duplicate elements, while AAA turns it up a notch checking for sign language and extended audio descriptions for pre-recorded video and audio content.

WCAG Level issue Category Weight 
A Errors Highest
Warnings Low
AA Errors High
Warnings Low
AAA Errors Medium
Warnings Low

 

This table shows a very simplified interpreted version of WCAG prioritization:

WCAG Level Compliant when Priority

A

All ‘A level’ issues have been fixed and best practices have been applied site-wide.

Highest priority: Essential and preferred standard of Accessibility

AA

All ‘A level + AA level’ issues have been fixed and best practices have been applied site-wide.

High priority: also essential and preferred standard of Accessibility

AAA

All ‘A level + AA level + AAA level’ issues have been fixed and best practices have been applied site-wide.

Medium priority: Highest standard of accessibility, but user needs can be met at Levels A and AA. 

 

Accessibility is a vast and complex topic. Siteimprove makes it more manageable by centralizing all the necessary information and tracking your progress. Rather than being a compliance solution, Siteimprove guides you on which issues to tackle first to gain the best possible outcome.

Breakdown of a guideline

It’s important to understand how a guideline in WCAG is set up and what that means for your website. For example, let's take guideline 1.4 Distinguishable, which is about making it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.  Under each guideline is a set of success criteria to meet the guideline.

  • (Level A) Success Criterion 1.4.1 is about the Use of Color. The rule goes like this: Color is not used as the only visual means of conveying information, indicating an action, prompting a response, or distinguishing a visual element.  An additional style or indicator is needed (underline, icon, etc.).
  • (Level AA) Success Criterion 1.4.3 is about Contrast (Minimum). The rule goes like this: The visual presentation of text and images of text has a contrast ratio of at least 4.5 to 1.
  • (Level AAA) Success Criterion 1.4.6 is about Contrast (Enhanced). And the rule goes like this: The visual presentation of text and images of text has a contrast ratio of at least 7 to 1.

As you can see, level AAA is the most demanding, and level A and AA are those criteria that ensures a user can perceive and understand the content that has color.  Finding a balance between design and accessibility is the key to great inclusive web design.

Siteimprove Accessibility

As mentioned, Siteimprove shows you where to improve your web pages and displays all the criteria in one centralized space. This makes it a powerful solution to a large and complex problem that is web accessibility.

Siteimprove also designed an algorithm to help you prioritize your tasks (the Accessibility score), so you will get the most impact out of your effort.  Read our article on how to gain the most points here: Accessibility score clarification.

It doesn’t matter if you just launched your new website or are improving upon an old one, it is always a good idea to check if your website is up to standard on at least A and AA level. Making your website more accessible also improves your overall traffic and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

We hope this article helped you understand the way Siteimprove works with the WCAG levels and gave you a fresh look at how impactful accessibility improvements are for your website visitors.

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