Accessibility Standards

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG is recognized as the global standard in accessibility guidelines for digital content and is the basis of WashU’s EIT Accessibility policy.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The W3C is an international community founded to develop web standards.

WCAG is commonly pronounced as wuh-cag.

The guidelines cover a wide range of recommendations for making digital content more accessible. Following WCAG allows content to be more accessible to a wide range of individuals with with visual, auditory, physical or cognitive disabilities. These guidelines will often make digital content more usable to all users in general.

Guidelines are divided into success criteria, written as testable statements that are not technology-specific.


The guidelines are divided into three levels of conformance: A, AA, and AAA. Level A refers to the most essential or minimum level of conformance, Level AAA is the highest or maximum level.

Level AA is selected as the university’s standard because it is the most achievable and meaningful without being too disruptive to design and development processes.


The principles underlying WCAG is divided into four principles:

  • Perceivable – Information and user interface components must be presented to users in ways they can perceive.
  • Operable – User interface components and navigation controls must be operable.
  • Understandable – Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.
  • Robust – Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted by a variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.

WCAG version 2.1 was released by WC3 in June 2018.

Additional guidance

Helpful information, tools and guidance can be found on the WebAIM (Web Accessibility in Mind) site, which is a nonprofit organization founded at Utah State University.