How a developer should read WCAG. A humble guide through the standard… | by Daniel Berryhill | Dec, 2023

A humble guide through the standard reference for web accessibility.

A developer at his laptop with a frustrated look.
Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

WCAG isn’t known for its readability.

When I first got into accessibility, I tried reading it. Several naps and coffees later, I gave up. That’s because I was trying to read it like I tried to learn programming languages or markup languages.

And why wouldn’t I? I’m a self-taught developer. If I can learn C on my own, I can certainly tackle accessibility, right?

If you’re a developer trying to dive into the world of web accessibility, or you’re trying to provide more accessible content, you’ll likely go to WCAG hoping it’s like any other tutorial or guide.

Spoiler: It’s not.

It can be a hard read, not because it’s complicated — but because it’s terribly abstract and vague. You have to dig to find examples, and the terminology is just… ugh.

That’s because WCAG is not centered around markup, styles, or scripts — it’s centered around principles. Once you understand that, it become easier.

When I was first learning about web development, I used a book. Do you think I read the first few chapters on the history of the web, how a web server works, and all the other obligatory fluff? Shoot, no!

“Show me how to make all the things!”

So I skipped ahead to the “Make your first web page” section and went from there. If you’re seeking something like that for accessibility, this is for you.

Open the following link in a new tab and let’s get started: WCAG 2.2

On the left navigation section of the page, you’ll find the complete table of contents. Get very acquainted with it — you’ll be using it quite a bit.

Screenshot of the WCAG page.

I would advise against reading the page from start to finish. Instead, I suggest you read the most relevant parts that will serve as a foundation for further…

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