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The WCAG-Test

The WCAG-Test is a method for checking the accessibility of web pages based on the international Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. The WCAG-Test complements the BITV-Test. It was developed during the project 'BIK für Alle' and released in December 2017.

The WCAG are issued by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). They are the internationally recognised standard for accessible web design. WCAG recommendations have been legally enshrined in many countries. In Germany, the Barrierefreie-Informationstechnik-Verordnung (BITV) 2.0 implements these recommendations. In addition, WCAG has been adopted as ISO standard (ISO/IEC 40500:2012) and has been transposed to become part of the European standard EN 301 549 (Section 9 Web).

A test procedure - different evaluations

Since the German BITV is based on WCAG, it was possible to use a joint test procedure for both BITV- and WCAG-Test.

·         The BITV-Test covers Priority 1 of the BITV 2.0 ordinance. Priority 1 includes all WCAG 2.0 Level AA success criteria plus ‘2.4.8 Location’, which is on Level AAA of WCAG 2.0.

·         The WCAG-Test covers all requirements of the internationally accepted conformity level AA of WCAG 2.0.

In both test procedures, the checkpoints are the same (with the exception of 2.4.8 Location), but there are differences in the rating approach. While the BITV-Test is based on a graded rating scheme that in each checkpoint identifies the accessibility of content on a five point scale, the WCAG-Test applies a pass/fail scheme. According to WCAG, all success criteria for a web page must be met for the page to conform to WCAG.

The examination itself is carried out in the same way in the BITV- and WCAG-Test: In each checkpoint, content is assessed by the evaluator and rated according to one of five alternatives (pass, near pass, partial pass, near fail and fail). Comments are added to explain deficiencies and recommend alternative solutions.

The BITV-Test uses the graded scores to calculate an overall score, both per page and for the entire page sample. In contrast, the WCAG-Test represents results only in terms of pass or fail. For each page, checkpoints that were rated ‘pass’ or ‘near pass’ according to BITV test’s graded rating scheme are therefore automatically mapped to WCAG ‘pass’, while all checkpoints that were rated ‘partial pass’ or worse are mapped to WCAG ‘fail’.

WCAG Compliance

The resulting WCAG-Test report shows for each page tested which success criteria are met and which aren’t. A page conforms to WCAG only if all success criteria are met. According to WCAG, conformity can only be claimed for individual pages.

Nevertheless, the BIK WCAG-Test provides information about the accessibility of the entire website. The approach is based on the
Accessibility Conformance Evaluation Methodology (WCAG-EM) 1.0 which has developed a test procedure for websites. A representative sample of pages is tested with the aim to cover the various barriers that might be found on the website. In order to conform to WCAG, the WCAG conformance requirements must also be met. The test procedure ensures this by including some requirements (such as requirement 2 ‘Full pages’ and 3 ‘Complete Processes’) in its process, and, following an initial check of the site to be tested, by not admitting to the test sites that fail to meet conformance requirements 4 (‘Only Accessibility-Supported Ways of Using Technologies’) or 5 (‘Non-Interference’).

The results of the BIK WCAG-Test can be used for a declaration of conformity of individual pages or for the production of an accessibility statement according to the Directive (EU) 2016/2102 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 2016 on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies.