Appendix III. The level of conformance recommendation

According to the WCAG 2.1 guidelines, there are three levels of conformance that a website can meet the needs of different groups and different situations: A (Lowest), AA (Mid-range), and AAA (Highest). Single-A can be considered as the minimum level of requirement for all websites, and AAA can be viewed as the ideal standard level of accessibility for all websites, but there are some issues to reach AAA such as budget issues. As our guidelines focus on reducing help-seeking situations that BVI users encounter in the DL environment, Table 1 presents three levels of conformance recommendation to address different types of help-seeking situations based on our user studies (frequency and portion of situations each user encountered) and existing research: A (Lowest), AA (Mid-range), and AAA (Highest).

Table 1. Levels of Conformance Recommendation

There are three levels of conformance:

Level A is the minimum level.

Level AA includes all Level A and AA requirements. Many organizations strive to meet Level AA.

Level AAA includes all Level A, AA, and AAA requirements.

Level A

Symbol HSS Guideline
C5 Difficulty understanding or using a specific feature 1.   Label a feature and its components reflecting their functions based on user expectations
2.   Explain how to use a feature effectively
3.   Offer assistance in interacting with a feature


Difficulty navigating through a DL 1.   Ensure DL pages have a consistent structure and layout
2.   Enable quick and easy ways to navigate from one point to another within a DL
3.   Label navigational aids in a meaningful way
4.   Provide help regarding how to navigate through a DL



Difficulty locating or accessing information related to visual items 1.   Provide concise and meaningful alternative text for all visual items
2.   Provide transcripts for images of text documents
3.   Provide audio descriptions for video materials
4.   Provide descriptive metadata for each image or video item
5.   Ensure alternative text, transcripts and descriptions for visual items can be easily located
6.   Ensure alternative text, transcripts and descriptions for visual items can be easily accessed
7.   Provide help information regarding alternative text, transcript, or description access


Difficulty understanding results structure or layout 1.   Maintain a simple and consistent logical structure and layout for presenting search results in the DL
2.   Ensure that structural elements of search results have meaningful labels
3.   Explain the structure and layout of search results presented, as well as how to interact with the structural elements
4.   Enable users to control their search results layouts
A1 Difficulty accessing a clickable element 1.   Ensure the labels for all clickable elements are understandable
2.   Ensure active elements are able to be activated via keyboard
3.   Provide instruction on how to access items using a keyboard
4.   Provide a mapping of primary DL functions and designated screen controls to corresponding screen reader commands
E2 Difficulty identifying current location or tracking paths 1.   Maintain hierarchical navigation structures consistently across DL pages
2.   Articulate the current location and paths through a DL
3.   Title each DL page, each section of that page, and landmarks in a meaningful way
4.   Allow the user to return to a previously visited locations in a DL
5.   Label all navigation elements in a meaningful way
F1 Confusion about digital library structure or browse categories 1.   Maintain a logical hierarchical structure for the DL, including page layout, content organization, and browse categories
2.   Ensure that structural elements have meaningful labels
3.   Explain the structure of the DL and its browse categories and how to interact with its structural elements
A5/D6 Difficulty locating or accessing search features 1.   Offer quick and easy paths to relevant search features from prominent locations within a DL page
2.   Offer relevant search functions at logically appropriate locations on a DL page
3.   Ensure every category of search features have similar functions and appearance for large scale DLs or integrated DLs
4.   Label search features and their components in a meaningful way
5.   Ensure search features and their components are accessible to BVI users
A4/D5 Difficulty locating or accessing multimedia controls 1.   Ensure use multimedia players with minimal player controls
2.   Label each multimedia player control in a way that clearly conveys its purpose and function
3.   Ensure all multimedia player controls are efficiently accessible and operable, including keyboard control and compatibility with screen readers
4.   Provide recognizable information about the length and progress of an A/V file playing in a DL
5.   Provide metadata information about multimedia items
6.   Provide instructions and help for accessing audio/video files
E5 Difficulty recognizing current status of a DL 1.   Ensure that page loading status or page update status is recognizable
2.   Reduce page loading time
3.   Explain how to detect a change or update in the status of a DL
A2 Difficulty accessing content of a scanned document 1.   Ensure the full text of a scanned document is readable
2.   Provide essential information for a scanned document with readability issues
D1/E1 Difficulty detecting or locating search results 1.   Clearly label the results section for recognizability
2.   Provide a shortcut to the DL search result list
3.   Notify the user that the query has been processed and results have been generated
4.   Provide guidance on how to recognize whether search results were generated or changed

Level AA

Symbol HSS Guideline or design recommendations
B1 Difficulty assessing relevance of an item 1.    Ensure that the association between query terms/related terms and the search results list/each retrieved item are apparent
2.    Provide descriptive information for each item in the search results
3.    Provide instruction on how to evaluate the relevance of a retrieved item at the search results list level and at the individual document level
4.    Assist users efficiently evaluate search result list and retrieved individual document
H2 Difficulty refining search queries 1.    Explain how to refine the most recent search statement, specifically narrowing or broadening a search statement
2.    Offer assistance in refining a search, particularly narrowing or broadening a search statement
C4 Difficulty understanding how to use a DL 1.    Clearly convey the purpose, functions, structure, and coverage of a DL
2.    Provide instruction to explain how to use a DL
3.    Clearly convey the purpose of each section of a DL
4.    Clearly convey the availability of DL features and their functions
5.    Ensure DL feedback is accessible
D2 Difficulty locating a specific word, phrase, or related term 1.    Enable text searching within the captioning or transcript of a video item
2.    Support text search for related terms
3.    Provide instructions how to perform text search (e.g., a specific word, phrase, and related term) within a DL
4.    Ensure the output of text search is accessible
C2/D7 Difficulty locating or understanding help information 1.    Offer help information relevant to all tasks supported by the DL
2.    Assist users in finding relevant help information
3.    Ensure help information is understandable to users of all ability levels
4.    Explain how to perform various functions of a DL in a meaningful way
C3 Difficulty recognizing or interpreting a label 1.    Label features and elements in the DL to indicate their functions
2.    Label the items in the DL to indicate the nature of documents
3.    Ensure the clarity of the purpose, function, and outcome of using features and elements
4.    Offer assistance in interpreting the meaning of labels whenever necessary.
H1 Difficulty constructing search queries 1.    Explain how to construct a search statement and select search terms for effectively formulating a DL search
2.    Offer assistance during the process of formulating a search statement
3.    Indicate errors as they occur when entering search statements
D3 Difficulty locating metadata 1.    Offer a quick and easy way to find each element of the metadata for an item
2.    Offer a quick and easy way to identify each element of the metadata for an item


Symbol HSS Guideline or design recommendations
E3 Difficulty identifying items that require downloading before viewing 1.    Indicate which items that must be first downloaded in order to be viewed
2.    Provide guidance on how to view items directly from a DL as well as viewing those requiring download
3.    Facilitate display of items that require downloading
I1 Situations related to compatibility issues 1.    Ensure DL maintains accessibility, navigability, and searchability across diverse DL platforms, screen-reader software, Web browser applications, and operating systems
2.    Ensure that DL accessibility across diverse platforms is also maintained over time despite platform updates and modifications
3.    Inform users about the compatibility of browsers, helper applications, and screen-readers to access a DL
4.    Indicate when a user focus moves in or out of a DL
B2 Difficulty assessing format of an item 1.    Ensure the file format of each item in a DL is clearly specified and provided to the user
2.    Provide instruction how to use each file format
E6 Difficulty recognizing pre-existing text in an input box 1.    Ensure that presence of pre-existing text in an input field is announced before the user starts interacting with that field
2.    Avoid “placeholder” text in form fields
3.    Provide instruction related to pre-existing and placeholder text
H3 Difficulty tracking searches 1.    Make search terms from previous queries available on request for reuse and combination
2.    Enable refining of the most recent query
3.    Explain how to monitor the progressions of previously used search terms
C1 Difficulty detecting or using dynamic features and content 1.    Ensure dynamic features and content of a DL are accessible
2.    Ensure accessibility of notifications for changes or updates in features and content
3.    Inform users of the name, function, and state of features
4.    Offer assistance in detecting and using dynamic features and content
5.    Provide instruction on how to detect and use dynamic features and content