Do you have content, such as a survey, on your website that automatically opens in a popup window? If the answer is yes, it's likely that your website will fail compliance testing.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) define how to make web content as accessible as possible to people with disabilities. And according to WCAG, you should not use popup windows without an explicit alert beforehand.
If you're new to accessibility, you should know that accessibility covers a wide range of disabilities, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, language, learning, and neurological.
WCAG Guideline 3.2.1, which covers website predictability, compares two possible interactive areas of a website says that dropdown menus are better than popups because users don't lose focus as they tab through menus but can get thrown off by popups.
Here's what the WCAG specifically says about dropdown menus: "A dropdown menu on a page allows users to choose between jump destinations. If the person uses the keyboard to move down to a choice and activates it (with a spacebar or enter key) it will jump to a new page. However, if the person moves down to a choice and either hits the escape or the tab key to move out of the pulldown menu – it does not jump to a new screen as the focus shifts out of the dropdown menu."
Compare the success of a dropdown menu to the the following failed scenario of a popup window: "When a field receives focus, a help dialog window describing the field and providing options opens. As a keyboard user tabs through the Web page, the dialog opens, moving the keyboard focus away from the control every time the user attempts to tab past the field."
Since 1995, Mary Gillen has designed and developed Web sites and applications that serve all responsive, 508-compliant, accessible and search engine-optimized. Over the years, she has developed responsive and accessible-compliant Web sites for large corporations, small startups, non-profits, associations, Federal government agencies, and more. Clients include: National Institutes of Health, The World Bank, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Cancer Research Foundation of America, American Pharmacists Association, McKinsey & Company, and many others. Responsive design, search engine optimization, 508-compliant, and WCAG 2.0 standards (from A to AAA) are always applied.