On December 11, 2008, the World Wide Web Consortium announced new standards for accessible web content. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 were finalized after years of development and input from web designers, site owners, members of the disability community, WAI staff and volunteers, and countless others with a commitment to making the internet available to all users. Resources about the revised guidelines are provided at the end of this post.
The new guidelines supersede WCAG 1.0, the international standard that has been in effect since 1999. WCAG 1.0 was the standard used in many web accessibility settlement agreements reached using the Structured Negotiations process. According to the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), WCAG 2.0, as compared to its predecessor, “applies broadly to more advanced technologies; is easier to use and understand; and is more precisely testable with automated testing and human evaluation.”
As part of the adoption process, the new guidelines had to be “road tested” on live web sites, and a report on the test results was issued by the Web Accessibility Initative in October, 2008. The website of the Law Office of Lainey Feingold was one of only two sites included in the report to meet the AAA conformance level of WCAG 2.0. Read the earlier post about the Web Accessibility Implementation Report
Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, is often quoted as saying “the power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.” With the final adoption of WCAG 2.0 we are all that much closer to making this statement a reality.
Resources for understanding WCAG 2.0
- The finalized WCAG 2.0 includes principles of accessibility and related guidelines, success criteria and techniques for achieving accessibility. A Overview of WCAG 2.0 is also available.
- WAI Outreach Coordinator Shawn Henry has written a Web Accessibility Initiative WCAG 2.0 Blog Post with many useful links about the new guidelines and the adoption process.
- WAI has provided detailed information on the differences between WCAG 1.0 and 2.0 and tips for transitioning to the new standards.
- The official WAI Press Release announcing WCAG 2.0 also contains links to helpful information about the new guidelines.
- The WAI “Customizable Quick Reference” on how to meet WCAG 2.0 allows users to get focused information about the new standards.