WCAG 2.1 Released; LFLegal.com Part of the Process

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This is a post about updated rules to make websites more accessible to disabled people who use the web. The guidelines are called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1.  Some of the new rules help people with low vision. Others help people with cognitive and learning disabilities. Others expand access for disabled people using mobile devices.  Lainey Feingold’s website helped by showing that web site owners can meet the new guidelines.  This website, LFLegal.com, met the AAA level of WCAG 2.1.  Lainey’s website is developed and maintained by Natalie MacLees who did all the work to make this website meet the new guidelines.  Natalie’s company is called Digitala11y.


computer tab key with wheelchair rider icon

On June 5, 2018 the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) announced a major update to the internationally recognized Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). WCAG 2.1 is the first update to the guidelines since 2008. The Law Office of Lainey Feingold is happy to have played a tiny part in the birth of WCAG 2.1 by updating this site to meet the Triple A (AAA) success criteria of the new standard. Lainey salutes her wonderful WordPress developer, Natalie MacLees of DigitalA11y, who did the work! 

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WCAG 2.1 Helps Make the Digital World More Accessible

WCAG 2.1 is intended to fill in some of the gaps in WCAG 2.0 that have developed in the ten years since it was first adopted. According to the press release announcing the new standard (technically called a W3C Recommendation), WCAG 2.1 “helps Web designers and developers better meet the needs of users with disabilities and older users.”

As always, the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has put out significant resources to assist people and organizations in implementing the new guidelines. Particularly helpful to me is “What’s New in WCAG 2.1

This resource includes links to each new success criteria with a link to more resources about each criteria. It also has easy to understand examples, told through personas of people with disabilities, of the problem each criteria is designed to address, and how it helps a disabled person.

These resources were developed by the WAI Education and Outreach Working Group, the same team behind the revised WAI website.

WCAG 2.0 Still Valid

The Working Group responsible for the new guidelines wisely made sure that WCAG 2.0 remains a stable and current standard, even as it was expanded upon and improved in the 2.1 release. This is something I very much appreciate as a lawyer, because WCAG 2.0 has been incorporated in laws, policies, court decisions, and legal settlements around the world. As the W3C states in the WCAG 2.1 press release:

The Working Group has taken care to maintain backwards compatibility with the internationally-recognized WCAG 2.0, in that websites that conform to WCAG 2.1 will also conform to WCAG 2.0, which remains a W3C Recommendation.WCAG 2.1 press release

In other words, current obligations to meet WCAG 2.0 success criteria are unaffected by the issuance of WCAG 2.1, while at the same time organizations and policy makers should look to the new criteria to expand their accessibility commitment and make their content available to a wider range of users.

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LFLegal.com in the WCAG 2.1 Implementation Report

For a W3C accessibility standard to be published, websites at each level — A, AA, and AAA — must be developed to the new standard and rigorously tested to ensure the new success criteria are met.

This website (LFLegal.com), was submitted (by me) as a site that could meet WCAG 2.1 AAA. After rigorous testing, it was deemed to have met the standard. Congratulations to the two other websites meeting AAA Success Criteria as part of the 2.1 implementation process:

You can read more about the sites that brought WCAG 2.1 to the finish line in the WCAG 2.1 implementation report. You can also read details about this website’s involvement:

Being in the WCAG 2.1 implementation report was a little bit of a deja vu for me. In 2008 my website was part of the implementation report for WCAG 2.0 as it replaced WCAG 1.0. At that time, my site was one of two that satisfied the AAA success criteria of the new standard. Read the post about this website and WCAG 2.0 implementation.

And the new standard brought me back to when I first learned about WCAG 1.0. I was first exposed to the need for accessible websites by our clients in the mid-1990’s during the Talking ATM negotiations with Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citibank. Online banking was new, but the need for accessibility was clear to the blind banking customers Linda Dardarian and I were representing. Their knowledge and advocacy led to early web access work, as I described in my book:

Our March 2000 settlement with Bank of America was the first legal agreement in the United States in which a company agreed to make its web presence available to everyone, and the first to reference WCAG 1.0. Buried seven paragraphs into our Talking ATM-focused press release, was the statement that Bank of America “will also take steps to ensure that its website and online banking services are accessible to blind persons whose home computers use screen readers to audibly read text on a computer screen.” Structured Negotiation, A Winning Alternative to Lawsuits, p. 122

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Every Website Needs a Developer Like Purple Pen Productions

When I needed a new website in 2016, my friend and accessibility champion Joseph O’Connor told me he had just the person. He introduced me to Natalie MacLees of Purple Pen Productions and I haven’t looked back.

Natalie built this website that launched in March, 2016 as a WCAG 2.0 AAA site. She has maintained it ever since. When I decided to upgrade the site to meet WCAG 2.1 AAA I knew Natalie was up to the task. She did not disappoint. Everyone should be so lucky as to have a skilled developer who knows accessibility and is lovely to work with like Natalie MacLees.

Here are Natalie’s thoughts on WCAG 2.1 and doing the work on this site:

WCAG 2.1 fills in some important gaps that were left by 2.0, making websites even easier to use, no matter what device someone is using or what abilities they may have. The web was always intended to be a platform for all, so this is a great step forward in realizing that vision. I believe that everyone deserves access to everything the web has to offer, so I think it’s important to build websites with accessibility in mind. It was an honor to be part of bringing 2.1 to life and helping to work out the details of implementing these new guidelines. Natalie MacLees, principle, Purple Pen Productions

Thank you Natalie and Purple Pen Productions!

Thank you to the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group

The Law Office of Lainey Feingold expresses its deep gratitude to everyone who brought WCAG 2.1 to life. It simply would not have happened without countless hours put in by the members of the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group. Particular thanks to Andrew Kirkpatrick, one of the WCAG 2.1 editors who was particularly helpful to me as Natalie worked on this project.

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