Working together for standards The Web Standards Project


After 9.5 years of work, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 have reached W3C Recommendation status. On behalf of the WaSP Accessibility Task Force, I’d like to welcome WCAG 2 officially into the pantheon of Web standards.

I think this tweet by caledoniaman sums up the level of anticipation:

WCAG 2.0 and a new Guns ‘n’ Roses album in the same year. What’s the world coming to.

Interesting comparison. They’ve each had about as many pre-releases. In any case, I can say, having spent over 8 years with it, that WCAG 2 is not as entertaining as Chinese Democracy. But I do think that it’s better equipped to stand the test of time.

If I had to pick one thing I’m most happy about, I’d say it’s that the HTML- and text-centrism in WCAG 1 is largely gone. In its place is a much more flexible (dare I say robust?) concept of accessibility-supported technology. So when newer technologies can show themselves to be directly accessible, they too can be used in WCAG 2-conformant content.

Over the years, many people have conflated “WCAG-conformant” with “accessible,” and that’s led to people making statements like: “Don’t use JavaScript–it’s inaccessible.” That’s bad for everyone, from users with disabilities who actually can work with JavaScript (which is to say, the vast majority), to Web designers and developers, to policymakers, to those developing new technologies.

With WCAG 2, “Don’t use x” is no longer valid. (Was it ever?) It is now up to you, the developer, to work on the direct accessibility of your content, no matter what technology you choose. I believe we’re about to experience a new wave of accessible design techniques, as a result.

But first, we need to flush “Don’t use x” out of our system. Some are accustomed to saying it about anything they’re not comfortable with. That’s only holding accessible design back. It’s time to learn what’s out there, today, and use it in everyday Web design. It’s time to make everyone’s Web more accessible. Have a look at the WCAG 2.0 Recommendation, and its supporting material. Then, start thinking about what a more accessible Web could be. We still have a lot of work to do.

Your Replies

#1 On December 12th, 2008 4:01 am