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WAI: Strategies, guidelines, resources to make the Web accessible to people with disabilities


Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is developed through the W3C process in cooperation with individuals and organizations around the world, with a goal of proving a single shared standard for Web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally. WCAG 2.0 is being developed to apply to more advanced Web technologies, and be more precisely testable with a combination of automated testing and human evaluation. WAI develops additional material for people with different levels of accessibility knowledge.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQ) about WCAG 2.0. When we add more information to this page, we'll send an e-mail to the WAI IG list and an update to the WAI Highlights RSS feed to let you know. ~Shawn Henry, W3C WAI, updated 30 April 2008

Where should I start?
What are the different WCAG 2.0 documents?

The best place to start learning about WCAG 2.0 and to get the latest information on WCAG 2.0 is the Overview of WCAG 2.0 Documents. The Overview provides an important foundation for understanding the different WCAG 2.0 documents.

Here's a little more perspective on the different documents. When Web content and Web software developers were using WCAG 1.0, they had many questions on how to implement it, how to evaluate for it, and the reasons behind its requirements. WAI wanted to provide this information with WCAG 2.0, and since those details don't fit well in a technical standard, they are in the supporting documents.

Thus with WCAG 2.0, there are extensive supporting materials, which are advisory documents. The WCAG 2.0 guidelines document itself is the only document intended to be a Web standard, and it is fairly short.

WCAG 2.0 itself is a technical standard designed primarily for Web developers and designers, authoring tool and evaluation tool developers, and others who need a technical standard. WAI plans to provide additional material to help Web developers who are not accessibility experts to develop accessible Web content.

When will WCAG 2.0 be finalized?
What is the current status of WCAG 2.0?

The short answers are:

April 2008 Update: Gathering Implementations for WCAG 2.0

On 30 April 2008, the WCAG Working Group published WCAG 2.0 as a "W3C Candidate Recommendation". This means that the Working Group is satisfied with the technical content, and there is broad support throughout the community.

The purpose of the Candidate Recommendation stage of the W3C Process is to ensure that WCAG 2.0 can be implemented. W3C now encourages Web developers and designers to use WCAG 2.0 in their projects. See WCAG 2.0 Implementations for Candidate Recommendation for information on how you can help test WCAG 2.0 implementation and contribute feedback.

Depending on the duration of the Candidate Recommendation stage, the final draft of WCAG 2.0 (called "Proposed Recommendation") could be available the third quarter of 2008.

W3C Process for community input and consensus development

WCAG is developed under the W3C Process and in order to better understand the short answers above, you need to know a little about the W3C Process. You can get that from How WAI Develops Accessibility Guidelines through the W3C Process.

The W3C Process helps ensure that WCAG 2.0 reflects the diverse needs of a broad community, including industry, disability organizations, accessibility researchers, government, and others interested in Web accessibility. WCAG is developed by the WCAG Working Group, which includes many different perspectives. It takes time for the Working Group to research and discuss issues, and develop consensus on solutions (that is, everyone agreeing or accepting the decision).

Additionally, the public is invited to comment on WCAG drafts, and it takes time to address public comments. The WCAG Working Group has addressed thousands of public comments on WCAG 2.0 Working Drafts, which is not unusual for W3C standards development work.

How is WCAG 2.0 different from WCAG 1.0?
How is it going to impact my Web development?

Most Web sites that conform to WCAG 1.0 should not require significant changes in order to conform to WCAG 2.0. The fundamental issues of Web accessibility are the same, though there are some differences in the requirements between WCAG 1.0 and WCAG 2.0. The different requirements are listed in Comparison of WCAG 1.0 Checkpoints to WCAG 2.0.

WCAG 2.0 is being developed to apply to more advanced Web technologies and be more precisely testable than WCAG 1.0. In order to do this, the WCAG 2.0 documents use a slightly different approach, for example, the WCAG 2.0 Guidelines and Success Criteria are technology-independent and specific guidance is provided in the Techniques.

To learn more, read "How WCAG 2.0 Drafts Differ from WCAG 1.0" in Overview of WCAG 2.0 Documents. WAI is working on additional resources that provide more specific guidance on transitioning your Web sites and Web accessibility policies from WCAG 1.0 to WCAG 2.0.

When should I start using WCAG 2.0?
What are the benefits of using WCAG 2.0?

We encourage you to start using WCAG 2.0 now. Be aware that while the WCAG 2.0 "Candidate Recommendation" published on 30 April 2008 is stable, it may change a little based on implementation experience.

Until WACG 2.0 is finalized, WCAG 1.0 is the completed, referenceable version. If your site is required to meet WCAG 1.0, you may choose to develop it to meet both WCAG 1.0 and WCAG 2.0.

There are many benefits to using WCAG 2.0, even before it is finalized:

After reading the Overview of WCAG 2.0 Documents, the best place to start using WCAG 2.0 is How to Meet WCAG 2.0: A customizable quick reference to WCAG 2.0 requirements (success criteria) and techniques.

Where can I find answers to more of my questions?

First, look through the documents on the W3C WAI Web site, which are listed in the annotated list of WAI Resources.

WAI hosts an Interest Group (WAI IG) mailing list where the community discusses Web accessibility issues. WAI IG provides ideas from different perspectives. If you have a question that might be relevant to the WAI IG list, you can:

WAI staff are actively developing guidelines, technical reports, and supporting material, and generally are not available to answer individual questions. You can send questions to wai@w3.org and we will integrate answers into this page and other documents as we are able.

How can I get updates?

To get notifications when this FAQ is updated, you can subscribe to the WAI Highlights RSS feed. For information about RSS, see About RSS.

The latest version of WCAG 2.0 documents are linked from the Overview of WCAG 2.0 Documents, which we keep up-to-date.

Other recent WAI work is listed on the WAI IG page under "Documents Under Review by WAI IG". When WAI publishes new resources or makes significant updates to existing resources, we: