Today W3C WAI published Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. This is a momentous occasion. Another post links to the official announcements. Here is another perspective, my personal perspective.
I got into accessibility about 12 years ago out of personal necessity, after I began to have visual and physical problems making it difficult to use computers. First I learned about software and hardware barriers and solutions (largely from Gregg Vanderheiden and others at The Trace R&D Center). At the time I was consulting on software user interface design and began to integrate accessibility into my work. After a while I started getting questions about web accessibility issues. It’s then I found WCAG 1.0.
I was grateful for WCAG 1.0. There were so many issues and best practices that would have taken me years to learn about, and here was WCAG, full of the collected, distilled knowledge and experience of many. With this resource, I was able to quickly learn about Web accessibility issues and help designers and developers make their websites more accessible.
As I got more into it, I wanted more explanation on certain points; I was in situations where we needed clearer specifications; and we needed accessibility solutions for new Web interaction and technologies. (Thanks to Wendy Chisholm for her help in those days!)
I’ve heard these and other issues with WCAG 1.0 in my last 6 years as the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) outreach coordinator. At the same time, I’ve had the opportunity to witness the time and dedication of many people working hard to address these issues in creating WCAG 2.0. I know the challenges of bringing together a wide range of perspectives from around the world and developing consensus amongst sometimes conflicting motivations. I’ve also seen the benefits of WCAG applied well.
WCAG 2.0 has succeeded in addressing these issues and meeting its goals to provide an updated web standard that defines accessibility for websites and web applications to meet the needs of people with disabilities.
The publication of WCAG 2.0 as a final Web Standard is particularly significant for me as a person who relies on the Web to be accessible, and as an accessibility evangelist who appreciates the day-to-day issues of designers and developers.
Now I hope that people will get behind WCAG 2.0, support it and adopt it. Over the last few years the community vetted and critiqued WCAG 2.0 drafts, and that resulted in vast improvements. Now WCAG 2.0 is done; it’s time to move on (and shift that attention to related work on the WCAG 2.0 supporting technical material and educational material, exciting developments with WAI-ARIA for accessible rich web applications, and the importance of authoring tool accessibility).
Let’s work together as a community to make WCAG 2.0 a unifying force for web accessibility. There are so many websites and exciting new web applications being created today with accessibility barriers that make it difficult or impossible for some people with disabilities to use them. Let’s change that, with WCAG 2.0.
I want to thank all who contributed to developing WCAG 2.0, and all who are working to make their websites usable by people with disabilities.