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Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Overview

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Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) documents explain how to make Web content accessible to people with disabilities. Web "content" generally refers to the information in a Web page or Web application, including text, images, forms, sounds, and such. (More specific definitions are available in the WCAG documents.)

WCAG is part of a series of accessibility guidelines, including the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) and the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG). Interdependent Components of Web Accessibility explains the relationship between the different guidelines.

Who WCAG is for

The WCAG technical specifications are primarily intended for:

WCAG and supporting documents are also intended to meet the needs of many different audiences, including policy makers, managers, and others. Supporting documents are listed under WCAG 1.0 resources on this page, and other resoures are listed on the WAI Guidelines and Resources page.

What is in WCAG 1.0

WCAG 1.0 has 14 guidelines that are general principles of accessible design. Each guideline has one or more checkpoints that explain how the guideline applies in a specific area. The How the Guidelines are Organized section of WCAG 1.0 lists the format of guidelines and checkpoints.

Each checkpoint is assigned a priority, explained in the Priorities section of WCAG 1.0.

Under each checkpoint is Techniques link that goes to the section within the Techniques for WCAG 1.0 Gateway document that links to relevant techniques in:

The Core Techniques, CSS Techniques, and HTML Techniques provide implementation guidance, including explanations, strategies, and detailed markup examples. The techniques documents are organized by topic; for example, HTML Techniques includes sections on forms, images, lists, links, tables, etc.

For more information see:

Technical document format

WCAG 1.0, the techniques documents, and the checklist follow the W3C format for technical specifications which includes at the beginning: version links, editors, copyright, abstract, and status with the link to errata and the email address for comments. Most WAI specifications have a link at the top to the Table of Contents.

WCAG Versions: 1.0 and 2.0

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 was approved in May 1999 and is the stable and referenceable version.

WCAG 2.0 is being developed to apply to different Web technologies and to be easier to use and understand, as documented in Requirements for WCAG 2.0. WAI anticipates WCAG 2.0 may be completed in the first half of 2005. Because of the nature of the W3C specification development process, WAI cannot be certain when the final version of WCAG 2.0 will be available. Therefore, WCAG 1.0 will remain the latest approved version at least into the beginning of 2005.

Introduction to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Working Draft Documents explains and links to WCAG 2.0 Working Draft documents.

Who develops WCAG

WCAG technical documents are developed by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (WCAG WG), which is part of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). For more information about the working group, see the WCAG WG page.

The W3C specification development process includes formal periods for public review. Opportunities for review and comment of WAI documents are announced on the WAI home page and WAI Interest Group mailing list. An email address for sending comments is included in the "Status of this Document" section. To be added to a WCAG reviewer list of people who want to get direct notification of WCAG documents for review, contact the WCAG WG Team Contact.

Opportunities for contributing to WCAG and other WAI work are introduced in Participating in WAI.