W3C logo Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Working Draft

Overview of Design Principles

The overall goal is to create Web content that is perceivable, operable and understandable by the broadest possible range of users and compatible with their wide range of assistive technologies, now and in the future. The basic principles include:

  1. Content must be perceivable .

  2. Interface elements in the content must be operable .

  3. Content and controls must be understandable .

  4. Content must be robust enough to work with current and future technologies.

Accessible Web content benefits a variety of people, not just people with disabilities. In the physical world, ramps are used by bicycles, people pushing strollers, and people in wheelchairs. Similarly, accessible Web content is beneficial to a variety of people with and without disabilities. For example, people who are temporarily operating under constrained conditions like operating in a noisy environment where they can not hear well or at all, or driving their car where their eyes are busy would benefit from an accessible site. Likewise, a search engine can find a famous quote in a movie if the movie is captioned.


These principles apply only to Web content presented to a human reader. A structured database or metadata collection where the data is intended for use by another machine, and that requires no interface, lies outside the scope of these guidelines.

User needs

Here are a few scenarios, by no means an exhaustive list of the variations and types of disabilities and needs:

If Web content employs the design principles described in this document, then users should be able to access the content using adaptive strategies and assistive technologies. There are many tools that people with disabilities employ to make use of Web content. For more in-depth scenarios of people with disabilities using accessible and inaccessible Web content, please read " How People with Disabilities Use the Web ".

Designing Accessible Web Content

These guidelines provide the basic requirements for designing accessible Web content. This document is not designed to provide the background needed to learn about accessible Web design in a thorough or effective manner for those interested in learning. Readers are therefore referred to the Education and Outreach Working Group of the Web Accessibility Initiative .