Accessibility Guidelines Working Group Charter

The mission of the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AG WG) is to develop specifications to make content on the Web accessible for people with disabilities and to participate in the development and maintenance of implementation support materials for the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

Join the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group.

Start date 27 January 2017
End date 31 December 2019
Chairs Alastair Campbell, Andrew Kirkpatrick
Team Contacts Michael Cooper (0.45 FTE)
Shadi Abou-Zahra (0.3 FTE)
Shawn Lawton Henry (0.05 FTE)
TBD (.3 FTE)
Meeting Schedule Teleconferences: Weekly
Face-to-face: we will meet during the W3C's annual Technical Plenary week; additional face-to-face meetings may be scheduled by consent of the participants, no more than 3 per year.


The Accessibility Guidelines Working Group is being chartered as an early update to the existing Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group charter. As indicated in the current charter, the Working Group has been developing extensions to address gaps in WCAG 2.0. While it has proved useful to be developing proposals for new criteria in focused task forces, following additional discussion in the WCAG WG and W3C member company and public feedback, we believe that it will be more beneficial to develop these as a combined recommendation in Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 rather than as separate extensions. Specifically, the group has received feedback that the existence of multiple separate recommendations (as extensions) risks deharmonization of global accessibility guideline use and increases the likelihood of conflicts between specifications due to the recommendations not being developed together. As a result, the Working Group is now seeking to recharter in order to produce a WCAG 2.1 Recommendation.

The WCAG 2.1 recommendation will address gaps in WCAG 2.0 related to content and will incorporate updated Success Criteria to address content viewed on small display sizes and used with touch and stylus-based input modalities - features particularly common for mobile devices. WCAG 2.1 will also incorporate updated Success Criteria related to content and digital publications accessed by people with low-vision and with cognitive disabilities. The Working Group has conducted research and initial development for these topics in task forces and expects to reach FPWD in February 2017.

The WCAG 2.1 update will be an incremental update to WCAG 2.0 rather than a major revision. WCAG 2.1 is designed to build on the WCAG 2.0 recommendation to ensure testability and technology independence, and will also ensure backward compatibility with WCAG 2.0. As with WCAG 2.0 in the past, the Working Group will periodically conduct reviews and provide feedback on WCAG 2.1 support materials created by other groups to help ensure that resources reflect the intent of the recommendation.

The Working Group intends to produce updated guidance for accessibility on a regular interval, starting with WCAG 2.1. Depending on the outcome of the requirements development for the next major update to WCAG, it may be necessary to pursue further dot-releases of WCAG until a major release is ready to be completed in time for a scheduled release date.

Improving support for testing WCAG is an important priority for the Working Group. The AG WG has an Accessibility Conformance Testing (ACT) Task Force which is developing a framework and repository of test rules to promote a unified interpretation of WCAG among different web accessibility test tools. The proposed recommendation-track framework will be generic enough to meet the needs of WCAG 2.0 but not exclude other standards, including WCAG 2.1. The framework will also allow the development of custom test rules to meet company requirements and best practices. This includes test rules for fully automated and semi-automated conformance testing in different web technologies, such as HTML, CSS, and WAI-ARIA. While this framework will add a layer of implemention for tool developers, it provides more consistency and comparability of the resulting test rules.

In addition to WCAG 2.1, and as a result of the research conducted in the various task forces and the experiences working with WCAG 2.0 for several years, a substantial evolution of WCAG is also needed to account for the complex interdependencies of content and user agent capabilities and to improve the usability of the specification.This incubation work is lower priority than the primary deliverable (WCAG 2.1). The requirements for the next major version will be defined in parallel with (and are substantially informed by) the development of WCAG 2.1.


The group will:

Out of Scope

The following features are out of scope, and will not be addressed by this Working group.

  • The AG WG is not required to be the central repository for accessibility support data.
  • The AG WG does not perform conformance evaluations and reviews.

Success Criteria

The group will be considered successful if it produces stable versions of specifications addressing the work items listed in the Milestones section, with normative conformance requirements for implementation.


A detailed plan to achieve these milestones along with updates to the timeline is documented in the AG WG Project Management Plan.

Normative Specifications

The Working Group will deliver the following W3C normative specifications:

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1

This specification defines updated guidelines to make web content accessible to people with disabilities, updating WCAG 2.0 with additional guidance to better address needs for users with low vision and cognitive disabilities, and users of touch and mobile interfaces.

Accessibility Conformance Testing Framework (ACTF) 1.0

This specification defines the format, logic, and implementation of accessibility test rules.

Other Deliverables

Other non-normative documents may be created such as:

  • Working Group Notes to support understanding and interpretation of other deliverables as the need arises (Note)
  • Semi-annual updates of Understanding WCAG 2.0, to be published as a W3C Working Group Note or as a curated resource of the Working Group (Note)
  • Semi-annual updates of Understanding WCAG 2.1, to be published as a W3C Working Group Note or as a curated resource of the Working Group (Note)
  • Semi-annual updates of Techniques for WCAG 2, to be published as a W3C Working Group Note or as a curated resource of the Working Group (Note). The Techniques note will be a resource that covers WCAG 2.0 and 2.1 together, unlike the Understanding notes, which are separate documents for WCAG 2.0 and 2.1.
  • Requirements for Accessibility Guidelines 3.0 (Note).
  • Working Group Notes supporting the Accessibility Conformance Testing Framework 1.0, such as the Benchmarking Method (Note)
  • Errata for WCAG 2.1.


  • February 2017: FPWD for WCAG 2.1
  • January 2018: CR for WCAG 2.1
  • January 2018: FPWD for ACTF 1.0
  • June 2018: WCAG 2.1 Recommendation
  • August 2018: Requirements for Accessibility Guidelines 3.0 (Note)
  • October 2018: CR for ACTF 1.0
  • October 2019: ACTF 1.0 Recommendation


For all specifications, this Working Group will seek horizontal review for accessibility, internationalization, performance, privacy, and security with the relevant Working and Interest Groups, and with the TAG. Invitation for review must be issued during each major recommendation-track document transition, including FPWD and CR, and should be issued when major changes occur in a specification.

Additional technical coordination with the following Groups will be made, per the W3C Process Document:

W3C Groups

Accessible Platform Architectures Working Group
Provide input into other W3C groups on accessibility requirements.
ARIA Working Group
Review and help develop WCAG 2.0 Techniques for WAI-ARIA.
Cascading Style Sheets Working Group
Advise on WCAG conformance interpretations of CSS features.
Digital Publishing Interest Group
Coordinate on accessibility guidelines that impact digital publishing.
Education and Outreach Working Group
Coordinate on making WCAG 2.0 usable by a wider audience, on developing or reviewing strategies and materials to increase awareness and to educate Web community about WCAG 2.0, ensure WCAG 2.0 uses terms from WAI Glossary properly.
Internationalization Activity
Ensure that references to internationalization techniques are correct, and to ensure that language can be translated successfully.
Mobile Web Initiative
Explore relationship between Mobile Web best practices and WCAG 2.0, and applicability of WCAG 2.0 to content displayed on mobile devices.
WAI Interest Group
Provide input on group deliverables and explore ideas for consideration and further development.
Web Platform Working Group
Send deliverables for review.

External Organizations

This section is a non-exclusive list of organizations that may take up WAI guidelines into policies. The Working Group seeks to develop standards that can be incorporated into policies globally and expects to accomplish this through broad review and involvement. AG WG will liaise with these organizations at key stages but recommends direct participation in the Working Group where possible.

U.S. Access Board
Review of specification
European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI)
Establish liaison with the ETSI Human Factors Technical Committee for collaboration and specification review.
European Committee for Standardization (CEN)
Review of specification
European Commission
Review of specification
National Information Society Agency (NIA)
Review of specification
RERC for the Advancement of Cognitive Technologies
Review of specification
RERC on Universal Interface and Information Technology Access
Review of specification
Chinese Disabled People's Federation (CDPF)
Review of specification
Japanese Industry Standards Organization (JIS)
Review of specification


To be successful, this Working Group is expected to have 15 or more active participants for its duration, including representatives from the key implementers of this specification, and active Editors and Test Leads for each specification. The Chairs, specification Editors, and Test Leads are expected to contribute four hours per week towards the Working Group. There is no minimum requirement for other Participants.

Key implementers of WCAG (desktop and non-desktop environments) include Web content developers (page authors, site designers, etc.), Web authoring tool developers, Web accessibility evaluation tool developers, user agent tool developers, and people with disabilities.

The group encourages questions, comments and issues on its public mailing lists and document repositories, as described in Communication.

The group also welcomes non-Members to contribute technical submissions for consideration upon their agreement to the terms of the W3C Patent Policy.


Technical discussions for this Working Group are public: the meeting minutes from teleconference and face-to-face meetings will be archived for public review, and technical discussions and issue tracking will be conducted in a manner that can be both read and written to by the general public. Working Drafts and Editor's Drafts of specifications will be developed on a public repository, and may permit direct public contribution requests. The meetings themselves are not open to public participation, however.

Information about the group (including details about deliverables, issues, actions, status, participants, and meetings) will be available from the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group home page.

Most Working Group teleconferences will focus on discussion of particular specifications, and will be conducted on an as-needed basis.

This group primarily conducts its technical work on the public mailing list (archive) or on GitHub issues. The public is invited to review, discuss and contribute to this work.

The group may use a Member-confidential mailing list for administrative purposes and, at the discretion of the Chairs and members of the group, for member-only discussions in special cases when a participant requests such a discussion.

Decision Policy

At charter time, the decision policy is under review within the group in order to develop a decision process that supports greater asynchronous participation and minimizes dependence on weekly teleconferences. Until completed, the Working Group decision policy is as explained in Process Document section 3.3 of the W3C Process Document.

The Working Group maintains specific procedures to establish and measure consensus and address objections in the AG Working Group Decision Policy.

Patent Policy

This Working Group operates under the W3C Patent Policy (5 February 2004 Version). To promote the widest adoption of Web standards, W3C seeks to issue Recommendations that can be implemented, according to this policy, on a Royalty-Free basis. For more information about disclosure obligations for this group, please see the W3C Patent Policy Implementation.


This Working Group will use the W3C Document license for all its deliverables.

About this Charter

This charter has been created according to section 5.2 of the Process Document. In the event of a conflict between this document or the provisions of any charter and the W3C Process, the W3C Process shall take precedence.

Charter History

The following table lists details of all changes from the initial charter, per the W3C Process Document (section 5.2.3):

Charter Period Start Date End Date Changes
Initial Charter 6 October 1997 <not set> Develop Understanding Web Access Issues, later named Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0; document supporting quicklists.
Rechartered 2001 18 June 2001 May 2002, extended to June 2004 Add WCAG 2.0 and supporting techniques to its deliverables.
Rechartered 2005 1 January 2005 31 December 2006; extended to 30 April 2007, 31 December 2007, 30 June 2008, 31 December 2008, 30 June 2009, 9 August 2009 Incorporation of Quality Assurance (QA) Framework into its mission; updated descriptions of supporting deliverables for WCAG 2.0, especially including test suites and implementation reports; updated dependency statements; updated language where necessary to align with June 2003 W3C Process Document.
Rechartered 2010 14 September 2010 30 June 2013; extended to 30 September 2013, 18 May 2015, 15 July 2015, and 24 September 2015 Transitioned to maintain support resources for WCAG 2.0.
Rechartered 2015 24 September 2015 31 July 2018 Added recommendation-track work in the form of extensions to WCAG 2.0; increased focus on work to address needs related to mobile devices, cognitive impairments and learning disabilities,digital learning materials, and low vision; more work on accessibility support documentation and testing.
Rechartered 2017 27 January 2017 31 October 2019, extended to 31 December 2019

Changing from publishing normative extensions for multiple topics to a consolidated WCAG 2.1 and adding new publication for Accessibility Conformance Testing Framework 1.0.