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How to Update Your Web Site from WCAG 1.0 to WCAG 2.0

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This document provides detailed guidance for designers, developers, and project managers updating Web sites from WCAG 1.0 to WCAG 2.0. The good news is that many sites that already meet WCAG 1.0 will require little or no changes to meet WCAG 2.0.

Related WCAG 2.0 material is listed in the navigation area of this page. If you have not worked with WCAG 1.0, see instead Improving the Accessibility of Your Web Site.

Note: What we refer to as "requirements" in this document include the WCAG 1.0 checkpoints and the WCAG 2.0 success criteria.

Accessibility is fundamentally the same

WCAG 2.0 builds on WCAG 1.0. The fundamental issues of Web accessibility are the same, though there are some differences in the approach and requirements between WCAG 1.0 and WCAG 2.0.

The accessibility work that you did for WCAG 1.0 will be useful for meeting WCAG 2.0. Sites that meet WCAG 1.0 will already be a long way to fulfilling WCAG 2.0. In most cases only minimal work will be needed, and sites should not require significant changes in order to meet to WCAG 2.0. Some sites will not need any changes at all. However, it does take some time to understand the different approach in WCAG 2.0.

WCAG 2.0 is compatible with WCAG 1.0 so you can update your Web site to meet both WCAG 1.0 and WCAG 2.0. (However, a site that meets only WCAG 2.0 does not automatically meet WCAG 1.0, because WCAG 2.0 is more flexible in some areas.)

Prioritizing updates

Depending on what work is required to update your site to WCAG 2.0, you might want to update your most important and frequently-used pages soon and make all new pages meet WCAG 2.0, but not retrofit old pages that are not used much. The "Prioritizing the Repairs" section of Improving the Accessibility of Your Web Site has suggestions for choosing what to update first.

Determining your conformance parameters

In order to know which WCAG 2.0 requirements you need to meet, first you need to know your target conformance level: A, AA, or AAA, which are described in the WCAG 2.0 Conformance section and Understanding Conformance.

Your conformance level might be impacted by regulations for your country, region, or type of organization. For example, you may be required to meet Level A and Level AA success criteria. Legal and Policy Factors in Developing a Web Accessibility Business Case for Your Organization and International Policies Relating to Web Accessibility help determine what requirements apply to your Web site.

Determining technologies you will reply upon

Determine which technologies you will rely upon, such as XHTML, CSS, or non-W3C technologies. See Understanding Accessibility Support.

Analyzing how the WCAG 2.0 technical requirements apply to your site

Key resources for learning how WCAG 2.0 technical requirements relate to WCAG 1.0 include:

Two different approaches for determining what changes you need to make to your site to meet WCAG 2.0 are:

Checking WCAG 1.0 checkpoints that relate to WCAG 2.0 requirements

To analyze related requirements, check the following:

Checking new WCAG 2.0 success criteria

WCAG 2.0 success criteria that are not closely related to 1.0 checkpoints are listed at the top of Comparison of WCAG 1.0 Checkpoints to WCAG 2.0. When reviewing new requirements, ask the following:

Updating your Web site

Improving the Accessibility of Your Web Site and Implementation Plan for Web Accessibility provide guidance on updating your Web site for accessibility.

Remember to update your internal Web development templates, styles guides, processes, and such, based on the changes you made when updating your site to WCAG 2.0.

Periodically check if there are new techniques and best practices that you want to incorporate into your internal guidance. The WCAG 2.0 Web standard itself is a stable, referenceable document that will not change once it is completed. However, Understanding WCAG 2.0 and Techniques for WCAG 2.0 are advisory resources that can be updated. As technology develops, they will be enhanced with additional tips, techniques, and best practices.

When these supporting documents are updated, we will announce it on the WAI home page and the WAI Interest Group (IG) mailing list. To get WAI announcements, you can subscribe to the following: