A New Era for Web Accessibility: WCAG 2.0 is Finalized

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WCAG 2.0 was published today as a final Web Standard "W3C Recommendation". Check out the official announcement, e-mail, press release, testimonials, and a personal reflection on WCAG. Here are some additional perspectives on a few points.

WCAG 2.0 is a significant improvement. It's better for website creators, it's better for people with disabilities, and many others, too. WCAG 2.0 met its goals: to apply to more advanced technologies; to be more precisely testable (with automated testing and human evaluation); and to be easier to use and understand.

WCAG 2.0 is designed to be a stable standard that is broadly applicable (including to non-W3C technologies), and to have along with it supporting documents that provide detailed guidance, explanations, and examples. These supporting documents will be updated periodically so we can incorporate new techniques, technologies, and best practices.

This WCAG 2.0 publication also comes with real-world examples of every requirement (success criteria). Gathering this "implementation experience" is now part of the W3C Process.

Developers and designers will find WCAG 2.0 more flexible than 1.0. For example, scripting is not forbidden and is even included as techniques to enhance accessibility. And where WCAG 1.0 essentially did not allow flashing or other movement, WCAG 2.0 allows it within defined parameters that won't cause seizures.

WCAG 2.0 also defines better accessibility for people with disabilities (and thus more benefits to others as well, including older users). For example, it has new requirements related to informing users of data entry errors. With the advisory techniques it offers suggestions such as improving accessibility for people with cognitive/intellectual disabilities.

WAI and the WCAG Working Group actively worked with organizations around the world towards "harmonization"; that is, one shared international standard for web content accessibility, rather than different ones in different countries. And there are already plans for Authorized Translations of WCAG 2.0 in several languages.

WCAG was developed through the contributions of hundreds of people representing a wide range of interests and experiences. Thanks to careful review and comments from around the world, including from disability organizations, and the dedication of the WCAG Working Group, WCAG 2.0 improved with each Working Draft to become the mature standard published today.

Many individuals and organizations are endorsing WCAG 2.0. Will you add your voice to those supporting WCAG 2.0 and help spread the good news?

Over the next few weeks and months, we'll be providing additional material, such as presentations slides and policy transition support. We look forward to your suggestions for how we can make WCAG 2.0 materials easier to use. You can send your comments to a publicly-archived list or to a WAI internal-only list; or participate in discussions on the WAI Interest Group e-mail list.

— Shawn Henry for W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)

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