Accessibility: Review of 2017 and Outlook for 2018

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video on web accessibility standards and benefits

2017 was another busy year for the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). This includes developments in the technical and educational areas of WAI, as well as in international standards coordination and harmonization. Much of the results are expected to become more visible and tangible this year, in 2018.

WCAG 2.1

The Accessibility Guidelines Working Group has been working on an extremely tight schedule to make improvements to the internationally recognized Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Among other things, WCAG 2.1 addresses more accessibility requirements for people with cognitive and learning disabilities, people with low vision, and for mobile accessibility. On 30 January 2018 WCAG 2.1 entered Candidate Recommendation (CR). It is scheduled for completion as a W3C Recommendation by June 2018. The working group welcomes implementations of WCAG 2.1 CR during this phase. If you are interested, get in touch with


On 14 December 2017 the Accessible Rich Internet Applications Working Group published Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) 1.1 as a completed W3C Recommendation. WAI-ARIA defines roles and properties to make web applications and rich web content more accessible. The group continues to work, or spawn work in other groups, on accessibility API mappings for several technologies including WAI-ARIA, HTML, Graphics and SVG, Digital Publishing, and CSS. Also the WAI-ARIA Authoring Practices 1.1 was published as a Working Group Note, to provide implementation guidance.

Conformance Testing

The Accessibility Conformance Testing Task Force of the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group has been refining the Accessibility Conformance Testing (ACT) Rules Format 1.0, and applying it to ACT Rules initially developed by the Auto-WCAG Community Group. ACT provides transparently documented ways for testing web content, to improve reliability and common interpretation. The ACT Rules Format is scheduled to complete its Candidate Recommendation (CR) stage in 2018, to allow open contribution of ACT Rules by different entities.

Education and Outreach

The Education and Outreach Working Group has been focusing on updating and revising resources in coordination with a complete redesign of the WAI website. This includes revising the content of Introduction to Web Accessibility and Easy Checks - A First Review of Web Accessibility, and the content and functionality of Web Accessibility Laws and Policies. W3C also published a 4-minute introductory video based on the existing Web Accessibility Perspectives videos.

Horizontal Review

The Accessible Platform Architectures Working Group has continued to look at every formally published W3C specification for accessibility, and to comment where relevant. It has active efforts to support accessibility strategy for CSS and Payments, and brings longer-term questions to the Research Questions Task Force which is exploring authentication, personalization, CAPTCHA, virtual reality, automotive, and internet of things.

Standards Harmonization

W3C Staff have been involved in activities to support international coordination and harmonization of web accessibility standards. In Europe, EC Mandate 554 defines updating of the standard EN 301 549 with continued alignment with W3C specifications, such as WCAG 2.1. In China the national standard for web accessibility is being revised, with opportunities for increased alignment.

Outlook for 2018

Besides many other activities, some of the main highlights in W3C accessibility for 2018 include:

  • Completion of WCAG 2.1 will be an important and much awaited step forward in web accessibility.
  • Setting goals for future guidelines considering the explorations of the Silver Task Force and the potential need for a WCAG 2.2.
  • Completion of the WAI site redesign will support the web community by making the resources from WAI easier to find and use.
  • Commencing work on WAI-ARIA 1.2 which will primarily incorporate semantics from HTML 5 to support accessibility automation.
  • Continued horizontal review with continually expanding list of technology areas, for active strategic tracking of specifications.
  • Increased harmonization of web accessibility standards, particularly in Europe where the uptake of WCAG 2.1 is underway.

Get Involved — we look forward to your contributions and active participation in these and other priorities, to help make the Web more accessible.

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