Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 1.0 is an international standard for making sites accessible to people with disabilities. Many nations adhere to WCAG 1.0 as law.
That’s great, except that WCAG 1.0 is seven years old, and parts of it are murkily conceived. The W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) committee has toiled for years to offer a second-generation spec that is clearer and more up-to-date. WCAG 2.0 is the result. It was presented to the web community for comment a few weeks ago and achieves “Candidate Recommendation” status at the end of this month.
Although WCAG 2 has its supporters, and although good people have worked hard on it, Joe Clark believes “the fundamentals of WCAG 2 are nearly impossible for a working standards-compliant developer to understand,” with untestable success criteria and strange new definitions that don’t map to concepts like “page,” “site,” or “valid.”
Because WCAG 1.0 forms the basis of international law and because the standard’s goal is to serve the disabled, the success or failure of WCAG 2 matters to all who use, own, or make websites. Whether you end up agreeing or disagreeing with Joe Clark’s assessment, time is short and the stakes are incredibly high. I urge every web designer to read this article.
Also in this triple issue of A List Apart (and only overshadowed here because the clock on WCAG 2 is ticking) are two other exceptionally fine articles:
- World Grows Small: Open Standards for the Global Web
Molly Holzschlag explains how the practices you already use to create standards-based, accessible websites can serve you in the growing field of internationalization.
- Community Creators, Secure Your Code! Part II