THE WEB CONTENT ACCESSIBILITY GUIDELINES (WCAG)- THE LEADING SOURCE FOR COMPLIANCE SINCE 1999
Establishing the initial framework for web accessibility, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 1.0 was introduced on May 5, 1999. Two decades later, WCAG version 2.1 is the recognized international standard for web accessibility. According to Mark Shapiro, President of the Bureau of Internet Accessibility, “Rarely does a single document have such a direct impact on people’s lives, but the guidance that WCAG provides allows developers and content creators to include people who have historically been excluded from digital experiences.”
What exactly is the WCAG and why is it important?
THE WCAG IS A SET OF STANDARDS
The WCAG outlines specific guidelines to ensure people with disabilities have advances in digital and web-based technology, the exponential growth of mobile platforms, and the continually changing trends in web design and development. The WCAG, now in its third version, is published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) and collaborates with leading experts in the global accessibility community via the W3C Process.
THE WCAG IS THE INTERNATIONAL STANDARD FOR WEBSITE COMPLIANCE
WCAG is a specific and technical framework for new and existing web and mobile platforms to ensure they are accessible to individuals with disabilities. The four guiding principles state that web content must be perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. The WCAG is considered the international standard of compliance by web content creators, authoring and test tool developers, and accessibility testers who rely on its specific methods, techniques and minimum accessibility checkpoints for the creation and remediation of websites and apps.
3 MAJOR WCAG MILESTONES:
• May 5, 1999: WCAG 1.0 establishes 14 guidelines with supporting checkpoints. The guidelines highlight diverse compliance needs, including text equivalents and the need for clarity and simplicity on the web.
• December 11, 2008: WCAG 2.0 responds to the remarkable advances intechnology of the early 2000s. Targeting all digital media including documents and apps, WCAG 2.0 introduces four guiding principles of accessibility and establishes success criteria to ensure content is perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. Comprehensive and actionable, WCAG 2.0 becomes the international standard for web accessibility.
• June 5, 2018: WCAG 2.1 enhances rather than replaces WCAG 2.0 and is highly anticipated after a decade of tremendous growth in technology and web advancements. WCAG 2.1 establishes success criteria for heightened web accessibility on mobile devices and for individuals with low vision and cognitive disabilities. With backwards compatibility, WCAG 2.1 ensures WCAG 2.0 compliance when adhering to its standards.