The new WCAG 2.0 guidelines published on 11 December 2008 is a long and chunky document. By definition, a guideline offers suggestions rather than rules. Following the guideline isn’t mandatory, but I am more than willing to show an interest in any document which aims to improve Web accessibility.
The document attempts to provide synergistic “layers of guidance” through 4 principles, 12 guidelines, success criteria ( to correspond with each guideline) and various ” sufficient” and “advisory” techniques. The guidelines in the document is ‘ to a subsections of the principles and the success criteria are subsections of the guidelines. In summary, the guide offers the following:
- Perceivable – Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.
- Operable – User interface components and navigation must be operable.
- Understandable – Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.
- Robust – Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.
The guidelines in the document is subsections of the principles. The numbering has been preserved to note this.
- Guideline 1.1 Text Alternatives: Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language.
- Guideline 1.2 Time-based Media: Provide alternatives for time-based media.
- Guideline 1.3 Adaptable: Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure.
- Guideline 1.4 Distinguishable: Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.
- Guideline 2.1 Keyboard Accessible: Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
- Guideline 2.2 Enough Time: Provide users enough time to read and use content.
- Guideline 2.3 Seizures: Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures.
- Guideline 2.4 Navigable: Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are.
- Guideline 3.1 Readable: Make text content readable and understandable.
- Guideline 3.2 Predictable: Make Web pages appear and operate in predictable ways.
- Guideline 3.3 Input Assistance: Help users avoid and correct mistakes.
- Guideline 4.1 Compatible: Maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies.
WCAG 2.0. is a detailed guide that has been made pretty accessible. Some guidelines may be difficult, if not virtually impossible to implement (such as the desired level of readability on a technical site). Others have already been incorporated as standard (like the ability to enlarge text). Most are surprisingly easy to incorporate (like using shorter sentences and smaller words). It’s easy to turn ‘disabled people’ into a simplistic image of a person in a wheelchair (like the white-on-blue sign) that have identical needs when in fact, disability remains a varied and complex phenomena that requires varied and complex strategies in order to create full accessibility to all.