WCAG2.1 Is the web about to become more accessible?

Joe Chidzik, senior accessibility consultant, AbilityNet

Moves to improve and update the global Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are underway

The guidelines produced by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), inform web developers how to make websites as user-friendly as possible. They cover a wide range of recommendations for people with disabilities including blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity and combinations of these.

desk top with computer emblazoned with the word 'new' onscreen

When the guidelines - which are the result of cooperative efforts between software developers, academics and other related groups - are followed, they make web content more usable for everyone in general.

WCAG 2.1 is currently scheduled to become a recommendation in June 2018. At the moment it's available as a first working public draft, meaning a significant amount of refinement will happen before being adopted as a technical recommendation. For interest, here is the process through which W3C develops guidelines.

What's new in global web accessibility standards?

There are many proposals in the document, including one designed to ensure that websites are compatible with voice recognition software as a basic measure - a single A rating, and that to achieve a higher level AA rating, the guide says a site should have no unsolicited pop-ups or a way to turn them off.

These examples show that the guidelines are becoming more inclusive, and covering a greater range of abilities and needs.

A quick overview of the 28 proposed new criteria can be found on David MacDonald's CanAdapt blog.

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