Website Accessibility Facts & Laws

February 20, 2009
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W3C stands for the World Wide Web Consortium. W3C is an international consortium that work together to develop web standards. W3C’s mission is:
“To lead the World Wide Web to its full potential by developing protocols and guidelines that ensure long-term growth for the Web.”

Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
Website accessibility is an on-going project. WAI is related to the U.S. Government’s 1998 amendment to the Rehabilitation Act — Section 508. Section 508 requires U.S. government departments’ and agencies’ websites must be accessible to people with physical, sensory, and cognitive disabilities.

On February 17, 2009 the W3C published a working draft called “Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) 2.0.” The document states: “This specification provides guidelines for designing Web content authoring tools that are more accessible for people with disabilities. An authoring tool that conforms to these guidelines will promote accessibility by providing an accessible user interface to authors with disabilities as well as enabling, supporting, and promoting the production of accessible Web content by all authors.”

ATAG is meant to support the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. WCAG “covers a wide range of recommendations for making Web content more accessible. Following these guidelines will make content accessible to a wider range of 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. Following these guidelines will also often make your Web content more usable to users in general.”

Following is the W3C Web Accessibility QuickTips / WCAG 2.0 at a Glance:

WCAG 2.0 has 12 guidelines that are organized under 4 principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. For each guideline, there are testable success criteria, which are at three levels: A, AA, and AAA.

Perceivable
* Provide text alternatives for non-text content.
* Provide captions and alternatives for audio and video content.
* Make content adaptable; and make it available to assistive technologies.
* Use sufficient contrast to make things easy to see and hear.

Operable
* Make all functionality keyboard accessible.
* Give users enough time to read and use content.
* Do not use content that causes seizures.
* Help users navigate and find content.

Understandable
* Make text readable and understandable.
* Make content appear and operate in predictable ways.
* Help users avoid and correct mistakes.

Robust
* Maximize compatibility with current and future technologies.


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