The WCAG 2.0 guidelines for Web content accessibility were officially launched yesterday (11 December 2009). Hurrah – the very dated and flawed WCAG 1.0 guidelines are no more! And organisations which require Web resources to conform to WCAG 1.0 should be quickly updating their policies, their training course, their workflow process, etc. Although as the WCAG 2.0 guidelines have been under development for several years (the first draft was published in January 2001!) with a number of iterations of towards the published version having been released over the past couple of years this should have given organisations plenty of time to plan their migration strategy.
The guidelines are much improved, with an emphasis on conformance with four key POUR principles (resources should be Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust). And although it should be remembered that the guidelines have not yet been proven to demonstrably enhance accessibility and there is little cheap medications experience in how the guidelines will be implemented in a real world context it should also be pointed out that the WCAG 1.0 guidelines have been shown to be flawed. So there is no excuse not to move on.
The challenge will be knowing how to apply WCAG 2.0, based on the experiences we’ve had in the past. And as I learnt from the Designing For Disability event I spoke at last week, the Deaf together with those with learning disabilities do seem to find visually rich content more accessible – although I should hasten to add that these findings were described as feedback from particular case studies and should not be regarded as universal truths. Indeed I would suggest that it is a truth which should be universally acknowledged that universal accessibility is a pipe dream, and that we should be seeking to enhance access and widening participation.