XML News from Monday, May 12, 2008

The W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group has updated two working drafts on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines:

Understanding WCAG 2.0

This document, "Understanding WCAG 2.0," is an essential guide to understanding and using Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 [WCAG20]. It is part of a series of documents that support WCAG 2.0. Please note that the contents of this document are informative (they provide guidance), and not normative (they do not set requirements for conforming to WCAG 2.0).

WCAG 2.0 establishes a set of Success Criteria to define conformance to the WCAG 2.0 Guidelines. A Success Criterion is a testable statement that will be either true or false when applied to specific Web content. "Understanding WCAG 2.0" provides detailed information about each Success Criterion, including its intent, the key terms that are used in the Success Criterion, and how the Success Criteria in WCAG 2.0 help people with different types of disabilities. This document also provides examples of Web content that meet the success criterion using various Web technologies (for instance, HTML, CSS, XML), and common examples of Web content that does not meet the success criterion.

This document indicates specific techniques to meet each Success Criterion. Details for how to implement each technique are available in Techniques and Failures for WCAG 2.0, but "Understanding WCAG 2.0" provides the information about the relationship of each technique to the Success Criteria. Techniques are categorized by the level of support they provide for the Success Criteria. "Sufficient techniques" are sufficient to meet a particular Success Criterion (either by themselves or in combination with other techniques), while other techniques are advisory and therefore optional. None of the techniques are required to meet WCAG 2.0, although some may be the only known method if a particular technology is used. "Advisory techniques" are not sufficient to meet the Success Criteria on their own (because they are not testable or provide incomplete support) but it is encouraged that authors follow them when possible to provide enhanced accessibility. Another support category is "Failure techniques", which describe authoring practices known to cause Web content not to conform to WCAG 2.0. Although failure techniques provide advisory information about certain authoring practices, authors must avoid those practices in order to meet the WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria.

Techniques for WCAG 2.0

"'Techniques and Failures for WCAG 2.0' provides information to Web content developers who wish to satisfy the success criteria of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0). Techniques are specific authoring practices that may be used in support of the WCAG 2.0 success criteria. This document provides "General Techniques" that describe basic practices that are applicable to any technology, and technology-specific techniques that provide information applicable to specific technologies. Currently, technology-specific techniques are available for HTML, CSS, ECMAScript, SMIL, ARIA, and Web servers. The World Wide Web Consortium only documents techniques for non-proprietary technologies; the WCAG Working Group hopes vendors of other technologies will provide similar techniques to describe how to conform to WCAG 2.0 using those technologies. Use of the techniques provided in this document makes it easier for Web content to demonstrate conformance to WCAG 2.0 success criteria than if these techniques are not used."

There's a lot of good information here. These should really be required reading for all HTML authors and web designers. The Techniques spec is probably the most practical, and where most readers should start.