Global Web Standards Consortium Moves to Update Accessibility Guidance

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Under a draft set of updated guidelines, websites and mobile apps would have to meet over two dozen new criteria in order to adequately improve their accessibility to people with disabilities. Comments are being taken through the month’s end.

The global technical organization that develops web standards issued draft WCAG 2.1, its latest working draft of updated web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG), Feb. 28. The guidelines haven’t been updated since 2008.

The Department of Justice has endorsed WCAG as the industry standard as it continues to work on regulations on making websites accessible to the visually and hearing-impaired.

Version 2.1, which will be developed over the next year, is meant to be an interim set of guidelines while work continues on Version 3.0. The organization that is developing the guidance, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), has dubbed Version 3.0 a “more substantial restructuring.”

The latest draft includes 28 new criteria that websites and apps must meet to conform to the guidelines. For example, web content must be able to be resized to 400 percent without loss of functionality and without requiring two-dimensional scrolling.  Graphics essential to understanding web content must have a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1, according to the draft document.

A W3C working group is taking comments through March 31 on whether those criteria meet user needs.