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Version 2 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines has been released, replacing version 1.0 which was released nearly 10 years ago (May 5th, 1999).

This new version has an emphasis on technology independence, so theoretically you can apply these guidelines to any device which uses the web, however this does mean that some recommendations can be a bit esoteric and hard to visualise.

These days, web developers often use commonly-accepted ‘best practice’ when developing sites, or they use frameworks which used best practice approaches themselves, so things aren’t as grim as they were 10 years ago, but there’s still room for improvement.

Due presumably to the many different ways that the Internet is being used, the new guidelines are also massively expanded in length. There are:

  • 199 General techniques
  • 90 HTML & XHTML techniques
  • 24 CSS techniques
  • 22 Client-side scripting techniques
  • 4 Server-side scripting techniques
  • 8 SMIL techniques
  • 3 Plain-text techniques
  • 4 ARIA techniques
  • … and a big long list of common failures
Interestingly, at the bottom of each technique, they have a testing procedure and expected results.
Seeing as these are brand new guidelines, and the world is used to the old version, plus the fact that a great many accessibility documents were written based on version 1, it will be interesting to see how quickly the new guidelines are adopted and how people adapt to these.
I intend to integrate these new guidelines into an upcoming release of the OpenWolf validator.
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