Monday Dec 17, 2012

Applying WCAG 2.0 to Non-Web ICT: second draft published from WCAG2ICT Task Force - for public review

Last Thursday the W3C published an updated Working Draft of Guidance on Applying WCAG 2.0 to Non-Web Information and Communications Technologies. As I noted last July when the first draft was published, the motivation for this guidance comes from the Section 508 refresh draft, and also the European Mandate 376 draft, both of which seek to apply the WCAG 2.0 level A and AA Success Criteria to non-web ICT documents and software.

This second Working Draft represents a major step forward in harmonization with the December 5th, 2012 Mandate 376 draft documents, including specifically Draft EN 301549 "European accessibility requirements for public procurement of ICT products and services". This work greatly increases the likelihood of harmonization between the European and American technical standards for accessibility, for web sites and web applications, non-web documents, and non-web software.

As I noted last October at the European Policy Centre event: "The Accessibility Act – Ensuring access to goods and services across the EU", and again last month at the follow-up EPC event: "Accessibility - From European challenge to global opportunity", "There isn't a 'German Macular Degernation', a 'French Cerebral Palsy', an 'American Autism Spectrum Disorder'. Disabilities are part of the human condition. They’re not unique to any one country or geography – just like ICT. Even the built environment – phones, trains and cars – is the same worldwide. The definition of ‘accessible’ should be global – and the solutions should be too. Harmonization should be global, and not just EU-wide. It doesn’t make sense for the EU to have a different definition to the US or Japan." With these latest drafts from the W3C and Mandate 376 team, we've moved a major step forward toward that goal of a global "definition of 'accessible' ICT."

I strongly encourage all interested parties to read the Call for Review, and to submit comments during the current review period, which runs through 15 February 2013. Comments should be sent to public-wcag2ict-comments-AT-w3.org. I want to thank my colleagues on the WCAG2ICT Task Force for the incredible time and energy and expertise they brought to this work - including particularly my co-authors Judy Brewer, Loïc Martínez Normand, Mike Pluke, Andi Snow-Weaver, and Gregg Vanderheiden; and the document editors Michael Cooper, and Andi Snow-Weaver.

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Peter Korn

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