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

Last December the U.S. Access Board published the second Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for refreshing the Section 508 Accessibility Standards which describe the accessibility support that should be in Information and Communication Technologies that are purchased by U.S. federal agencies [many U.S. States and Universities also apply these standards to their ICT purchases; and in Europe the emerging Mandate 376 effort seeks to do the same for European government purchases].

One particularly interesting thing in this second draft is the idea of applying the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.0 (AA level) to non-web platforms and applications. This is set forth in provision E207.2 WCAG Conformance which states: "User interface components and content of platforms and applications shall conform to Level A and Level AA Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements specified for web pages in WCAG 2.0 (incorporated by reference in Chapter 1)." In explaining this decision, the Access Board noted that: "WCAG is written to be technology neutral. While oriented towards web pages which are defined as being delivered using HTTP, it is straightforward to apply the WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements to user interface components and content of platforms and applications."

Many of public comments to the Access Board praised the significant use of WCAG 2.0 throughout this draft, and appreciated the potential to simplify the standard, but raised concerns that for a number of the WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria it wasn't so straightforward to do this. The April 2012 M376 draft followed the Access Board's lead in using WCAG 2.0 but noted a number of places where they felt it didn't apply to non-web ICT.

To better clarify this use of WCAG 2.0, Oracle joined with a number of our colleagues working in industry, disability advocacy, U.S. and European accessibility standards bodies, and U.S. Federal agencies - all with deep accessibility technology expertise as well as WCAG 2.0 knowledge - to develop guidance in applying WCAG to non-web ICT as part of a new W3C WAI Task Force: "WCAG2ICT".

After a couple months of very intense work, earlier today we published our first public draft for comments of Applying WCAG 2.0 to Non-Web Information and Communications Technologies. I strongly encourage all interested parties to review this draft, and submit comments during the current review period, which runs through 7 September 2012 (details in the Status of This Document section).

I also want to thank the participants of 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 Shadi Abou-Zahra, Michael Cooper, and Andi Snow-Weaver.

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Peter Korn

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