Thursday Sep 05, 2013

"Guidance on Applying WCAG 2.0 to Non-Web Information and Communications Technologies (WCAG2ICT)" was formally published today as a W3C Working Group Note

After an intense 16 months, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group has published the Working Group Note "Guidance on Applying WCAG 2.0 to Non-Web Information and Communications Technologies (WCAG2ICT)".

I want to thank my co-editors Michael Cooper and Andi Snow-Weaver; co-authors Loïc Martínez Normand, Mike Pluke, Andi Snow-Weaver, and Gregg Vanderheiden; and all of the active and engaged participants in the WCAG2ICT Task Force and the reviewing and approving participants in the WCAG Working Group for all that they have done to draft, review, and publish this Working Group Note in record time. I also want to specifically thank Andrew Kirkpatrick and Joshue O Connor, the new co-chairs of the WCAG Working Group for their 11th hour work to get this document published this week.

Even though this document was only published today, it has already had a tremendous impact on regulatory efforts in Europe and the United States. Previous drafts of WCAG2ICT from last July and from last December formed the basis of the European procurement standards effort Mandate 376 and specifically the draft technical standard EN 301 549. Similarly in the United States, the U.S. Access Board decided to use the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 as the basis the refresh of Section 508 ICT accessibility standards as they are applied to non-web documents and software (as set forth in their 2011 Draft Rule).

I'm certain I speak for all members of the WCAG2ICT Task Force and the WCAG Working Group when I say that we look forward to the completed Mandate 376 and Section 508 refresh work, and hope that our Working Group Note will have proven helpful in the efforts to develop effective, meaningful, and globally harmonized accessibility standards for ICT procurement.

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.

Friday Jul 27, 2012

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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