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November 5th, 2015

W3C Launches One-Stop Accessibility Resource For Developers

Continued engagement is always key.

Developers looking for expert guidance on how best to incorporate accessibility into their app builds now have access to a one-stop shop helpfully provided by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

W3C Developers is designed to provide app developers with all the tools that they need to ensure that their apps comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. Developers can also join an accessibility forum called Discourse that is a community vehicle for idea sharing, feedback and contribution to existing Web standards.

CEO of the W3C Dr. Jeffrey Jaffe said in a blog post that W3C Developers would provide free and open source W3C validation tools and accessibility checkpoints intended to increase developer interaction with W3C. These tools include an HTML Checker, a Mobile Checker, an RSS feed Validator and a CSS Validator—many of which are supported by specific examples of code hosted on GitHub.

According to Dr. Jaffe more than 6,000 developers are already part of the W3C community and the organization is providing free training to thousands of other developers who may have concerns about accessibility requirements. W3C Developers also includes a QA element called Test the Web Forward that the W3C wants app developers to utilize at every stage of a build.

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Updates To WCAG 2.0 On Horizon

On October 1, the W3C said that a new charter for WCAG 2.0 was approved by member organizations that would allow a working group to consider improvements to the existing guidelines. Changes in technology—mobile, in particular—has identified some gaps in the original standards and while WCAG 2.0 is the accepted global standard, the W3C is aware that the guidelines need to evolve accordingly.

The W3C said:

There have been some changes to the technology landscape, however, that were not fully anticipated in the development of WCAG 2.0. Changes in how people access the Web on mobile devices require success criteria that address those situations more specifically. Users with cognitive and learning disabilities and users with low vision have suggested ways in which success criteria could better address their requirements. In recent years the WCAG Working Group formed task forces on mobile, cognitive and low accessibility to define requirements and candidate success criteria for these three areas. New technologies on the horizon and the rapid evolution of the underlying technologies for user interaction on the Web are likely to continue to drive the need for new guidance.

The approved charter will allow the W3C to make extensions to WCAG 2.0 and focus attention on specific accessibility requirements in mobile and other user agents. The WCAG Working Group is now expected to collect data from developers and vendors that could see either an updated WCAG 2.0 or—potentially—a new series of accessibility guidelines that are relevant to the current components of Web accessibility.

At the time of writing, the W3C has not set a formal timeline for the delivery of these updated guidelines but developers should be aware that the goalposts are very likely to move sooner rather than later.

Image: “Rene Jaun talking about accessibility of iPhone,” by Flickr user visualpun.ch, Creative Commons