What Is WCAG?
WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. It’s a set of published guidelines put together by the World Wide Web Consortium or W3C, which is the primary international standards organization for the Internet. This was possible by individuals and organizations representing the industry, disability organizations, government, and research labs from all over the globe coming together for a single and shared standard for web content accessibility. It is designed to be used internationally by persons, organizations, and governments.
Web developers are assisted by the technical guidelines and techniques so that the online content they create is accessible to the broadest range of audiences. That includes users with disabilities – those with auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, and visual impairments.
Why is there a WCAG 1.0, WCAG 2.0 and WCAG 2.1?
The first web accessibility guideline was compiled and released in January 1995. From then, many different Web access guidelines were published from various authors and organizations over the next few years. The WCAG 1.0 was published and became a W3C recommendation in May 1999. They have since been superseded by WCAG 2.0.
There have been many iterations to keep up with the technical landscape of the web which is evolving rapidly. Today, there’s the WCAG 2.0, the second iteration of the standard. And then, the WCAG 2.1 update coming up.
The World Wide Web Consortium is adopting this strategy to essentially make the WCAG standard future-proof – anticipating new developments and methods so that there is less stress or shocks when changes come. Even as technology advances, including hardware and software progress, the fundamentals of accessibility difficulties for persons with disabilities remain constant.
Why should websites be accessible to Persons with Disabilities?
Aside from the fact that there are millions of Americans with disabilities, 56 million in the US alone, websites should conform to WCAG because it is the law. Discriminating against people with disabilities is illegal. It is also a right. Even with disabilities, they have the right to new information and communications technologies, and that includes the Internet. Also, they are consumers with purchasing power. It’s good for businesses if websites conforming to WCAG are made accessible to anyone and everyone.