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The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a collection of guidelines intended to make web content accessible to all users (regardless of technology, disability etc). They were first published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in 1999. Over the past few years there has been an effort to update these guidelines with a second version – WCAG 2.0.

WCAG 2.0 Candidate Recommendation

Earlier this year I was involved in the Candidate Recommendation stage of WCAG 2.0. This was essentially a chance for web developers and designers to ‘test-drive’ the guidelines to ensure they are usable in real-life scenarios. With a number of the guidelines up for review as potentially unworkable, this stage of the process was vital.

I submitted a proposal to re-design and this was chosen as one of the implementation sites in June 2008.

Implementation experience

On submitting my site re-design for the WCAG 2.0 Candidate Recommendation, I was asked to provide feedback on all relevant areas of comformance – detailing how I met each guideline. My feedback was as follows:

1.1.1: Non-text Content (A)

Alt descriptions for images with relevant content. Null alt attributes for decorative images.

1.3.1: Info and Relationships (A)

Semantic elements used to structure page and convey information. Includes using navigation lists and page headings, and using CSS for layout and formatting.

1.4.1: Use of Color (A)

Colours not used to convey meaning.

1.4.3: Contrast (Minimum) (AA)

High contrast for test achieved using a span background colour.

1.4.4: Resize text (AA)

All text can be resized by user agents, by at least 200%.

1.4.5: Images of Text (AA)

Non essential text appearing as images given very large font size and alternative attributes.

2.1.1: Keyboard (A)

All aspects of the site can be navigated and accessed by keyboard. Use of skip links.

2.1.2: No Keyboard Trap (A)

No keyboard traps present.

2.4.1: Bypass Blocks (A)

No keyboard traps present.

2.4.2: Page Titled (A)

Appropriate titles given to all pages.

2.4.3: Focus Order (A)

All elements appear in the correct order in the source code.

2.4.4: Link Purpose (In Context) (A)

Link text sufficiently descriptive to be obvious when read alone.

2.4.5: Multiple Ways (AA)

Main navigation links are supplemented by relevant contextual links within main content.

2.4.6: Headings and Labels (AA)

Heading used to highlight subsections of each page, where appropriate.

2.4.7: Focus Visible (AA)

All links have a highly visible link, visited, focus, hover and active state.

3.1.1: Language of Page (A)

Default language defined on every page.

3.2.1: On Focus (A)

Links do not open in new window.

3.2.2: On Input (A)

Links do not open in new window.

3.2.3: Consistent Navigation (AA)

Navigation is consistent on every page.

3.2.4: Consistent Identification (AA)

All functionality is consistent across every page.

4.1.1: Parsing (A)

All XHTML and CSS validated accordingly to formal grammars.

Acceptance e-mail and amendments

On Wednesday September 24th I received an e-mail from Loretta Guarino Reid, co-chair of the WCAG Working Group, telling me that my site had been evaluated and found to conform to level AA of WCAG 2.0, with just a couple of exceptions. These were:

Insufficient contrast for the main menu

This came about from a change in the rules for colour contrasts. I had used algorithms relevant to WCAG 1.0, due to a lack of many good tools for testing against WCAG 2.0. However, after a bit of searching I found the WAT-C Luminosity Contrast Ratio Analyser 1.1 and used this to bring the colours into conformity.

Use of color

It was noticed that some links could only be identified as such by their colour. By making all links Bold as well, this was resolved. This was in line with the advice given as part of the notes accompanying F73: Failure of Success Criterion 1.4.1.

Implementation report

I’m now hoping that my site will be included in the final report, which the working group hopes to publish by Christmas 2008.

PS: For an excellent account of implementing WCAG 2.0, from a fellow implementor, see Mike Cherim’s article My WCAG 2.0 AAA Implementation.

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