Feeds

New web accessibility guidelines will be ignored, says critic

'All the cool kids already know about it'

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

New guidelines on web accessibility are nearing completion after years of delay, according to the body behind them. But outspoken critic Joe Clark says the guidelines will be ignored when they are published.

The first version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 1.0) were published first in 1999 by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

No final update has been published in the intervening eight years, but the W3C has told OUT-LAW Radio that a final draft will be ready in a few months, and the finalised version 2.0 of the guidelines is expected in 2008.

"I expect that another last call working draft will come out in the coming months then how long it progresses after that really depends on the community," said Shawn Henry, outreach co-ordinator with the W3C body behind the guidelines, the Web Accessibility Initiative. "I hope we're close and I hope that the community realises that. I think there is a very real possibility that this is it and we'll be able to move forward from here."

Henry said after the release of the last call working draft, the final WCAG processes could take just a few months. "I think there is a good chance it will be published in 2008," she said.

The delay has partly been caused by the processes used to produce WCAG. Henry said its producers have to respond in some way to every comment or criticism made about the guidelines through its formal processes.

"With each working draft we typically get hundreds of comments, so it's really impossible to say when it will be done because it depends on how many comments we get each time."

One of WCAG's fiercest critics, though, said the guidelines could face a stiff challenge when they are published because the web world has moved on since the first version was published.

"WCAG 2 will have a more limited audience. There are competing standards," said Joe Clark, a web accessibility consultant who criticised earlier drafts of WCAG 2. "There is the revamp of the Section 508 [of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973] regs, there is the European standard for accessibility, and there is the Japanese standard nobody ever talks about."

Henry said the W3C was working closely with these other standards bodies to ensure that all of the new standards work with WCAG. "I think it is likely that there will be greater harmonisation with those standards and WCAG 2.0." She added that these other standards are still being developed.

Clark also said the popularity of interactivity in websites that has gone under the banner Web 2.0 has also had its effect on the world of standards. He said these more complex sites demand better computer code, which in itself is more accessible.

"All the cool kids already know about web accessibility and they just automatically make reasonably or very accessible websites as a matter of course," said Clark. "They never look at WCAG anything, they never look at any of the guidelines. We are living really in a post-guideline era. All the standardistas already know what they have to do, and some trivial or even some significant rewording of WCAG is never going to affect them because they are never going to crack these things open."

Despite the criticisms it has faced over the long delay and complicated language of earlier drafts, Henry said the passing years have seen the internet has become a place that is more accessible to people with disabilities.

"Basic awareness is hugely different over the last 10 years," she said. "But there is still a long way to go."

Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.