University of Maryland


Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Attains W3C Candidate Recommendation Status

June 23rd, 2008

On April 30, 2008, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) published the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) as a W3C Candidate Recommendation. This is an important milestone, indicating that there is now a broad consensus in the WCAG Working Group and among public reviewers on the technical content.

“The community is eager for WCAG 2.0 to become a final W3C Recommendation, and this takes us one step closer,” said Loretta Guarino Reid, Co-Chair of the WCAG Working Group. “Advancing WCAG 2.0 to Candidate Recommendation provides a stable document that developers can use for trial implementations in their Web sites.”

WCAG 2.0 Meets Today’s Needs

WCAG addresses accessibility of Web content for people with disabilities and many elderly users, and is one of three Web accessibility guidelines produced by W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). WCAG 2.0 provides a stable foundation for accessibility of Web content and Web applications.

The guidelines are not technology-specific. Therefore WCAG 2.0, along with extensive supporting documents, should provide flexibility across the broad range of Web technologies and environments in today’s Web and also into the future. WCAG 2.0 is designed to be easier to use than WCAG 1.0 and is more precisely testable, using a combination of automated testing and human evaluation.

Extensive Community Feedback Incorporated

“WCAG 2.0 has been developed with extensive community input,” said Gregg Vanderheiden, Chair of the WCAG Working Group and Director of the Trace Center. “We’ve worked very hard, including publishing twelve Working Drafts and addressing more than 3,000 comments, in order to ensure that WCAG 2.0 meets the need for an updated international standard with which national and local Web accessibility guidelines can harmonize.”

Next Steps in the Process

Candidate Recommendation (CR) is a major step in the W3C standards development process. The primary purpose of the CR stage is for developers and designers to “test drive” WCAG 2.0 to demonstrate that it can be implemented in Web sites. WAI has solicited a broad range of Web sites and Web applications to use WCAG 2.0 at this stage, and share implementation experience. The WCAG Working Group will be reviewing over two dozen implementations during the next months. This experience will inform continuing work on key supplementary tools and documents:

  • How to Meet WCAG 2.0 (allows developers and designers to build a customized view of WCAG 2.0 requirements)
  • Understanding WCAG 2.0
  • Techniques for WCAG 2.0
  • Overview of WCAG 2.0 Documents
  • WCAG 2.0 FAQ
  • Comparison between WCAG 1.0 and WCAG 2.0

Contributions of the Trace Center

The Trace Center has been a leader and key contributor in the development of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Trace Center Director Gregg Vanderheiden has been the co-chair of the WCAG Working Group since its inception. Vanderheiden, co-chair Loretta Guarino Reid (Google, Inc.), Trace Web Accessibility Specialist Ben Caldwell, and Michael Cooper (W3C) are co-editors of WCAG 2.0, WCAG 2.0 Techniques, the Understanding WCAG 2.0 reference, and the How to Meet WCAG 2.0 Quick-reference.

Continuing support for Trace’s work on Web accessibility has been provided by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), U.S. Department of Education, under grants H133E980008, H133E030012, and H133E080022.