Friday, December 12, 2008

Consortium Releases New Guidelines for Web Accessibility


The World Wide Web Consortium, an organization devoted to improving the interoperability of the Web, has released a new version of its Web-accessibility guidelines. The guidelines are meant to help Web designers build sites that can be read and understood by people with disabilities as diverse as blindness, hearing impairments, physical impairments, and even cognitive disabilities like short-term memory impairment or seizure disorders.

The first version of the guidelines has been widely used around the world, but sometimes with modifications.

“There are a lot of local versions — sometimes with subtle or major differences,” said Judy Brewer, director of the Web Accessibility Initiative for the consortium. Web developers following different versions of the guidelines would “get into problems where there are conflicting requirements.”

“That is to the detriment of not only the students [with disabilities] but also the professors — when they are preparing materials, they want to focus on how to make good materials, not how to make it accessible at the same time.”

She hopes that the new version will be adopted broadly, and that adoption will push developers of Web tools and other software to incorporate the guidelines’ recommendations into their products. “That way, developers won’t have to read a set of guidelines every time they put up a site,” she said.

Read more about these guidelines here

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