Web 2.0 Accessibility

As Americans continue to rely on the web to perform everyday functions like shopping, banking and travel, web accessibility rises to the surface as a growing concern. In a major effort to make online communications accessible, DOT has implemented new rules as part of their continuing implementation of the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986.

W3C WAI updated two supporting documents for Web Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) 2.0: Techniques for WCAG 2.0 and Understanding WCAG 2.0. WCAG 2.0 itself is a stable document and, therefore, does not change.

The WCAG guidelines and success criteria are designed to be broadly applicable to current and future web technologies, including dynamic applications, mobile, digital television, etc. For an introduction to the WCAG documents, see the WCAG Overview. The W3C Working Group Notes that were just released provide specific guidance. They include code examples, resources, and tests, which are periodically updated to cover current practices for meeting the WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria.

The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has published the completed Guidance on Applying WCAG 2.0 to Non-Web Information and Communication Technologies (WCAG2ICT) as an informative W3C Working Group Note. The new guide addresses the interpretation and application of the WCAG 2.0 standards to non-web documents and software. WCAG2ICT was made possible through the collaborative effort to support harmonized accessibility solutions across a wide range of technologies.

WCAG2ICT is directed towards ICT managers, ICT developers, policy makers, and other wanting to understand how WCAG 2.0 can be applied to non-web document and software. WCAG2ICT specifically provides:

  • Overall context for applying WCAG 2.0 to non-web documents and software.
  • Guidance on applying the WCAG principles, guidelines, and Levels A and AA success criteria to non-web documents and software.
  • Key Terms related to applying WCAG 2.0 to non-web documents and software.
  • Comments on the definitions in the WCAG 2.0 Glossary.
  • Comments on conformance.
  • Background information on some topics.

WCAG2ICT also includes material from the WCAG 2.0 standard to provide context, along with specific guidance related to non-web ICT, formatted as follows:

  • WCAG 2.0 principles, guidelines, and success criteria — the exact text from the WCAG 2.0 standard. These are visually styled in pale yellow boxes and usually prefaced with "Principle...", "From Guideline...", or "From Success Criterion…"
  • Excerpted text from the "Intent" sections of Understanding WCAG 2.0, an informative supporting document. These are visually styled in pale yellow boxes and prefaced with "Intent from Understanding Success Criterion..."
  • Guidance on applying each success criteria to non-web documents and software. These are visually styled in pale blue boxes with a heading on a dark blue background that starts with "Additional Guidance..."

More details on the WCAG2ICT can be found in the WCAG2ICT overview on the W3C website.

A student with a low vision disability sparked allegations that the University was in violation of the ADA. The student fell behind in coursework due to a lack of accessible course materials, prompting the student to dropout early in the quarter.

In a Justice Department announcement yesterday, it was said that a settlement was reached with Louisiana Tech University and the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System to remedy the alleged violations to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The University agreed to implement several policies that require they deploy learning technology, web pages and course material that meets the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA.

Read more about Louisiana Tech University adopting WCAG 2.0 level AA standard in a settlement with the Feds.

Read the Department of Justice Press Release here.

Weight Watchers announced today that they have an ongoing initiative to make its websites, iOS mobile applications and print information more accessible and inclusive for its members and subscribers with visual impairments and will conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 level AA. 

Read More About Weight Watchers Accessibility Initiatives

Lainey Feingold stated, "Weight Watchers has been a great partner in Structured Negotiations with the ACB and blind Weight Watchers members.   Linda Dardarian, of the Oakland civil rights firm Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho, and I represented the blind community."

According to Cornell University, in 2011 there was an estimated 14,144,300 (4.9%) people in the United States with a cognitive disability.  Broadly speaking, intellectual disabilities pertain to difficulties with memory; problem-solving:  attention, reading, linguistic, and verbal comprehension; math comprehension; and visual comprehension. Intellectual disabilities range from mild, moderate or severe and many people have one or more intellectual disability.

Adobe Edge Inspect has been around for a while but the latest accessibility upgrades will be a breath of fresh air for accessibility professionals.  Adobe, as a provider of developer tools, recognizes that accessibility is not a concept that just opens doors for users with disabilities. Accessibility is actually a concept which improves the user experience for everyone.  At Adobe this includes the development experience for developers and testers.

The adoption of rich internet technologies such as Dojo, jQuery and YUI has increased the overall usability of websites but many of these features are not usable by people with disabilities.  WAI-ARIA is a coding specification from the W3C that defines attributes that can be added to HTML elements to communicate key information to assistive technology to make these components understandable and accessible.

Today, there is varying levels of support within browsers and assistive technology but usage is increasing (See WAI-ARIA usage statistics published by BuildWith).  Interactive Accessibility recommends using WAI-ARIA but caution should be used and only those with good level of support across asssitive technology should be used. 

WAI-ARIA Assistive Technology Support

  1. JAWS screen reader supports WAI-ARIA (Word Document)

WAI-ARIA Reference Documents

For more information on WAI-ARIA see:



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