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Final Countdown To Long-Awaited Web Access Guidelines.

A long-awaited updated version of the main international standard for making websites accessible to people with disabilities is expected to be published in December, E-Access Bulletin has learned.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.0 from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C – http://www.w3c.org) have been in development for several years.

The first version of the WCAG guidelines now dates back around a decade, and though it has proved a vital tool for raising awareness of accessibility issues it has long been seen as over-technical, complex and unclear in many situations.

Version 2.0 is set to address many of these problems by moving away from rigid technical ‘checkpoints’ to more flexible ‘success criteria.’

Earlier this month week, the responsible World Wide Web consortium working group met in Boston, US to finalise the current ‘Candidate recommendation’ phase of WCAG 2.0 in which the new guidelines have been tested on real web sites to confirm their applicability.

The group will debate which success criteria can be considered sufficiently stable to be implemented, and some of the requirements previously marked as ‘At risk’ will be reviewed to ensure the guidelines can be met in practice. A W3C spokesman told E-Government Bulletin this week that publication in December was now expected, and that if the deadline did slip any further it would be a matter of weeks, not months.

NOTE: For an exclusive interview with two W3C staff see ‘Organisation in the spotlight': http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=208

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