Why Standards Are Important
Web standards are guidelines that give developers flexibility and creativity to create web content that is browser and platform independent and accessible by a large population of users. Maintaining universal standards encourage innovation while continuing to be compatible with current and past technologies. The advantages of using standards are:
- Universal access to information, including access by people with special needs or using assistive devices.
- Platform independence for a broad spectrum of output from hand-held devices to high-end workstations.
- Better indexing by search engines.
- Design that is easy to maintain and to re-purpose for future emerging technologies.
- Less labor intensive and more cost effective.
What Standards Do We Use
For Web Accessibility we currently adhere to Section 508 of the Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 508 is currently being updated, and with the additional changes coming to the Americans with Disabilities Act in regards to Web accessibility, all current and future Web development should use WCAG 2 Level AA as the minimum standard for Web Accessibility. For the current Section 508 requirements and how to meet them, read the Accessibility Primer and Checklist.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0)
These specifications provide guidelines for making Web content and resources accessible to a large number of users while providing the flexibility for developers to create Web resources that are independent of browsers and platforms. The guidelines consist of
- General principles of accessible design with broad concepts that apply to all Web content
- Checkpoints with definitions explaining how the guidelines apply to particular Web content
- Techniques and specifications for Web-specific technologies such as HTML, CSS and XML to help implement the design principles.
The principles are divided into 12 guidelines with testable success criteria. The checkpoints are assigned A, AA, AAA levels of priority. The success criteria are written as testable statements that are not technology-specific. The WCAG 2.0 Web site provides an Overview for how to meet WCAG 2.0 guidelines.