A lot has been talked about contents, its importance and relevance. Lot again has been said about how to write contents to rank better. Finally, a lot has been said about content placement strategies.
So, we thought of covering a subject which has not been touched at all, or barely has been touched. “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines” is our topic today.
A clarification is needed upfront I guess. This post has hardly anything to do with plagiarism, unauthorized copying or distribution or the DMCA. This post, on the contrary, talks about W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative where content handling has been discussed.
If you are reading this post comfortably, I can almost safely assume that you have all your senses working perfectly, including your vision. But what about the disabled people who are not that lucky? This WCAG sets down regulations so the disabled groups can access the internet contents easily as well. Also, back then, when smartphones were a futuristic concept from sci-fi movies, mobiles were not able to access internet as easily. So some guidelines were needed so the people who were using handheld devices can access the contents as well.
I guess another clarification is needed here. When I say ‘content’ it doesn’t mean the text content only. It means every content which can come on a webpage. Text, image, audio, video. you name it.
Let’s dig a bit into the history. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG version 1.0 were formulated way back in 1999 and three types of requirements were led down.
Priority 1: These conditions must be followed by the web developers to make sure everybody and everything can access the content. Complying these requirements fetched the site A rating.
Priority 2: These conditions should be followed so everybody and everything can comfortably access the content. Complying these requirements used to fetch the site AA rating.
Priority 3: these conditions are optional. If implemented, everyone and everything can have easy access to web contents. Complying this set got the site AAA rating.
As the internet evolved, almost every standard changed including the hardware which access the internet. So there was a need to update the old standard of WCAG as the standard was getting too backdated and lots of confusions were arising, mainly because these new hardware and standards were not defined under the old guidelines.
In very late 2008, W3C introduced the newer version of these guidelines which are known as WCAG 2.0. The discussions went for months, and every concern was taken into account. Each disabled group’s opinions were taken into account. The 3 tier priority list is still in effect but the conditions have been changed, polished or replaced. There are several guidelines also on how to migrate from WCAG 1.0 to WCAG 2.0.
Perhaps you have read till this and is about to close the page out of boredom, then halt!! By complying these you will not be doing any favour to anyone. If you don’t follow these guidelines, you can be sued for discrimination against the disabled sections of the society. There has been cases against companies which were too arrogant to comply these guidelines and they had to settle for a good amount. You would surely not want that, will you?
Therefore it is advisable that you not only study but also follow these guidelines laid down by W3C, which is indeed the care taking big brother of the internet. And now it is backed by Google, Microsoft, Apple, Samsung, HP & Adobe among others. Certainly you wouldn’t mess with them, isn’t it?