The W3C’s New Accessibility Guidelines

Having waited for nearly 10 years for the newly improved guideline to be finished, are they really any easier to use?

The W3C’s new guidelines remove browser specific references, making them more transferable to other user agents and maybe it’s because I’m used to the old guidelines, but I found it much easier to flick through the checklist and comply when there were 14 basic well worded guidelines.

In fairness, they have broken down the rules in to 4 clear principles, but then the words used to define each of the individual principals are worded to be so generic, so that they can easily be transferred, that they are much harder to read and digest.

Instead of ‘Provide a text equivalent for every non-text element.’, we now have ‘Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.’ I know it makes sense, but you have to think about what it means, before you understand it. You can also read the guidelines that are applied to this principal and they all make sense and are more concrete, but surely it’s part of the guidelines principles that the guidelines themselves are made to make sense to a wider range of people...

Can the W3C honestly say that the following will be easily understood by all those that need to understand them?

Principle 1: Perceivable - Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.

Principle 2: Operable - User interface components and navigation must be operable.

Principle 3: Understandable - Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.

Principle 4: Robust - Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.

Like I said, maybe it’s just because I’m used to the old guidelines and resistant to change, like most of us mere mortals, but I found the old guidelines much easier to use.