Web Accessibility compliance is often the unknown country for web developers. There are a few cases where it is required (or if specified in the contract and ignored, can change a profitable contract into a major loss leader). A constant problem is looking at the past and not the future – do you really want to deliver a product that will likely violate either the law or standards within a few months? Well, some folks would really want to do so, in order to have the work of updating the sites to conform next year.
The timeline below shows the current state of evolution:
To understand the trend remember the following:
- Section 508 was based on the drafts of WCAG 1.0
- The proposed update of Section 508 was based on drafts of WCAG 2.0
- The Access Board is an ongoing government group that sets the technical details for Section 508. They have the legal authority to update the standards to most, if not all, of WCAG 2.0
Now, if you wish to deliver a STANDARDS based web site, then since WCAG 2.0 is the current standard (WCAG 1.0 is NO LONGER a standard, it has been superceeded) you should target that (which will usually also results in the 1998 508 compliance – with a few exceptions; the exceptions may disappear when the pending updates happen).
That’s it in a snap shot. Suggested further readings are:
- WCAG 2.0
- WCAG 1.0 (historical reference)
- Update of the 508 Standards and the Telecommunications Act Guidelines
- Section 508 Homepage- Electronic and Information Technology
- Title 17 of the United States Code
Additionally, if the web site has a market in different countries then you may have additional regulations. Fortunately, WCAG 2.0 tends to be the superset of such regulations.