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27 December 2019

Last
year, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web
Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
was celebrated for the release of its
updated Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 standard, providing additional
guidance to mobile accessibility along with improvements in other areas. This
year has seen additional resources built to support the standard along with
significant updates to advice regarding the accessibility of technologies such
as CAPTCHA. If you haven’t had time to follow all the significant updates of
the W3C WAI this year, here’s a quick overview.

Advice on
inaccessible CAPTCHA Note published

The biggest
W3C WAI news for me personally in 2019 was that after several years of work,
the World Wide Note that I’ve been
involved in relating to the inaccessibility of CAPTCHA
 has been
published. The purpose of this Note is to help developers understand the issues
and implement accessible CAPTCHA solutions. 

As described
by W3C, “First published in 2005 today’s 2.0 publication extensively
updates the earlier version to bring our analysis and recommendations up to
date with CAPTCHA practice today.”

As the
lead editor for the Note, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank fellow
editors Janina Sajka, Jason White and Michael Cooper for the opportunity to be
involved with the update along with the many contributions provided by the
general public during the feedback process. For more information on CAPTCHA and
its impact on people with disabilities, please refer to the excellent ABC
article The
internet thinks you’re a robot, and other ‘dark patterns’ people with
disabilities face online
.

Translation
efforts expanded

This year
saw W3C WAI ramp up its translation of standards and supporting resources into
other languages. As noted in the W3C media release, “Over 20 new translations
of W3C WAI accessibility resources are listed at: All WAI Translations https://www.w3.org/WAI/translations/ 
You can get to that page from the “All Translations” link at the top of WAI web
pages.” This is an extremely important development as prior to this year,
languages such as Arabic were not well supported due in part to the strict
rules that governed translation efforts. The new flexibility around language
translation has expanded the number of people able to undertake this work and
we’ve seen the welcome results of that effort this year.

Accessibility
Conformance Testing (ACT) Rules 1.0 standard released

This year
has also seen the launch of the Accessibility
Conformance Testing (ACT) Rules Format 1.0
 as a “W3C Recommendation”
web standard. 

As stated
in the Recommendation Abstract, “The Accessibility Conformance Testing (ACT)
Rules Format 1.0 defines a format for writing accessibility test rules. These
test rules can be used for developing automated testing tools and manual
testing methodologies. It provides a common format that allows any party
involved in accessibility testing to document and share their testing
procedures in a robust and understandable manner. This enables transparency and
harmonization of testing methods, including methods implemented by
accessibility test tools.” 

It’s
great to see this guidance made available to help provide consistency in the
way online content is tested for accessibility.

Cognitive
guidance for web content reaches first draft

One
aspect of digital access that I get asked about a lot is if there are any plans
to improve the guidance for people with cognitive disabilities. This year marks
the start of what I suspect will be a critical contribution to providing
support in this area, W3C has released a draft document titled Making Content Usable for People with
Cognitive and Learning Disabilities – Working Draft
 to help
provide guidance for cognitive disabilities not generally addressed in other
W3C work. While it is a draft, I’d strongly recommend taking a look at the work
of the COGA Task Force and I’m looking forward to seeing how this work develops
in 2020.

Introduction
to Web Accessibility MOOC commencing in 2020

Speaking
of things to look forward to in 2020, the last announcement I’d like to draw
your attention to is the launch by W3C WAI  of a four-week free self-paced course designed
to provide a basic overview of broad web accessibility concepts designed for
technical and non-technical audiences.

Enrolments
for the course are open now and will be available on 28 January 2020. The
course itself is free but the completion certificate has an additional charge.
While the course is offered worldwide, there are some access restrictions in
select countries.

It’s
great to see W3C WAI build a course from its own excellent curricula resources
and to see some familiar names, including a PCWA Alumnus and one of my former
staff from my Media Access Australia days involved in the project.

Thankyou
for a great 2019

As this
will be my last article for 2019, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone
for your ongoing support of my work including the Centre For Accessibility’s
fantastic Australian Access Awards event. Looking forward to continuing to support
your digital access needs in 2020.

The Centre for Accessibility is a joint project by Media on Mars, DADAA and Dr Scott Hollier and is funded by the Department of Communities, Disability Services.

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