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 Web Accessibility Standards
 

Origin of Web Accessibility Standards

Two prominent organizations are helping to steer web accessibility standards, prudent assessment techniques and design guidelines.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 were developed by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Many of these provisions ensure access for people with sensory impairments who rely on assistive products such as screen readers or refreshable Braille displays to translate what's on a computer screen into audible or tactile information.

After the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, the Federal Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) was charged with creating the criteria for Section 508 standards. The Access Board consults with Federal Departments and Agencies, the electronic and information technology industry, public and nonprofit agencies or organizations, to issue and publish accessibility standards and Best Practices for meeting them. Criteria for accessible web-based technology and information are based on access guidelines developed by the aforementioned WAI W3C.

Accessible sites not only can change the lives of up to 54 million individuals in the United States alone, they also offer other high tech advantages. For example, sites with “text-only” options provide a faster downloading alternative and can facilitate transmission of web-based data to cell phones and personal digital assistants.


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