Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in cooperation with individuals and organizations around the world, to provide a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally.
The WCAG documents explain how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. Web "content" generally refers to the information no a web page or web application, including:
- Natural information such as text, images, and sounds
- Code or markup that defines the structure, presentation, etc.
The WCAG is becoming a globally recognized voluntary consensus standard for web content. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) follows these guidelines for their VPAT documents.
In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requiring Federal agencies to make electronic documents accessible to people with disabilities. Section 508 applies to all Federal agencies when it pertains to electronic and information technology. Government agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to the same or comparable information as they do others.
The U.S. Access Board is responsible for developing accessibility standards that govern Federal procurement practices. January 2017, they issued a final rule that updated accessibility requirements for section 508 and refreshed guidelines to Section 255.
The refresh reorganized Section 508 Standards and Section 255 Guidelines in response to market trends and innovations in technology. The refresh also harmonized these requirements with other guidelines and standards both in the U.S. and abroad, including standards issued by the European Commission, and W3C guidelines know as WCAG.
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