If you have ever been involved in e-learning design and development, you might have often come across people talking about WCAG and Section 508. You must been told that your online courses must comply with the guidelines under WCAG or Section 508. Do you know what they are? WCAG and Section 508 are web accessibility guidelines. Let us read about each one in brief.
What is WCAG?
WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. They are published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). As the name suggests, they comprise a wide range of recommendations for making Web content accessible to a wide range of people with disabilities such as blindness, low vision, color blindness, deafness, speech disabilities, photosensitivity, and combinations of these.
WCAG 1.0 became a W3C recommendation on 5 May 1999. The current version, WCAG 2.0, was published on 11 December 2008, and became became an ISO (International Organisation for Standardization) standard in October 2012 (ISO/IEC 40500:2012).
What is Section 508?
The term “Section 508” used by e-learning professionals refers specifically to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This section was added as an amendment to the Act only in 1986. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, make new opportunities available for people with disabilities, and encourage the development of technologies to help achieve these goals.
A brief comparision of WCAG 2.0 and Section 508:
|WCAG 2.0||Comparison||Section 508|
|Provide text alternatives for any non-text content 1||Similar||A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided 2|
|Provide alternatives for time-based media 3||Similar||Equivalent alternatives for any multimedia presentation shall be synchronized with the presentation. 4|
|Not in WCAG||Web pages shall be designed so that all information conveyed with color is also available without color, for example from context or markup. 5|
|Make text content readable and understandable. 6||Similar||Documents shall be organized so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet. 7|
|Not in WCAG||Redundant text links shall be provided for each active region of a server-side image map. 8|
|Not in WCAG||Client-side image maps shall be provided instead of server-side image maps except where the regions cannot be defined with an available geometric shape. 9|
|Not in WCAG||Row and column headers shall be identified for data tables. 10|
|Not in WCAG||Markup shall be used to associate data cells and header cells for datatables that have two or more logical levels of row or column headers.|
|Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are. 11||Similar||Frames shall be titled with text that facilitates frame identification and navigation. 12|
|Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures. 13||Similar||Pages shall be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz. 14|
|Not in WCAG||A text-only page, with equivalent information or functionality, shall be provided to make a web site comply with the provisions of this part, when compliance cannot be accomplished in any other way. The content of the text-only page shall be updated whenever the primary page changes. 2|
|Maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies. 15||Similar||When pages utilize scripting languages to display content, or to create interface elements, the information provided by the script shall be identified with functional text that can be read by assistive technology. 16|
As you can notice, apart from a few guidelines, all the other elements are common to both WCAG 2.0 and Section 508.
OK, that was the technical part of these standareds. How do you develop e-learning courses that comply with these guidelines? Here are a couple of blogs that can be helpful:
These are great resources and can be a solution for your accessibile e-learning requirements.