primary reason for the update so soon after WCAG 2.1 relates to the addition of
Success Criteria to support the needs of people with cognitive or learning
disabilities. The WCAG 2.0 standard, while widely adopted, was often viewed as
being week in providing support to people with cognitive disabilities due to
relevant Success Criteria being placed in the rarely implemented Level AAA
compliance. Support was also largely overlooked in the WCAG 2.1 dot release. As
such, the addition of support to the standard is seen as a welcome update.
2.2 draft also features other Success Criteria to provide additional guidance
for users of mobile devices and users of e-books.
the Perth Web Accessibility Camp hosted Australia’s national accessibility
conference OZeWAI to bring a fantastic combined event in my home city of Perth
for the first time. Here’s some of my personal highlights.
There was a great Keynote presentation titled Global Impact of W3C Accessibility Standards on Business and Industryby Karen Myers from W3C. Karen shared about how the W3C is continuing to support the development of web standards through updates with existing standards such as WCAG, and how groups are also working on emerging technologies. Often in Australia there’s a sense of isolation from the work of the international community, and having Karen speak at the conference helped to bridge the Australian community with the international work.
My own presentation followed on from Karen’s lead, discussing my W3C work involvement with the development of the XR User requirements (XAUR). The presentation focused on the W3C work about user needs and requirements for people with disability when using virtual reality or immersive environments, augmented or mixed reality and other related technologies (XR). The presentation focused on a recent working draft that outlines accessibility user needs for XR and their related requirements. This is followed by information about related work that may be helpful to understand the complex technical architecture and processes behind how XR environments are built and what may form the basis of a robust accessibility architecture. It was great to have an opportunity to present work that had only just been approved for release by the APA working group a week earlier.
From a learning perspective there were several presentations that I found really helpful including Matt Putland’s discussion on accessibility law, Ben Long’s children’s book, Vithya Vijayakumare’s excellent presentation on video accessibility and Jason McKee from AccessibilityShield who travelled over from the USA to talk about How the Disabled Built the Internet. Amazing to think that if a few people with disability weren’t included in critical decision-making in the early days of the Internet, things would be very different for us today.
While the overall quality of the presentations were fantastic, the standout for me this year was titled What does peanut butter have to do with accessibility? presented by Gisele Mesnage. The presentation focused on Gisele’s experience in lodging a complaint against Coles, and how the outcome led to Coles not only addressing the accessibility issues with its grocery website, but also won an Australian Access Award for best corporate website as a result. Gisele emphasised that we need to move our laws from ‘smooth’ laws to ‘crunchy’ laws so that companies will make things accessible by default rather than having a need for the complaints process. It was a great talk and even featured peanut butter props!
no PWAC would be complete without The Great Debate. Now in its 7th
year, the topic for the light hearted banter was ‘Emerging Tech makes Web Accessibility
Redundant’. I was on the Affirmative side this year with each speaker having
only three minutes to try to argue their point. As usual it was a lot of fun for
the audience and the participants.
Thanks to the PWAC and OZeWAI committees for what was a great conference. Links to all the presentation videos can be found in the PWAC + OZeWAI Programme listing.