Preparing for the Future

The best preparation for the coming enhancements to accessibility guidelines and web technologies is to become familiar with the existing standards - particularly XHTML 1.0 and CSS - and adopt them on your web projects. The content of this website was designed to assist you with that goal.

Checkmark icon Note: It is important to the goal of accessibility that developers code with strict adherance to approved standards. Developing to standards ensures content is available to the widest possible audience, including those who may not have access to the latest technology or to a particular browser.

Here's a summary of what we can look forward to in 2007!

New Accessibility Guidelines - WCAG 2.0

Like web technologies, web accessibility guidelines are always evolving and changing. While WCAG 1.0 was considered a good start, it was also acknowledged that the guidelines were imperfect. WCAG 2.0, currently in working draft form, will attempt to address some of the confusion and gaps left by WCAG 1.0.

WCAG 2.0 Highlights

  • WCAG 2.0 applies more broadly to many web technologies and is designed to apply as technologies develop in the future.
  • WCAG 2.0 requirements are more testable (less subjective).
  • WCAG 2.0 provides extensive guidance and success criteria for each guideline.
  • WCAG 2.0 is organized around four design principles of web accessibility. Each principle has guidelines, and each guideline has success criteria at level 1, 2, or 3. The basis for determining conformance to the WCAG 2.0 Working Draft are the success criteria.
  • Four design principles:
    • Content must be perceivable.
    • Interface components in the content must be operable.
    • Content and controls must be understandable.
    • Content should be robust enough to work with current and future user agents (including assistive technologies).

New Web Technologies

Web standards – the foundation of web accessibility – are constantly evolving. Although XHTML 1.0, CSS1, and CSS2 are still in the process of being fully adopted by the web development community (not to mention by a certain browser manufacturer), the next version of these standards – along with several ancillary standards – is being finalized for release.

By adopting strict adherence to web standards now, the transition to these new technologies will be far easier. In fact, we can eagerly look forward to the capabilities they will bring.

XHTML 2.0

The purpose of XHTML 1.0 was to transition HTML into an XML vocabulary. It introduced the constraints of XML syntax into HTML: case-sensitivity, compulsory quoted attribute values, and balanced tags. XHTML 2.0 seeks to address the problems and idiosyncrasies of using HTML as a language for marking up web pages. At the time of this writing, XHTML 2.0 is a Working Draft and is not likely to become a W3C Recommendation until sometime in 2007.

Key Design Goals
  • Use XML as much as possible: Where a language feature already exists in XML, don't duplicate or reinvent it.
  • Structure over presentation: Thanks to CSS stylesheets, you no longer need explicitly presentational tags in HTML.
  • Make HTML easier to write: Remove some of the needless idiosyncrasies of HTML.
  • More accessibility, device independence: Make as few assumptions as possible about the way a document will be read.
  • Improved internationalization.
  • Better form controls (e.g., with built-in validation).
  • Reduced need for scripting: Include typical scripting usages in HTML itself.
  • Better semantics: Make it easier to integrate HTML with semantic web applications.
Some Key Changes
  • New <section> and heading <h> tags to assist with the definition of document structure.
  • Revised "src" attribute: any tag can now reference external content using an src attribute and a valid URI.
  • Extensible semantics: brings more intelligence to document markup allowing artificial intelligence to extract information more easily.
  • XForms: A totally rewritten forms module has these characteristics.
    • Allow separation of form controls from the underlying data model.
    • Pass their results as an XML document to the processing application.
    • Form controls are device-independent by nature.
    • Form validation and input constraint capabilities built-in.
    • Allow multi-stage forms without requiring scripted solutions.

CSS 3.0

Although some browser manufacturers (notably Microsoft) have yet to get CSS 2.0 implemented correctly in their products, the W3C is hard at work on the draft specification for CSS 3.0. The evolution of CSS 3.0 is intended to allow the web developer even further control over visual display of XHTML documents.

CSS 3.0 is scheduled to be released as a series of modules beginning in Spring of 2006. New features in CSS 3.0 include:

  • Multi-column layout (newspaper columns).
  • Resizable boxes.
  • Drop-shadows on text (already implemented in Safari 2.0 for Mac OS X).
  • Rounded corners.
  • Images as borders.
  • Element transparency.
  • Media queries (media-specific display specifications).