W3C Finalizes Updates to Accessibility Guidance

Advertising Law

Advertisers, take note—the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has updated its Web Content Accessibility Guidelines in a new publication, WCAG 2.1.

While not the official standard for technical requirements for making websites, mobile apps and other digital content accessible, the W3C’s guidance is an industry touchstone and a common means by which the accessibility of a website is evaluated.

For example, as courts increasingly find that the Americans with Disabilities Act’s (ADA) public accommodations requirements apply online, whether or not a retailer has adopted the WCAG becomes an issue in a case; compliance with the guidance also appears as a term in settlements involving charges of statutory violations.

WCAG 2.1 extends the 2.0 version with new success criteria, definitions to support them, guidelines to organize the additions and a few additions to the conformance section. The 17 additional success criteria were adopted to address mobile accessibility, people with low vision, and people with cognitive and learning disabilities, the W3C explained.

“The Accessibility Guidelines Working Group recommends that sites adopt WCAG 2.1 as their new conformance target, even if formal obligations mention WCAG 2.0, to provide improved accessibility and to anticipate future policy changes,” the W3C suggested.

To read WCAG 2.1, click here.

Why it matters: Advertisers would be well-served to begin working toward compliance with the WCAG 2.1 standard, which will no doubt be referenced in putative ADA class actions filed and will likely find its way into court opinions or regulatory enforcement actions.



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