Saturday, June 21, 2014

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG 2.0 (MOOC)

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG 2.0 (MOOC)

Offered in Portuguese by the Polytechnic Institute of Leiria, Portugal, via its Up2U platform, this course entitled Knowing the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG 2.0 presents the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines in context. Its authors are Manuela Francisco, instructional designer at the Polytechnic Institute, and Norberto Sousa, accessibility and websites validation consultant.

Content and objectives

The objectives of this course are the followings:
  • To know the legislation in effect, especially in Portugal, and the history of internet accessibility
  • To identify the different web users profiles, and the variety of the possible impairments (auditory, physical, visual, cognitive, neurologic, of the speech) they can be confronted to when they use a site
  • To link the universal design principles to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
  • To understand the WCAG 2.0 structure: conformance levels, principles, guidelines and success criteria
  • To apply the WCAG on web content, and to verify their conformance in a semi-automatic way with help of automatic validators

Development of the course

This course takes only one week, with an official duration of five hours. It starts with a challenge on the forum it is associated with. We have to complete a story with a character depicted as a experience design persona. This is also a way to better know the other students who follow the course.

Then we go to the theoric part of the course which answers its objectives. The texts are not too long, i.e. they do not need more than five minutes to be read and understood. Each of them concludes with a synthesis for a better understanding of its content. A Portuguese automatic validator is shown to us (AccessMonitor), then we are invited to use it with a site of our choice to put in practice the newly acquired knowledge.

At least, we can take the evaluation test, which is a quizz of five questions, with maximum two attempts allowed, and gives entitlement to a Certificate of Participation.

To conclude

The fact that this is a course and not a long form article helps a lot for keeping focused, as we do not know beforehand what will be asked in the end. Usually, when we read a technical article, we are looking for some information and we can neglect most of its content. Whereas in a well-structured course as this one, we also gain a wide vision of accessibility questions, and the relations between WCAG 2.0 and other W3C guidelines such as the User Agent Accessibility (UAAG) and the Authoring Tools Accessibility (ATAG).

If it is always possible to read official texts like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, they still remain quite dry in the end. This is why I do advise this course to anybody interested in web accessibility.

Automatic validators

Here is a short list of free automatic validators for WCAG 1.0 and 2.0 guidelines (feel free to suggest others in the comments):

Suggested readings

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 made easy

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 made easy, by Olga Revilla Muñoz, Itákora Press (2010)
Accessibility Handbook

Accessibility Handbook, by Katie Cunningham, O’Reilly Media (2012)

Connaître les directives WCAG 2.0 (MOOC) (in French)
Conhecer as WCAG 2.0 (MOOC) (in Portuguese)
Las pautas WCAG 2.0 (MOOC) (in Spanish)

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