Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Overview
Introducing the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), including WCAG 2.0 and WCAG 2.1.
Quick links to resources:
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is developed through the W3C process
in cooperation with individuals and organizations around the world, with a goal of providing a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally.
The WCAG documents explain how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. Web “content” generally refers to the information in a web page or web application, including:
- natural information such as text, images, and sounds
- code or markup that defines structure, presentation, etc.
WCAG 2.0, 2.1, 2.2
WCAG 2.0 was published on 11 December 2008.
WCAG 2.1 was published on 5 June 2018.
WCAG 2.2 is scheduled to be published in 2021.
All requirements (“success criteria”) from 2.0 are included in 2.1. The 2.0 success criteria are exactly the same (verbatim, word-for-word) in 2.1.
All requirements in 2.0 and 2.1 will be included in 2.2. The wording of the 2.0 and 2.1 success criteria will be exactly the same in 2.2.
Content that conforms to WCAG 2.1 also conforms to WCAG 2.0.
And content that conforms to WCAG 2.2 will also conform to 2.1 and 2.0. (This is often called “backwards compatible”.) A website that meets WCAG 2.1 or 2.2 should meet the requirements of policies that reference WCAG 2.0. To put it another way: If you want to meet both WCAG 2.0 and WCAG 2.1, you can use the 2.1 resources and you don’t need to bother looking at 2.0.
WCAG 2.0 and WCAG 2.1 are both existing standards. WCAG 2.1 does not deprecate or supersede WCAG 2.0. W3C encourages you to use the most recent version of WCAG when developing or updating content or accessibility policies.
Who WCAG is for
WCAG is primarily intended for:
- Web content developers (page authors, site designers, etc.)
- Web authoring tool developers
- Web accessibility evaluation tool developers
- Others who want or need a standard for web accessibility, including for mobile accessibility
Related resources are intended to meet the needs of many different people, including policy makers, managers, researchers, and others.
What is in the WCAG 2 Documents
The WCAG 2 supporting technical materials include:
For more details on how these documents are related and how they are linked, see WCAG 2 Documents
Authorized Translations and unofficial translations of WCAG 2 are listed in WCAG 2 Translations
Technical document format
The WCAG, Techniques, and Understanding documents follow the W3C format for technical reports, which has several sections at the beginning, including links to different versions, editors, abstract, and status.
Supplemental guidance provides additional information beyond what is required in WCAG 2. “Making Content Usable for People with Cognitive and Learning Disabilities” helps you increase accessibility for people with cognitive and learning disabilities. It is introduced in Supplemental Guidance: Content Usable
WCAG 2.0 is ISO/IEC 40500
WCAG 2.0 is approved as an ISO standard: ISO/IEC 40500:2012. ISO/IEC 40500 is exactly the same as the original WCAG 2.0, which is introduced above along with supporting resources.
Benefits of WCAG 2.0 as an ISO standard are summarized in ISO in the FAQ
. More information on W3C and the ISO process is in the W3C PAS FAQ
WCAG is part of a series of accessibility guidelines, including the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) and the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG). Essential Components of Web Accessibility
explains the relationship between the different guidelines.
Who develops WCAG
The WCAG technical documents are developed by the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AG WG
) (formerly the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group)
, which is part of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C
) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI
Please share your ideas, suggestions, or comments via e-mail to the publicly-archived list firstname.lastname@example.org
or via GitHub.
Date: Updated 29 April 2021. First published July 2005.
Developed with input from the Education and Outreach Working Group (EOWG
) and the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AG WG
Strategies, standards, and supporting resources to make the Web accessible to people with disabilities.