What follows WCAG 2.0

Picture of people and words Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure

I just posted this in response to a discussion on LinkedIn and I think its worth posting as a blog post so I will.

What follows WCAG 2.0 ? This is an insightful question.

The way I see it, WCAG and 508 have moved the picture forwards enormously and whilst achieving tight conformance is part of the picture for moving forwards for *some* kinds of products I don't see that as the entire future because on its own it creates inertia and rigidity. We are in changing times and we need flexibility and nimbleness to meet the challenges that will arise.

Technology is advancing and diversifying - that picture seems to be fragmenting. Along with that social and political changes are coming thick and fast. New but volatile markets are coming along rapidly - they come and they go - and requirements are different in each of them. So what follows WCAG 2.0 ? I think we need a new piece of the puzzle - a new paradigm that's of just the right size to take off and give some cohesion to the picture but without locking it down the way conformance work can - something that doesn't tie us into existing organisational structures (not that any of us would be keen to lose our jobs).

In my view such a piece of the puzzle is out there ready to grow - but there is work to do to grow it. Its personalisation - having only a product focus is constraining - beyond a point it cannot allow growth. But there is room for growth (and *much* better delivery of accessibility) with standards focussed not around properties of products but around user needs and requirements, to which products can adapt. This is a piece that could grow to the level that WCAG is now and move us all forwards. IMHO we need two things:

  1. Standard ways to express user requirements to which products can adapt
  2. Joining up of delivery systems across what are currently heterogeneous forms of ICT, from washing machines to ATM's to iphones to laptops to transport information systems.

With these two pieces of infrastructure things can move forwards in a big way.

There's a long way to go but work *is* underway - for example the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure work, components of work towards which can be seen in these places:

I believe this is the paradigm needed to move us forwards from where WCAG has got us to. Anything else would be more of the same and I think everyone would agree that something radical is needed to move things further.

andy heath