Accessibility 2: Double Standards?

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Something is either accessible or it isn’t. It is not a matter of degree. A room is closed to you, or open to you: someone halfway through the door is not really in the room at all (even if they might want to get out of it).

Yet there is a genuine question of which accessibility standard you are using. Either the document meets the standard (accessible) or it does not (not accessible), but: which standard?

There are guidelines from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), known as WCAG. They were updated to 2.2 on 14th October, 2022. You can see that a document complies to its AA standard, or to its AAA standard, but clearly, WCAG standards are for online publications. There are other standards, which decide whether a given document works for still further specified purposes.

That makes a kind of sense. The AA standard lets almost everyone into the room, and AAA lets everyone into the room. Both are ‘more’ accessible than closing the room off to people, or not caring whether they enter. If you don’t care about that, people will get out of your document. Yet what matters for compliance with accessibility is which standard, and what purposes. Once you know that, either the document complies, or it does not.

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Proofreader, editor, writer — in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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