Bruce Lawson of the Web Standards Project alerts us to a consultation document issued by the UK government that will be finalised on 13 November:
Public consultation on Delivering Inclusive Websites
This is a UK government document with teeth. But are they just wobbly dentures? Lawson is highly skeptical about whether the teeth will be used.
Conformance Level "Double-A" of the W3C Guidelines is the minimum level of accessibility for all UK government web sites. (Double-A means all Priority 1 and 2 W3C checkpoints are satisfied.) There's a deadline and a heavy penalty for non-compliance:
Continuing standalone sites must achieve this level of accessibility by December 2008. Websites which fail to meet the mandated level of conformance shall be subject to the withdrawal process for .gov.uk domain names...
Priority 1 checkpoints that directly concern content writers
1.1 Provide a text equivalent for every non-text element
1.3 Until user agents can automatically read aloud the text equivalent of a visual track, provide an auditory description of the important information of the visual track of a multimedia presentation.
2.1 Ensure that all information conveyed with color is also available without color, for example from context or markup.
14.1 Use the clearest and simplest language appropriate for a site's content.
Priority 2 checkpoints that directly concern writers
12.3 Divide large blocks of information into more manageable groups where natural and appropriate.
13.1 Clearly identify the target of each link.
5.3 Do not use tables for layout unless the table makes sense when linearized. Otherwise, if the table does not make sense, provide an alternative equivalent (which may be a linearized version).