1. Introduction

1.1 Overview

Although it is difficult to accurately quantify the number of people with disabilities, an INSEE survey estimated they represent between 10 and 20% of the population. What seems confirmed by the World Report on Disability published by the WHO in 2010, which considers that approximately 15% of the world population have disabilities. And the number of seniors likely to lose certain abilities with age is increasing. France's approaches to addressing accessibility have taken place in an international context redefining new rights for people with disabilities, with accessibility being elevated to the level of human rights. The United Nations has adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on December 13, 2006, that France has ratified on February 18, 2010.

Note: France signed the CRPD on March 30, 2007, its Protocol on September 23, 2008, and ratified the Convention and the Protocol on February 18, 2008 (source: UN). At the same time, the European Union has drawn up action plans to strengthen the inclusion of disability in the European digital landscape. With the "eEurope 2002 Plan" confirmed by the "eEurope 2005 Plan", the European Commission has integrated the accessibility of people with disabilities and of aging citizens to the information society as a priority of its action.

French law № 2005-102 of February 11, 2005 for equality of rights and opportunities, participation and citizenship of people with disabilities, makes accessibility a requirement for all public online communication services, for State, local and regional authorities and the public institutions that depend on it. The law recognizes the "international recommendations for Internet accessibility" as the reference.

This is why, in application of this law, a General Accessibility Framework for Administrations (the RGAA) is developed. This reference list, with a strong technical dimension, offers an operational translation of the accessibility criteria resulting from the international guidelines, and a methodology to check compliance with these criteria.

If the Internet and Web resources are not accessible to people with disabilities and the elderly, this constitutes an additional factor of exclusion which can aggravate a situation of disability or situations of fragility.

Work has been undertaken internationally to improve the accessibility of Web content, with the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) started in 1996 by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

The WAI defines Web accessibility as follows:

Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the Web. More specifically, Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web, and that they can contribute to the Web. Web accessibility also benefits others, including older people with changing abilities due to aging.

Web accessibility encompasses all disabilities that affect access to the Web, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological disabilities.

The main mission of the WAI is to propose technical solutions to make the Web accessible to people with disabilities. These recommendations called Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG, issued and updated by the WAI, currently form a technical consensus, applied by accessibility practitioners and transposed as an ISO standard since October 26, 2012. In accordance with European recommendations having also recognized WCAG 2.0 as the reference standard, the French law has opted to align the RGAA on these international rules by providing a methodological framework and a technical reference to verify compliance with the WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria.

1.2 Responsibility for the document

The RGAA and its content are properties of the State. They are written by the services of the Minister responsible for the reform of the State, who must respect the conditions for the preparation, approval, modification and publication of the RGAA set by decree.

These include:

Subsequently, the RGAA will be updated after consulting the Minister for the Development of the digital economy and the advice of the National Advisory Council on Disability.

In line with its Mission, the DInSIC organizes and leads the consultation framework for the evolution of the RGAA.

1.3 Organization of the document

This document breaks down as follows:

An accompanying guide specifying the legal framework and the resulting obligations complements this introduction.

2. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) and their translation

The rules for Web Content accessibility proposed in this reference document, are based on the WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0), published by the WAI.

The WCAG 2.0 adopt a thematic approach structured by 12 rules, following 4 fundamental principles:

2.1 Principle 1: Perceivable

  1. Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language;
  2. Provide alternatives for time-based media;
  3. Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure;
  4. Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.

2.2 Principle 2: Operable

  1. Make all functionality available from a keyboard;
  2. Provide users enough time to read and use content;
  3. Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures;
  4. Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are.

2.3 Principle 3: Understandable

  1. Make text content readable and understandable;
  2. Make Web pages appear and operate in predictable ways;
  3. Help users avoid and correct mistakes.

2.4 Principle 4: Robust

  1. Maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies.

The WCAG version used by the RGAA is version 2.0 of December 11, 2008.

The BrailleNet Association coordinated the translation work for the French version. The French translation of the WCAG 2.0 was validated on April 24, 2009 as an authorized translation by the French translation committee and was approved by the W3C on June 25, 2009.

This translation is available at the following address: http://www.w3.org/Translations/WCAG20-fr/.

It includes the translation of the list of Success Criteria, that are normative.

3. The technical document

3.1. General information

In 2014, the RGAA underwent a redesign to be updated and mame more operational, based on the AccessiWeb reference list of the BrailleNet association, whose use licence authorizes the production of modified copies, provided that the source of the original document is cited.

Version 3 of the RGAA is an adapted version of the AccessiWeb HTML5/ARIA reference list in its draft version.

The RGAA technical document is a single document consisting of six sections that are detailed below.

This document, or a link to it, must be included as an appendix to the specifications of any operation for the implementation or redesign of web content.

3.2. List of criteria

As in the previous version of the RGAA, the WCAG Success Criteria have been translated operationally into a list of criteria and tests.

The methodology associated with this new framework is structured according to the following rules:

  1. A criterion or test asks a question;
  2. A criterion or test asks only one question and expects only one answer (note: for a given test this rule may have some exceptions);
  3. When the answer is positive, the criterion is Compliant;
  4. A RGAA criterion is linked to one or more WCAG criteria; its level is deducted from the lowest level of the linked WCAG criteria;
  5. A test or test condition is related to a WCAG technique or to an element of the HTML specification (or associated notes), at least.

The list of criteria starts with an "How to" section explaining how to use the reference document in a technical context based on an HTML version prior to HTML5.

The list of criteria is structured in 13 categories:

  1. Images
  2. Frames
  3. Colors
  4. Multimedia
  5. Tables
  6. Links
  7. Scripts
  8. Mandatory elements
  9. Information structure
  10. Presentation of information
  11. Forms
  12. Navigation
  13. Consultation

For each category, an introductory insert indicates the general accessibility recommendations, in the form of one or two sentences summarizing the objectives of the category.

For each criterion is provided its number, the WCAG level to which it is attached (A, double A or triple A) and the title of the criterion in the form of a question.

Then follows the list of tests detailing the techniques with which the criterion can be met, and links to the associated technical notes if necessary.

Finally, an insert lists the correspondences between the technical guidelines of the RGAA and the WCAG 2.0 as follows:

  1. The list of WCAG 2.0 success criteria (normative) attached to the RGAA criterion;
  2. The list of sufficient WCAG 2.0 techniques and failures (non-normative) associated with the RGAA tests.

3.3. Glossary

To clarify and help understand the technical reference, a glossary defines certain terms.

Each term defined in the glossary is linked directly from the list of criteria. These definitions are an integral part of the reference document and are normative.

3.4. Particular cases

Several RGAA criteria refer to particular cases to clarify the purpose of the criterion, and how it should be applied, by excluding cases that do not fall within the scope of the test. This document lists all the particular cases for which the criterion is not applicable.

3.5. Technical notes

The technical notes provide explanations about certain HTML5 elements that may have variable support, and how the RGAA proposes to handle them.

3.6. Baseline

With the advent of new technologies whose support varies depending on the user agent, and the multiplication of consultation platforms, it is no longer possible to provide a user interface that is both modern and universally accessible.

However, accessibility requires testing to verify that the generated code is compatible with the technologies used by people with disabilities.

The "Baseline" document identifies a set of technologies that require testing to ensure access to content by as many people as possible. This baseline is applicable for any content submitted to the general public or when it is not possible to know what tools will be used to access the content (operating system, browser, assistive technology).

When the site or the application is intended for a public whose equipment is known, the tests must be carried out on a reference baseline, adapted to the context of the controlled environment.

3.7. References

The RGAA technical document was established using a number of references and documentary sources. The document "references" lists the references that have been used.

4. Versioning

The RGAA is a reference document composed of different elements, each originally having its own version number. This double numbering has been dropped, as per the version 3 of the RGAA.

To facilitate traceability, and for now on, each update of any of its constituting documents will lead to a versioning of the RGAA as a whole, and archives of the different versions will be available for download.

Version Date Description
0.99 2008/04/25 Version revised and corrected following the public call for comments. Validated by the accessibility experts panel on September 18, 2007 and published on the Web.
1.0 2008/11/24 Harmonized version in terms of presentation with other reference documents, numbered and dated. Addition of an introduction and a detailed presentation of the Web channel.
Pre-2.0 2009/04/17 Initialization of a new document that cancels and replaces version 1.0 of the RGAA. Restricted diffusion.
2.0 2009/06/03 Redesign of the RGAA structure. Integration of the chapter on Success Criteria and the chapter on the WCAG 2.0 translation.
2.1 2009/07/03 Visual redesign of the RGAA 2.0.
2.2 2009/09/30Update of the following parts:
  • General presentation
  • Document organization
Update of the deducted WCAG levels based on WCAG 2.0. Consistency check with the companion document.
2.2.1 2009/11/16 Correction of the category list in the paragraph "4. Unit tests" (correct list in the annex).
3.0 2015/04/29 Major update. See the companion guide for details on the changes.
3 2016 2016/06/23 Updated content and presentation.