About WCAG 2.1

WCAG 2.1 and ISO/IEC 40500

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG 2.1) is also an ISO International Standard: ISO/IEC 40500:2012. ISO/IEC 40500 is exactly the same as the original WCAG 2.1 standard from the W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). WCAG 2.1 was first released in 2008 and is now adopted and referred to by many organizations and governments. The fact that it is now an ISO standard means that the countries that use the ISO technical standards may adopt WCAG 2.1 by referring to ISO/IEC 40500. If you are already working with WCAG 2.1, you can say that you also work with an ISO standard, namely ISO/IEC 40500 standard.

What is WCAG 2.1 and who is it for?

Internet has become an important tool for everyday tasks. Therefore it is important that all users can access and understand the content of a web page. W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) is an effort to make web pages disability-friendly, and with the ISO/IEC 40500:2012 standard the accessibility for users with disabilities will increase significantly. WCAG 2.1 explains how web content should be accessible to persons with disabilities. These guidelines will help the internet that is more accessible to users with disabilities and will benefit all users. WCAG 2.1 is developed by W3C in collaboration with individuals and organizations throughout the world. The goal is to get a standard for web content that meets the needs of individuals, organizations and governments internationally. WCAG 2.1 is primarily designed for web developers, web authors and web designers etc. In other words, WCAG 2.1 is a technical standard and not an introduction to availability. WCAG 2.1 is a stable technical standard with 12 guidelines which are organized under 4 principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. For each of these four guidelines, there are testable success criteria at three levels: A, AA and AAA.

Universal design in Norway

Universal design should enable websites so everyone can participate. In Norway, universal design of ICT solutions is a legal requirement for both the public and private sectors (Section 18. Special provisions on universal design of ICT in the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act). All new ICT solutions should be universally designed. This means that new websites aimed at the public must built on recognized international standards (ISO/IEC 40500) and they must meet at least 35 of 61 of the success criteria in WCAG 2.0. The public sector must follow , which means that there will be 12 new requirements in addition to the WCAG 2.0 requirements in 2023. Difi (Directorate for Administration and ICT) enforces the law, but does not deal with complaints about discrimination. Individuals, who believe they cannot use a not universally designed ICT solution, can contact the Gender Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud.

WAI is a win-win strategy

Not only users with disabilities take benefits of WAI, WCAG 2.1 and ISO/IEC 40500. In fact, WCAG 2.1 requires compatibility with both current user agents and future user agents. Add that even WCAG 1.0 contributes to better universal design. Examples of this are increased user-friendliness of websites using multi-modality, different learning styles using redundant text/audio/video, more efficient site maintenance with CSS, and faster searching and indexing of content with captioning of audio files support. Therefore, WCAG 2.1 provides user-friendly solutions both now and in the future. It will make the web more usable for all. The conclusion is clear: This benefits all users.

International Symbol of Access


  • ISO (2012-10-12) ISO/IEC 40500:2012 Information technology -- W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 July 2017]
  • Maria Lazarte (2012-10-26). W3C Web content accessibility guidelines become ISO/IEC International Standard. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 July 2017]
  • Shawn Henry (2012-10-15) WCAG 2.0 is now also ISO/IEC 40500!. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 July 2017]
  • Shawn Lawton Henry (2017-03-10) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Overview. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 July 2017]
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  • (2014-05-30). Nye automater og nettsider skal være universelt utformet fra 1. juli. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 July 2017].
  • English | Universell utforming. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 July 2017].
  • Judy Brewer and EOWG Participants. Online Overview of the Web Accessibility Initiative - slide "Accessibility Contributes to Universal Design (Design for All). [ONLINE] Tilgjengelig: [Accessed 4 July 2017].
  • Lovdata (2017-06-15). Act relating to equality and a prohibition against discrimination (Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act). [ONLINE] Available at:§section18. [Accessed 15 January 2018].
  • Tilsynet for universell utforming av ikt. WCAG 2.1-standarden. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 July 2022].

Web Accessibility Initiative