In short: WCAG 1.0, at least for the next couple of years.
Standards Compliancy - Pro's and Con's.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 are a final Web Standard "W3C Recommendation" and offer many advantages over WCAG 1.0. Blogs like Opera Developer Network suggest to use WCAG 2.0 rather than 1.0 because "[it] is easier and clearer to use, contains test statements (known as Success Criteria), can be applied to all web technologies (and not just W3C technologies like WCAG 1.0) and comes with lots of supporting documentation".
Standards compliancy will benefit your project in many ways, from code maintenance (faster code review/debugging) and repurpose (separate content from presentation) to bandwidth (master stylesheet helps reducing size of individual pages).
On the flip-side standards add load and thus expenses to projects and developers and are controversial in many cases.
Section 508 is a US law
Philosophy aside, Section 508 is a US law that renders above discussion obsolete and needs to be taken seriously. Not directly related but still a wake-up call is Target's non-compliance with the Unruh Civil Rights Act, California Civil Code §§ 51 et seq., the Disabled Persons Act, California Civil Code §§ 54 et seq., and the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181 et seq. which resulted in a six million dollars settlement this month. Sorry to get you down to earth so quickly.
Timeline for Section 508 to adapt WCAG 2.0
508 is undergoing a revision over the next couple years.
The first stage of that was an Advisory committee (TEITAC) that came up with recommendations
The advisory committee contained several WCAG Working group members and both TEITAC and WCAG worked together to harmonize. And, though they weren't completely harmonized (since both changed a bit at the end) all comments from members to access board were to continue harmonization in further steps.
The Access Board's advisory committee on 255/508 (TEITAC) recommended that any new regs harmonize with WCAG 2.0, and the report's own proposed provisions themselves were pretty well harmonized, as Judy Brewer, Gregg Vanderheiden, and others from WCAG were on TEITAC. Expect Access Board action in 2009. View the report here:
Short version is that the recommendation is that 508 be harmonized with WCAG 2.0. You can subscribe to updates from the Access Board (I think, I can't find the link now) at access-board.gov. If you allow 2.5 years from the turning in of the report to the actual date the new guidelines take effect, look for 2011 or so. IIRC, the 2.5 years is how long it took for 508 to really go into effect the first time, but I could be wrong.
Don't get me wrong, W3C WAI (and myself) recommends using WCAG 2.0, instead of WCAG 1.0 but to satisfy the law one needs to comply with WCAG 1.0.
That doesn't mean your company shouldn't prepare for the transition, not at all. To help you move to WCAG 2.0, WAI currently offers the following tutorials/articles:
- How WCAG 2.0 Differs from WCAG 1.0
- Comparison of WCAG 1.0 Checkpoints to WCAG 2.0
- How to Update Your Web Site from WCAG 1.0 to WCAG 2.0
What are your experiences?