From the W3C news archive for 2 July 2009:
XHTML 2 Working Group Expected to Stop Work End of 2009, W3C to Increase Resources on HTML 5
2009-07-02: Today the Director announces that when the XHTML 2 Working Group charter expires as scheduled at the end of 2009, the charter will not be renewed. By doing so, and by increasing resources in the Working Group, W3C hopes to accelerate the progress of HTML 5 and clarify W3C’s position regarding the future of HTML. A FAQ answers questions about the future of deliverables of the XHTML 2 Working Group, and the status of various discussions related to HTML. Learn more about the HTML Activity. (Permalink)
In terms of accessiblity, I believe that HTML 5 will do damage to our goals. However, HTML 5 won’t be widely adopted at first. Since there are some things about HTML 5 that baffle me this is a good thing. Since most Websites must be as compatible as possible we will continue using XHTML, probably for years to come. This will give us a chance to see if HTML 5 goes anywhere. It all comes back to supporting the functionality that we require to convey our messages in as accessible and usable a way as possible. At work at a large university we have a guideline we try to follow: current version minus 1. This keeps us from leaping on technologies before they are proven. When a reasonable percentage of Web materials are HTML 5 and we want the functions that HTML 5 provides, then we’ll think about moving to it. For now, XHTML provides us with a stable platform on which we can provide functional accessibility and usability for all.