[Irl-dean] WCAG 2

Tim Culhane tim.culhane at criticalpath.net
Wed May 31 08:50:44 IST 2006


I've had a read of the article,  and Hear   are some of my comments.

Note firstly that I haven't  read the actual WCAG 2.0 documents,  since I
don't haven't to have a free couple of days at the moment.  Given this I am
taking Mr. Clarke at his word,  and I'm assuming what he says is true and
accurate, and not just the output of somebody who has a personal axe to

Secondly,  I'm not a web developer, but see myself as an experienced user of
the Internet and its various components using access software.

The article outlines 14 reasons why the standard as it currently stands will
not work:

Some of these include:

6. You'll be able to define entire directories of your site as off-limits to
accessibility (including, in WCAG 2’s own example,
all your freestanding videos).

10. You can put a few hundred navigation links on a single page and do
nothing more, but if you have
two pages together
that have three navigation links each, you must provide a way to skip
11. You can’t use offscreen positioning to add labels (e.g., to forms) that
only some people, like users of assistive technology, can perceive.
has to see them.

14. You also have to provide an alternate document if a reader with a “lower
secondary education level” couldn’t understand your main document. (In fact,
maintaining separate accessible and inaccessible pages. In some cases, you
don’t necessarily have to improve your inaccessible pages as long as you
another page.)

Taking points 6 and 14 together, this is going to provide the perfect loop
hole for the continuation of "text only" websites.  Even worse,  developers
of this approach will be able to claim "legitimately"  that they are
adhering to the standards.

Point 10  just does not make any sense, and will lead to sites which are
difficult and time consuming to navigate.

Point 11 will  provide site developers with the excuse of not including
labels at all,  simply because they won't want to "clutter" up their  lovely
websites with extra verbage which is of no use to people without
disabilities, but is essential for people with disabilities.

The article goes on to  discuss the issue of testibility.  Now testing of
websites is a vital and necessary task, and anything that can be done to
make this easier has to be applauded.  However, it appears that WCAG 2.0 is
making such testing  nigh on  impossible:

cited from: http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/complete.html#conformance

All WCAG 2.0 success criteria are testable. While some can be tested by
computer programs, others must be tested by qualified human testers.
a combination of computer programs and qualified human testers may be used.
When people who understand WCAG 2.0 test the same content using the same
criteria, the same results should be obtained with high inter-rater

I Challenge you to get 10 "WCAG experts" into a room to test 1 website for
compliance,  and see if you can get any sort of convergence of opinion.
For god sake,  has the WCAG ever heard of the word "subjective"?

I would also have liked to see more emphasis placed on testing  by those who
are not necessarily WCAG  2.0 experts, as it is  Joe Bloggs on the street
who is going to have to use these websites in the long run.

Finally, as in WCAG 1.0  we have our 3 levels of  compliance.  However,
what you need to do to meet these levels seems confusing and open to

For level 1 compliance you need to achieve "minimum" accessibility.  For
level 2  you need "enhanced" accessibility  and for the holy  graile of
level 3  you need additional accessibility "enhancements"

Just wondering what defines the words in quotations above?

Anyway,  apologies for the  long discourse,   and I only hope that somebody
somewhere will see the light  and we are not condemned to another decade of
trying to encourage web developers to make their sites more accessible,
while at the same time standing on the unstable foundations of a standard
which  attempts to be all things to  all people  but ends up being neither.



-----Original Message-----
From: irl-dean-admin at list.eeng.dcu.ie
[mailto:irl-dean-admin at list.eeng.dcu.ie] On Behalf Of Joshue O Connor
Sent: 30 May 2006 17:30
To: irl-dean at list.eeng.dcu.ie
Subject: [Irl-dean] WCAG 2

Hi All,

I just read the Joe Clark article on WCAG 2 and for those that have not I
highly recommend it.


It is, as usual, very well researched and Joe makes his points well. He does
seem to have 
a few sharpened knives out for the WAI and associated working groups, but I
don't know the details of what went on. Suffice to say, in my opinion, its a
pity that they cannot work together and it would 
be great if they would kiss and make up.

He made several excellent points, especially about the kind of jargon,
techno-babel language used in the guidelines and the, frankly worrying,
trend towards changing label names for specific technologies/terms. The
"guidelines" are now "success criteria" and there is a lot of talk of
"baselines". For me baselines should be left up to John Entwhistle :)

The removal of priority levels is also worrying, as is any implication that
a site need not contain valid (X)HTML. The comparison of DOM outputs also
seems bizarre and a back-to-front way of working. I though that proprietary
DOM's were put to bed and there was a consensus on a standard DOM type by
browser manufacturers. This meant that writing valid code would produce a
"standard" document and all tags referenced in the DOC TYPE would be treated
in a consistent manner. I need to look at this in more detail, on the
surface it seems like a step backwards that will give a confused message to
budding standards compliant developers.

For myself, I have generally made a point of steering clear of reading
specification drafts etc over the years, as I felt that they could be a
black hole in terms of the time it takes to read, parse and understand them.
I did spend some time recently reading the "Understanding WCAG 2" document
and did comment, to this list, as it was my impression at the 
time, favourably about WCAG 2.  However, I just do not have the time to go
through these documents in great detail and must leave it to those who do.
So thanks Joe, as usual a good discussion will ensue.

However, I am inclined in this instance to think it would be worth while to
"help each other understand it" and generally keep the discussion on WCAG 2
alive on this list. If people have observations or points they would like to
make or share, please do. If you are not sure of anything please say so,
there is a hell of a lot of it that I am not sure of!!

So I just wanted to mention this as the call for comments on the draft has
been extended and I personally want to formulate a response that is
measured, in the hope that it will bring the whole thing into clearer focus.

Maybe as a group we could do this also, if people have the time.


Joshue O Connor

Senior Web Accessibility Consultant

Centre for Inclusive Technology (CFIT)
National Council for the Blind of Ireland

Website: http://www.cfit.ie
E-Mail: joshue.oconnor at cfit.ie
Tel: 01 8821980

Irl-dean mailing list
Irl-dean at list.eeng.dcu.ie http://list.eeng.dcu.ie/mailman/listinfo/irl-dean

More information about the CEUD-ICT mailing list