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To Hell with WCAG 2

New W3C accessibility guidelines "nearly impossible to understand"

9:26 am on May 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:Jan 29, 2002
votes: 0

The Bad News:

Accessibility expert Joe Clark in a new article on ALA, "To Hell with WCAG 2" says:

WCAG 2 is not too broken to fix, but we have no reason to think the WCAG Working Group will actually fix it. The Working Group is too compromised by corporate interests, too wedded to the conclusions we see in the current “draft,” too broken in general. What you see in WCAG 2 now is pretty much what you’re gonna get—permanently.

As such, WCAG 2 will be unusable by real-world developers, especially standards-compliant developers. It is too vague and counterfactual to be a reliable basis for government regulation. It leaves too many loopholes for developers on the hunt for them. WCAG 2 is a failure, and not even a noble one at that.

The (Possibly) Good News:

Joe + friends are going renegade:

Maybe all we really need to do is to fix the errata in WCAG 1... I can announce that such errata really are going to be published, and my friends and I are going to do the publishing. After the manner of Zeldman’s CSS Samurai posse, which put CSS layouts on the map for browser makers and developers, the WCAG Samurai [wcagsamurai.org] will publish errata for, and extensions to, existing accessibility specifications.
2:28 am on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from CA 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member encyclo is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

joined:Aug 31, 2003
votes: 6

I find it unfortunate that the issues are clouded in the debate by the ranting style of the article. It does make some important points, but the suggestion that in the end all that needs to be done is fix up the errata on WCAG1 simply doesn't address the fundamental limitations of the WCAG1 recommendations, which are too narrowly-focussed on HTML.

There is a pressing need for accessibility guidelines which address multimedia and scripted content on the web. WCAG2, despite the reservations expressed in the article and elsewhere, does make important moves toward providing an attainable accessibility standard for websites which go beyond simple text and graphics.

One change in WCAG2 is that the new proposed specification is outcome-based rather than merely talking about methodology. I see that as progress, but unless the outcome is measureable how can a developer test for compliance?

I still hope that WCAG2 will be able to address the weaknesses in the current drafts and will become a robust specification against which web developers can validate their accessibility efforts. Surely this would be better than trashing all the work and reverting to patching up WCAG1?


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