WCAG 2 Last Call Review Over

June 24, 2006

Topics: Accessibility, Web standards.

June 22nd was the final day to provide comments to the Web Accessibility Initiative. Also, June 22nd was the Croatian "Antifascist Struggle Commemoration Day". It may be a bit unfair to draw a comparison between the WAI and Eastern European fascism, but that’s something we’ll just have to wait and see.

The comments on WCAG 2 were fairly universally negative. Challenges against the WAI’s claim to cover accessibility issues for cognitive and learning disabilities and challenges against the sheer incomprehensibility of the document dominated. Additional problems include complaints about the lack of guidance provided on choosing a baseline:

The section currently provides no guidance to actually choosing a baseline
that can in fact be used accessibly.

I propose that the availability of a user agent which meets level-A
conformance to User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 for the relevant
technology and language be a minimum criterion for the selection of a

Charles McCathieNevile

There can be no question that a document which currently requires 3 additional documents in order to understand the guidelines it purports to be providing is problematic. The fact that it is possible to fully adhere to these guidelines without making a website which is in any way accessible is extremely problematic. The lack of any definition for baseline technology which would require accessibility conformance for that baseline means that any website, by making a choice to adhere to a non-accessible baseline, can neglect any further accessibility efforts.

Clearly, this is not within the spirit of the document – however, no document issued by an authoritative body should depend so greatly on adherence to an abstract "spirit" of the judgement.

At any rate, the document is by no means complete – there is still a possibility that major changes can be made. Most in the accessibility community don’t think this will be the case; thus Joe Clark’s WCAG Samurai. Still, I am an optimist. I want the WAI to be competent, so until WCAG 2 becomes a W3C recommendation I will withhold judgement on that point.