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It is time to upgrade WCAG or abandon harmoization

From: Wayne Dick <waynedick@knowbility.org>
Date: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 12:12:57 -0700
Message-ID: <CAC9gL769SOsPFW6SSg0mVZry2Gx=YrKX8ekiE=+jhh14aYNHQw@mail.gmail.com>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Too many disabilities are left out of WCAG. Cognitive disabilities and low
vision are large groups just to mention two.

The problem with WCAG as it stands is that if it is adopted into national
law, then discrimination against these neglected disabilities becomes legal.

Flexible format is the key as well as a recognition that an accommodation
for one group may create an extra barrier.  Also, while WCAG may be
adequate for the commercial web it lacks the precision required to succeed
in the reading requirements of employment, scholarship or assessment.

A simple example is screen magnification.  The ineffectiveness of this
assistive technology for reading has been well known since 1999 when Legge
showed that 17 to 50% of reading time is consumed in retrace.  Now that
many mainstream readers have attempted to read long documents on a mobile
device with only zoom as a tool, most people know that screen magnification
is not, and has never been, reasonable accommodation.  That is why
developers responded with responsive design.

Also, semantic support in markup is inadequate.  Every print disability
needs more than navigational guidance to read intelligently. Math, a
necessity for much professional employment is simply absent. Yes there are
very few scientists with print disabilities.  There didn't used to be many
wheel chairs on the second floor before elevators.

Now that the web is the comprehensive delivery platform for all literature,
it is time to extend the guidelines to meet the usage needs of all
literature.  WCAG 2.0 is inadequate.

I for one am getting tired of certifying sites as accessible because they
meet WCAG 2.0, even though I cannot use them without hours of work building
special style sheets.  I even have special style sheets to read the w3c
wiki pages and all WAI documents because they enlarge so badly.

It is a sad state of affairs when simply reading the WCAG 2.0
Recommendation is extremely hard for most people with print disabilities.

I have used probably every assistive technology available for print
disabilities to read, certainly more than one in every category.  Well lets
qualify that to all AT since 1960.  So, my claim of inadequacy does not
come from inexperience or ignorance.  I probably spend 20% of my work week
adjusting user interfaces so that I can use them.  Reading professional
content is most difficult.  Semantic markup is inadequate for professional

WCAG did such a good job addressing interactive usage and other fancy
applications.  Maybe the committee thought that reading was so simple, that
it didn't need attention.  Whatever the reason, you have to be really smart
just to read.  Screen readers read the wrong word for abbreviation, pages
don't word wrap, math is locked in graphics, even SVG gives no serious
semantic cues and that is the tip of the iceberg. It is easy to pick on
PDF, but Adobe is not the only problem.  WCAG 2.0 Level AA HTML with CSS is
almost as difficult to read if the material is anything more than an
advertisement.  If the text is complex, Level AA is just not enough support.

Without change it is time to abandon harmonization.  I will be at TPAC.
Maybe we could meet and discuss this.


Wayne Dick
Received on Monday, 20 October 2014 19:13:27 UTC

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