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RE: WCAG 2.1

From: Jonathan Avila <jon.avila@ssbbartgroup.com>
Date: Wed, 21 Sep 2016 23:19:03 +0000
To: "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <DM5PR03MB27808A520D3ACF8EB9B1E6179BF60@DM5PR03MB2780.namprd03.prod.outlook.com>
Phil, I had no intention of saying that some criteria were not important to some users.  I agree they are all not just usability issues. They are barriers to users with disabilities.  But as you acknowledge some are items that must be solved by the author while others can be solved through the browser or AT.  The Understanding Conformance document indicates that levels are set based on whether the Success Criterion is essential (in other words, if the Success Criterion isn't met, then even assistive technology can't make content accessible).  So to that degree they carry a greater weight.

So when I used the term important I was thinking more along these lines - some SC are essential because they can't be worked around by AT and thus having the author address these is of greater need.  The term severity or priority would probably also be objectionable.  But knowing which criteria affect multiple user groups and which ones can't be worked around are real world needs that organizations must consider when there is a limited time to fix issues.    Most organizations do have to prioritize issues whether something is a barrier versus something AT can overcome is a realistic factor in helping them make these decisions.    While using the term change level would be best-it carries an ambiguity  - but in the email I was responding to it appeared that there was confusion about what level was the minimum level of accessibility.  Also many organizations are confused when we speak of Level AA conformance and automatically assume incorrectly that excludes level A conformance.  So we do need to find a term that is appropriate and understandable to communicate.  What term would you recommend?


Jonathan Avila
Chief Accessibility Officer
703.637.8957 (Office)

Visit us online: Website<http://www.ssbbartgroup.com/> | Twitter<https://twitter.com/SSBBARTGroup> | Facebook<https://www.facebook.com/ssbbartgroup> | Linkedin<https://www.linkedin.com/company/355266?trk=tyah> | Blog<http://www.ssbbartgroup.com/blog/>
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From: Phill Jenkins [mailto:pjenkins@us.ibm.com]
Sent: Wednesday, September 21, 2016 1:34 PM
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Subject: RE: WCAG 2.1

I do not support of the use of phrases such as "raising" or "lowering importance" or making a success criterion "more" or "less important".  There is a misunderstanding out there about the levels (or its just a misunderstanding in using English to describe things or me in understanding things).  Saying that it is important today or more important tomorrow to conform with the success criteria is a very different concept in my mind that saying that level A success criterion is more important to this end user than a level triple A success criterion is to that other user. Remember that it is the web content accessibility guidelines WCAG , not the end user experience guidelines.  In my opinion all the success criterion are important, period.  Level A and double A and triple A are not about importance, they are about if and when they apply to the web content (vs the browser or AT) and to whom do they benefit.  One of the questions that the working group asked themselves when assigning a level to the success criterion was the following: Does it apply:
        to all the content all the time?
        to all web sites all the time?
        for all audiences all the time?
Another questions that was asked was about whether it is best solved by the user agent (browser and/or AT) or whether it is best solved by or in the web content by the web designer and developers. You can read a wide range of interacting issues that the working group consider in Understanding Levels of Conformance<https://www.w3.org/TR/UNDERSTANDING-WCAG20/conformance.html#uc-levels-head>.

Conformance with triple AAA is not better or more accessibility, it is more responsibility on the author more of the time because its more applicability.  The notion of "higher levels" (not higher importance) of conformance comes from that concept that meeting triple AAA requires passing more, all 65 success criteria, while double AA conformance means passing fewer only 38 success criteria. Level A is the lowest level, meaning it only requires meeting 25 success criteria.  Even the normative WCAG standards says:
"Conformance  This section is normative<https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/#normativedef>. . . . Note 2: It is not recommended that Level AAA conformance be required as a general policy for entire sites because it is not possible to satisfy all Level AAA Success Criteria for some content."

Also, because of conflicts I never recommend requiring many of the Level AAA success criterion all the time on all web content for all users.  Here are 3 examples:

  1.  Conforming to 1.4.6<http://www.w3.org/TR/2008/REC-WCAG20-20081211/#visual-audio-contrast7>Contrast (Enhanced) Level AAA creates a very high contrast site that is distracting and "striking" for some (many?) users.  "The contrast ratio of 7:1 was chosen for level AAA because it compensated for the loss in contrast sensitivity [by some]...users... People with more than [20/80 vision] usually use assistive technologies to access their content (and the assistive technologies usually have contrast enhancing, as well as magnification capability built into them). The 7:1 level therefore generally provides compensation for [some users] who do not [have their] assistive technology. . . ". Therefore, in my opinion, requiring 7:1 contrast level all the time on all content is akin to requiring a one size fits all contrast setting that is not in harmony with the principles of web accessibility and a one size fits one through transformation technologies in the browsers and AT, not provided by the web site owner.

  1.  Conforming to 1.4.9<http://www.w3.org/TR/2008/REC-WCAG20-20081211/#visual-audio-contrast-text-images>Images of Text (No Exception) Level AAA:  would also require no logos, no images of text, no exceptions.  I'm sure SVG is making progress and being adopted in many places, but I do not think we are at a point yet that we can require 1.4.9 on all web sites all the time, hence that is at least one reason it is level AAA. From a cognitive disability perspective, logos help with branding recognition of which website the user is on.  I would never recommend an "East Berlin" look (if you ever visited East Berlin before the wall came down you would know what I mean) for all websites.  However, it could make sense to require this level AAA criterion in some limited cases, for a controlled set of users, such as a set of AT training pages, hence its level AAA.  But I do not believe sighted users with some cognitive disabilities or aging users  would ever benefit.  Most of us are thinking, isn't that the role of the assistive technology, screen readers, etc, for most web sites and the answer is of course, hence level AAA.

  1.  Conforming to 2.4.10<http://www.w3.org/TR/2008/REC-WCAG20-20081211/#navigation-mechanisms-headings>Section Headings Level AAA:  would require section headings, "This provision is included at Level AAA because it cannot be applied to all types of content and it may not always be possible to insert headings. For example, when posting a pre-existing document to the Web, headings that an author did not include in the original document cannot be inserted. Or, a long letter would often cover different topics, but putting headings into a letter would change the letter. However, if a document can be broken up into sections with headings, it facilitates both understanding and navigation".  So you see, in my opinion, section headings are very important to some users for better comprehension, easier understanding, etc.  Its level AAA in my opinion also because of the difficulty of applying it all the time by the web owner.  New simplification and summarization technology is emerging, but we would not want to necessarily change the original content all the time in all cases - hence it would remain a level AAA.

So, moving a success criteria from level A to double A is not necessarily increasing the importance or benefit to all end users any more than moving it from level AA to single A is not lowering the importance or benefit to all end users.   However, moving a success criteria from double AA to single A (or adding a success criteria to level A) *is* about increasing the amount of responsibility and work onto the web content owner and increasing its applicability by requiring the criterion to be applied to all (or more) content, for all (or more) web sites and to all (or more) audiences all (or more) of the time.  Remember that it is the web content accessibility guidelines WCAG , not the end user experience guidelines.  WCAG conformance is about whether the web content conforms to the standard by passing the testable success criteria.  Browsers, AT, and end users settings are all still part of the equation.  There are also
standards for the browser, called the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines UAAG, that  browsers should conform to.  See the discussion on essential components for more background.
Please, lets stop the misunderstanding that WCAG conformance is the end all and that the levels are about importance.

Essential Components of Web Accessibility:  https://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/components.php

WCAG 2.0: Conformance Requirements https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/#conformance-reqs

Understanding WCAG: Understanding Levels of Conformance https://www.w3.org/TR/UNDERSTANDING-WCAG20/conformance.html#uc-levels-head

Phill Jenkins,
IBM Research - IBM Accessibility

From:        Jonathan Avila <jon.avila@ssbbartgroup.com<mailto:jon.avila@ssbbartgroup.com>>
To:        "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org<mailto:w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org<mailto:w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>>
Date:        09/21/2016 08:21 AM
Subject:        RE: WCAG 2.0

>  So you mean in WCAG2.1 some provisions will be raised from  AA to AAA   or   A to AA?
It is my personal understanding that the importance of success criteria in WCAG 2.1 cannot be made less important.  So an A would not go to AA.  WCAG 2.1 by its definition must ensure that if something passes WCAG 2.1 at a given level it would also pass WCAG 2 at the same level.

What is a possibility is that a success criteria might get more important.  So a level WCAG 2 AAA criteria might become WCAG 2.1 AA or a WCAG 2 level AA might become WCAG 2.1 level A.


Jonathan Avila
Chief Accessibility Officer
703.637.8957 (Office)

Visit us online: Website<http://www.ssbbartgroup.com/>| Twitter<https://twitter.com/SSBBARTGroup>| Facebook<https://www.facebook.com/ssbbartgroup>| Linkedin<https://www.linkedin.com/company/355266?trk=tyah>| Blog<http://www.ssbbartgroup.com/blog/>
Check out our Digital Accessibility Webinars!<http://www.ssbbartgroup.com/webinars/>

From: Balusani, Shirisha [mailto:sirib@uillinois.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, September 21, 2016 8:58 AM
To: Gregg Vanderheiden; w3c-wai-ig@w3.org<mailto:w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Subject: RE: WCAG 2.0

*        Level A: For Level A conformance (the minimum level of conformance), the Web page<https://www.w3.org/TR/UNDERSTANDING-WCAG20/conformance.html#webpagedef> satisfies<https://www.w3.org/TR/UNDERSTANDING-WCAG20/conformance.html#satisfiesdef>all the Level A Success Criteria, or a conforming alternate version<https://www.w3.org/TR/UNDERSTANDING-WCAG20/conformance.html#conforming-alternate-versiondef> is provided.

*        Level AA: For Level AA conformance, the Web page satisfies all the Level A and Level AA Success Criteria, or a Level AA conforming alternate version is provided.

*        Level AAA: For Level AAA conformance, the Web page satisfies all the Level A, Level AA and Level AAA Success Criteria, or a Level AAA conforming alternate version is provided.

So you mean in WCAG2.1 some provisions will be raised from  AA to AAA   or   A to AA?



From: Gregg Vanderheiden [mailto:gregg@raisingthefloor.org]
Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2016 11:54 PM
To: Balusani, Shirisha <sirib@uillinois.edu<mailto:sirib@uillinois.edu>>
Subject: Re: WCAG 2.0

You cannot change a normative part of a standard after it has been issued.

There has been some discussion of a new  WCAG 2.1 - and some discussion in that about raising some of the provisions from AA to A   or AAA to AA

but going from AA to AAA would be lowering an SC's level


On Sep 20, 2016, at 10:59 PM, Balusani, Shirisha <sirib@uillinois.edu<mailto:sirib@uillinois.edu>> wrote:

Hi All,
I'm curious to know if the WCAG 2.0's  success level criteria  will be raised from AA to AAA in near future .

Received on Wednesday, 21 September 2016 23:19:42 UTC

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