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WCAG 2.0 Comments from an Independent Web Developer

From: P.J. Gardner <pjg@gidi.biz>
Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2006 18:43:26 -0400
To: <public-comments-wcag20@w3.org>
Message-ID: <002801c6964d$479bd140$6401a8c0@D2K2GT91>

WAI WCAG 2.0 Working Group:

In an e-mail dated 26 May 2006, called "Extending Deadline on WCAG 2.0 Last
Call Review", Judy Brewer said:

"I encourage you to read the guidelines while they are in Last Call Working
Draft; evaluate them against your own needs and 
expectations; then share with the Working Group your comments on what you
think needs to change in the document."

I want to add my voice to the chorus of people responding to the Last Call
Working Draft.  I already participated as one of the chief authors in a
subcommittee of the AccessAbility SIG of the Society for Technical
Communication that submitted a response earlier today
(http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-comments-wcag20/2006Jun/), but I
also wanted to add some personal notes as a Web Accessibility advocate and
an independent accessible web designer.

I am founder of Boston-IA, a networking organization for web developers, web
authors, and other internet professionals to teach them about accessibility
and advocate to make the web a more accessible place.  I am program director
to bring Knowbility's Accessible Internet Rally (AIR) program to Boston in
2007 to teach individual web developers how to build accessible web sites
for non-profit organizations.  I am a web accessibility consultant, and I
build accessible web sites for small (very small) businesses and non-profit
organizations with small budgets.  I am a career technical communications
professional, I consult with greater Boston businesses in web design and
information architecture, and I am a member of the STC AccessAbility SIG.  I
have a graduate certificate in Accessible Web Design from Northeastern

I know how to build an accessible web site, and I understand the new
technologies that we will be struggling with over the next few years.  But I
think the new WCAG will not help me advocate for accessibility, assess web
sites for accessibility, train people in accessibility, or teach me, any
more than I learned from WCAG 1.0, how to build accessible web sites or how
to consult with the companies who ask me to help them meet accessibility

I think that much of the emphasis of the latest draft of the WCAG 2.0 is
focused on the web development efforts of very large corporations and on the
applications that are being developed under the latest technologies.  I want
to focus again on the people in the trenches who often perform the work of
accessibility on their own.  While the attention of larger organizations may
be focused on accessibility compliance (conformance in WCAG 2.0 language)
because of increasing business pressures, the focus of the small accessible
web developer is on accessibility adherence.  Many of us already want to
make web sites accessible, and we need help spreading the word to fellow
standards-based coders.

Independents are looking to the Web Accessibility Initiative and the Web
Content Accessibility Guidelines for guidance, but our needs as developers
are being lost in the shuffle with the new document.  This surprises me,
given the large number of members of the International Webmaster
Association/Help Writers Guild (of which I am also a member) in the Working

The documents are so cumbersome, and the problems are so firmly entrenched
in the current approach, that my comments about individual items in the
basic WCAG 2.0 document will be hard to communicate quickly, although I will
try to address them in separate e-mails about the individual documents that
support the rather slim WCAG 2.0 (which is really just a table of
contents)--one at a time.  But the basic approach is flawed, and we cannot
make the documents more usable for the independent web developer without a
major redesign.

Please keep in mind the solo web developer, the independent web
accessibility consultant, the people in small web design firms, and in a
non-profit organizations or educational institutions that may want to meet
accessibility standards but have no budget to undertake months-long
accessibility initiatives.  This group needs very basic guidance about how
to build accessible web sites, not guidance on how to comply or how to
establish baseline statements.  We need support to keep convincing people
that web accessibility is worth undertaking, even without a big budget or a
huge staff.

Please help us make the World Wide Web more accessible than it is today.

Best Regards,

P.J. Gardner
Web Accessibility Consultant
Gardner Information Design, Inc. (www.gidi.biz)
Boston-IA (www.boston-ia.org)
AIR-Boston (www.knowbility.org/air-boston)
Received on Friday, 23 June 2006 04:49:19 UTC

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