WCAG 2.0 Comment Submission

Name: Andrew Harris
Email: andrew@woowoowoo.com
Document: W2
Item Number: Technology assumptions and the 
Part of Item: 
Comment Type: GE
Comment (Including rationale for any proposed change):
Thoroughly disappointed and disillusioned with WCAG 2.

I had hoped all the \'problems\' would be ironed out by this stage, but it seems that they have just become more ingrained.

To be fair, I can see where you\'re heading - that being specific about things like current technologies runs the risk of being outdated in the near future. I can see why you are using abstracted terms like \'Baseline\' and not further emphasising Validation, but in practice it is not going to work.


One of the biggest problems I had with WCAG 1 was the non-measurable stuff. You could run your page through a software checker and it would return some results, but others you had to \'interpret\'. It took a lot of training and practice to get people to understand what these guidelines meant. Most found it too hard. Consequently, the vast majority of people/companies think accessibility is simply \'alt\' text for images.

What the accessibility world is really crying out for is a measurable, detectable, practical standard. One that can be used in day to day work without a great deal of knowledge or training.

WCAG 2 seems to have gone in the other direction. Introducing more jargon, less certainty, more difficulty... it is not going to work.


As an example, the idea of a Baseline has merit. In a perfect world, it would probably work, technologies would be designed up to acceptable standards and companies would work to improve those standards. In reality, this is rubbish. Without a hurdle, no-one will spend money to achieve a reasonable level of accessibility unless they are forced to do it. You cannot leave the \'stating of baselines\' totally in the hands of the provider, or there will be no incentive to improve. Quite apart from that, setting a baseline will require a level of expertise that most providers simply do not have and probably do not wish to acquire.

If you are wedded to the idea of baselines, then the only way it will work in the \'real\' world is if you set \'minimum baselines\' in those media and channels for which there are w3 or other accessible standards. This would ensure that there is always a point of reference to turn to. These \'minimums\' might be documents separate from WCAG, so needn\'t compromise its longevity, but could be easier to update as technologies change - in fact, improving the relevance of WCAG 2 over time.


As a trainer and advocate in my workplace for webstandards and accessibility, one of the most effective tools in aiding understanding is the online validator. The W3 HTML validator or accessibility \'checkers\' like  Bobby or \"Cynthia Says\"... it doesn\'t matter, the user checks their page and gets some feedback about obvious problems. Of course if a page is not valid code, it often can\'t be checked, so one of the most valuable and visible checks on a page is rendered useless.

As I understand it, Valid Code is not recieving the emphasis I believe it should. There are provisions for validating \'Web Units\', but some uncertainty about whether these will be regarded as \'essential\' to any overall level of success.

I always tell people that a valid page is a big first step towards an accessible page, in fact, I think it is essential and should definitely be right up there as a priority 1 checkpoint - or whatever they\'re called now ;-) Validity is measurable, and helps create semantic, well structured data. Make it a minimum!

Proposed Change:
1) Consider publishing accompanying baseline documents to ensure there is a clear, measureable expectation for levels of conformance.

2) Increase the emphasis of validation to published/accepted/measurable standards

Received on Friday, 26 May 2006 06:17:02 UTC