Your comments on WCAG 2.0 Last Call Draft of April 2006

Dear William Loughborough ,

Thank you for your comments on the 2006 Last Call Working Draft of the
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0 We appreciate the
interest that you have taken in these guidelines.

We apologize for the delay in getting back to you. We received many
constructive comments, and sometimes addressing one issue would cause
us to revise wording covered by an earlier issue. We therefore waited
until all comments had been addressed before responding to commenters.

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PLEASE REVIEW the decisions  for the following comments and reply to
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satisfied with the decision taken. Note that this list is publicly

We also welcome your comments on the rest of the updated WCAG 2.0
Public Working Draft by 29 June 2007. We have revised the guidelines
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issues, revisions, and rationales for changes is at . Please see for more information about the current review.

Thank you,

Loretta Guarino Reid, WCAG WG Co-Chair
Gregg Vanderheiden, WCAG WG Co-Chair
Michael Cooper, WCAG WG Staff Contact

On behalf of the WCAG Working Group

Comment 1:

(Issue ID: LC-1657)

Item number: 1.1.1

Comment (Including rationale for any proposed change)

The fourth bullet in 1.1.1 says "If non-text content is pure
decoration, or used only for visual formatting, or if it is not
presented to users, it is implemented such that it can be ignored by
assistive technology."

The strong implication is that this provision is there to make for
less "babble" of unwanted descriptions of items with little/no
non-visual intent. This is typically done by using "" (null alt-text)
in place of "alt", "longdesc", whatever and does make for a
less-cluttered audio environment in the case of a screen reader.

Of greater significance is that it erects an exclusionary wall around
a blind user who might be working in a Web Shop and in order to
properly deal with the elements in question would be shut out from
meaningful communication with co-workers.

This should be re-examined from that point of view.

Proposed Change:

"pure decoration" should not be exempt from descriptive mandates via
text. It is OK to make it easy for some blanket filtering, perhaps by
putting "decor" at the
beginning of the alt-text and having the screen reader know therefrom to
not voice that one.

Response from Working Group:

The fourth bullet of SC 1.1.1 requires that "decorative" content be
implemented so that it can be ignored by AT. It is up to the AT to
decide whether or not to ignore it. We agree that it would be useful
for AT to provide different modes or filters, depending on the user's
preference. However, unless the content has been identified as
decorative, the user agent will be unable to provide that choice.

The success criterion in WCAG are intended to cover the normal mode of
operation to an end user. A blind developer working in a Web shop
would probably be able to use different tools to view the content than
an end user (e.g. viewing the source), and so would not be excluded in
the manner suggested.

Received on Thursday, 17 May 2007 23:45:43 UTC