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Re: Fwd from Roger Hudson: Your comments on WCAG 2.0 Last Call Working Draft of December, 2007

From: Loretta Guarino Reid <lorettaguarino@google.com>
Date: Sat, 29 Mar 2008 07:54:21 -0700
Message-ID: <824e742c0803290754y7b3f0aecrf57090879da32a56@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Roger Hudson" <rhudson@usability.com.au>
Cc: public-comments-WCAG20@w3.org

Comment 3: accessibility of social networking site content
 Source: http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-comments-wcag20/2008Jan/0014.html
 (Issue ID: 2390)
Original Comment:

During the last few years, there has been an explosion in the use of
social networking sites like Flickr, Youtube and Myspace and it is not
clear how WCAG relates to all this new content on the web. Much of the
content on these social networking sites does not comply with WCAG. It
is probably unreasonable to expect all the users of these sites to be
aware of what is required to make their contributions accessible and
unrealistic to assume that they will have the desire to do so.

When it comes to the accessibility of social networking sites, maybe
we should look more at the processes that allow people to put material
on the web, rather than the final content. That is, everyone should
have the opportunity to participate, for example the process should
allow a blind person as well as a person with cognitive limitations to
set up a blog or a myspace page or put photos up onto Flickr, and then
make this material available to as wider audience as they wish.

The applications (tools) should encourage the users of these sites to
include accessibility features. But if they don't, the application
should degrade gracefully so that the resulting content does not cause
problems for assistive technology users and wherever possible provides
some basic text alternatives derived from the titles or descriptions
provided by the person uploading the content.

Proposed Change:
The issue of the accessibility of user-generated content on social
networking sites should be directly addressed in WCAG. In particular,
there should be guidance about who is responsible for ensuring the
content of these sites is accessible and how this could be best

Response from Working Group:

WCAG describes the properties of a conforming web page, not the
process used to generate the web page. Because there is a mix of
authors on social networking web pages, with the users becoming
authors of parts of their own pages, they are examples of Web pages
which may only be able to make a statement of partial conformance.
(http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/WCAG20/#conformance-partial) The Web site
authors make the standard portions of the Web pages conform to WCAG 2
but they cannot make the full page conform without monitoring it and
fixing any non-conforming content. Those pages would have to be
excluded from a claim of conformance but could state that they would
conform if all contributed content is excluded.

Since such sites are often authoring tools, they should be encouraged
to meet the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines, as well.

Reply from commenter at

There is a vast and rapidly increasing amount of content on social
networking sites and nearly all of it is inaccessible. With my
comment, all I was trying to suggest is that the new WGAG should
recognise this fact and make some suggestions about how to improve the
situation. Dismissing this as a "process" issue doesn't make it go
away. WCAG 1.0 failed to come to grips with non-W3C format material
and we know where that led, what will happen if the W3C fails to come
to grips with this recent phenomenon?

 I feel that in a practical sense, when it comes to the accessibility
of web content there is a qualitative and quantitative difference
between the content of a social networking site like Myspace, and a
site from for example a government department with information that
could be critically important to all web users, including those with

 To return to the Working Group belief that it is acceptable to remove
a provision that is "largely ignored", what happens with WCAG if, for
example the majority of new web content, totally ignores all the WCAG

Response from Working Group  (28 March 2008):

We agree that social networking sites are an important topic. However,
addressing specific technology trends and strategies for making them
more accessible is not the role of the WCAG Guidelines themselves.
Rather, this is the role of the Authoring Tool Accessibility
Guidelines, and WCAG defers to those. This is addressed in the
Introduction to WCAG 2.0.

The concerns you raise regarding social networking are similar in some
ways to your comments about non-W3C technologies. In WCAG 2.0, the
guidelines focus on describing what must be true in order for content
to meet the guidelines. As with different Web technologies, the
requirements for accessibility here are no different for social
networking sites than they are for any other site.

Therefore, we feel that it is very important to keep
technology-specific information as well as information related to the
accessibility challenges that are new Web content separate from the
guidelines. Instead, these topics should be addressed through a
combination of techniques and "application notes" which would provide
guidance for a specific topic. That way, new topics and strategies
that relate to the every-changing Web can be included in the WCAG 2.0
supporting documents as they become available.
Received on Saturday, 29 March 2008 14:55:01 UTC

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