Re: Response from Accessibility Lawyer on Plain Language in Silver

Plain language can benefit everyone and would be available.  However only having plain language would likely be limiting to making standards technology neutral and measurable in a legal standpoint.


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On Nov 14, 2018, at 12:13 PM, Dale Cruse <<>> wrote:

Thank you for sharing this, David.

I'm really curious about this suggestion: "We would suggest using a mixed Plain Language and Technical language rather than settling on a one-size-fits all model for creating WCAG Silver."

I'm curious why that is. Couldn't plain language benefit everyone?

Thank you,

On Wed, Nov 14, 2018, 3:43 PM David MacDonald <<> wrote:
Hi All

I asked Joshua Stein with whom many of you may be familiar, who's been an accessibility lawyer on many ADA cases, the following question.

"Do you think that the  wording in WCAG 2.x is frustrating to legal proceedings, and that it would be better if we moved to a model that is plain language ? "

Joshua's unedited response which he has given me permission to share with our groups.

1)     From a legal perspective, the courts are currently focused on the end result of website accessibility (i.e., is a website in substantial conformance with the applicable WCAG  success criteria and does it offer individuals with disabilities the same experience as individuals without disabilities?).  Using active vs passive voice within the Guidelines should have a limited direct effect on the legal application of the WCAG as, to-date, the courts are not hearing specific challenges to the WCAG language.  This is likely due to the fact WCAG has not been formally adopted by a government regulator (e.g., DOJ) and, therefore, the Guidelines are not subject to the same legal scrutiny given to Standards promulgated by the federal government that places of public accommodation are required to follow.  Should the legal landscape change, a WCAG Silver “Guidance” document could be created to help clarify any specific legal challenges to the original text/prior versions.

2)     I spoke with our in-house website accessibility team and, from a programmer/tester perspective, the use of plain language within the WCAG would likely improve its overall understandability to a broader audience (developers and designers).  The current WCAG 2.1 language contains a lot of ambiguity which can make it difficult to determine if an issue can/should be categorized under a specific guideline and/or success/failure technique.  However, we also acknowledge some of the technical language currently used is necessary to identify success criteria issues and to describe the steps required to fix the issue.   We would suggest using a mixed Plain Language and Technical language rather than settling on a one-size-fits all model for creating WCAG Silver.  Plain language examples of possible remediation options would likely prove beneficial as well.


David MacDonald

CanAdapt Solutions Inc.

Mobile:  613.806.9005



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Received on Wednesday, 14 November 2018 21:54:53 UTC