W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-gl@w3.org > October to December 2019

Updating WCAG SCs through erratas, instead of as part of 2.2

From: Wilco Fiers <wilco.fiers@deque.com>
Date: Sat, 19 Oct 2019 22:51:45 +0200
Message-ID: <CAHVyjGOkmyhF1aUTi5VZZhiDFQwsXAQNXyTG0MA+5aMQH7fF-Q@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Patrick H. Lauke" <redux@splintered.co.uk>
Cc: GLWAI Guidelines WG org <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Hey all,

Firstly, I'm creating a separate thread for this conversation, as I don't
want to derail the existing talk about 1.4.11.

The short version of why I'm against changing success criteria in WCAG 2.2
is that success criteria need to be consistent between it's minor versions.
Not doing so causes problems. The way to handle updates to success criteria
is through eratas. Anything that wouldn't be acceptable as an errata,
shouldn't be a change to the SC in the first place.

There is a lot of documentation, audit templates, test methodologies,
tools, etc. that need to serve multiple versions of WCAG 2.x. One example
at the W3C is the quickref, which is linked from both WCAG 2.0 and WCAG
2.1. I'm sure almost everyone on this list uses things like that. Updating
success criteria texts between versions of WCAG causes problems in those

Let's say AG did update SC 1.4.11 in WCAG 2.2. We would also update the
quickref, techniques and understanding docs to reflect that. But those
documents are the same ones used for WCAG 2.1 and 2.0. So the WCAG 2.1 SC
1.4.11 "how to meet" link goes to a page which has a different SC text from
what is in WCAG 2.1 itself. That's problematic. The wording of the success
criteria is the most crucial part of WCAG. People spend whole days
discussing the precise meaning of individual words! Having the normative
text say one thing, and the help say another is likely to create confusion.
One could argue it's even a failure of SC 3.2.4 Consistent Identification.

There are already examples of this. The 2017 WCAG 2.0 errata (
https://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG20/errata/) made a number of changes to success
criteria. Unfortunately those changes were never applied to WCAG 2.0,
showing up in 2.1 for the first time. If you look at SC 1.3.3 in WCAG 2.0,
and follow the "how to meet" link, the word "color" is now in the SC text.
Someone using trusted tester methodology, may really be surprised by this,
because it (based on the language still in WCAG 2.0) explicitly says that
color is not included in 1.3.3 (
Trusted tester isn't the only place I've seen this either.

> If instructions or operating procedures rely solely on:
> - color, then the content FAILS for 13.A for 1.4.1-color-meaning.
> - other sensory information (such as shape, size, visual location,
orientation, or sound), then the content FAILS for 13.B for

Another problem that came from this, is that none of the WCAG 2.1 official
translations have all the changes from the erata in them (at least, they
don't appear to have, given the help of a translation tool). The 1.3.1
"color" add isn't in the Danish and Chinese translations. That's in
documents which went through a rigorous review process. This isn't likely
to be better in all of the thousands of guides, tools and templates that
have these texts in them.

I have no problem updating the language of WCAG success criteria for the
purpose of clarifying them. But those changes should be made to all WCAG
2.x versions, not only to the latest one. By doing this, AG ensures that
documentation and tools like the quickref can be accurate across all WCAG
2.x releases. It is also important that those changes are called out
somewhere, so that if someone does see a difference, they can figure out
where it came from.

Kind regards,


On Thu, Oct 17, 2019 at 11:12 PM Patrick H. Lauke <redux@splintered.co.uk>

> On 17/10/2019 20:09, Wilco Fiers wrote:
> > -1 to this and any other change changing existing success criteria.
> The proposed change does not change the coverage or meaning of the SC,
> it just makes it clearer. I'm not quite seeing why you'd be reluctant in
> this case.
> P
> --
> Patrick H. Lauke
> www.splintered.co.uk | https://github.com/patrickhlauke
> http://flickr.com/photos/redux/ | http://redux.deviantart.com
> twitter: @patrick_h_lauke | skype: patrick_h_lauke

*Wilco Fiers*
Axe for Web product owner - Co-facilitator WCAG-ACT - Chair ACT-R

(image/gif attachment: deque_logo_180p.gif)

Received on Saturday, 19 October 2019 20:52:00 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.4.0 : Thursday, 24 March 2022 21:08:32 UTC