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RE: WCAG 1.0 or 2.0?

From: John Foliot <jfoliot@stanford.edu>
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2006 09:38:49 -0700
To: <Anna.Yevsiyevich@kohls.com>
Cc: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <004401c6f2d3$e694f1e0$428e40ab@Piglet>

Anna.Yevsiyevich@kohls.com wrote:
> I read that part too, and that's why I wanted to ask my question
> here.  How many companies are at least thinking of going to 2.0?  How
> many are actively working on it now?  

Better question is: How many companies are even thinking about web
accessibility?  The fact that you are looking at either/both is great!  I
would venture to guess that for the most part, companies are looking at WCAG
1 or the Section 508 Standard. 

Anna, while shooting for a standard or guideline is great, there will also
need to be a point where you will need to think beyond a "checkbox" position
- many accessibility issues transcend black and white, right or wrong
solutions.  Slavish adherence to a guideline does not an accessible site
make - the easiest example to cite is the requirement for ALT text on
images: all too often we see sites that "pass" because the content creator
used "<img src="path to file" alt="graphic" />" - technically a pass, but
practically useless.

> That paragraph also states "Most Web sites that conform to WCAG 1.0
> should not require significant changes in order to conform to WCAG
> 2.0, and some may not need any changes.".   I just want to avoid
> doing the work twice.  So I'm not really sure which one to pursue. 
> Additionally, I'm looking for reasons that I could present to
> management that would convince them to go with one or the other.    

Well, the reasons for going with WCAG 1 have been fairly consistently
> The other question I asked was how long it would take a document
> that's in this stage (last call stage) to become a
> recommendation/standard?  If it will become a standard in the next
> 6-9 months, then it's different from becoming a standard in the next
> 2 years.  

There is no deadline - it will take as long as it takes.  Welcome to the
world of consensus building.

I'm sure that there are members of the WCAG working group that wish it were
done now, but then there are others within the "community" who feel that in
it's current state the document leaves a lot to be desired.  One area of
significant concern is in addressing the needs of those with cognitive
disabilities/impairments; many feel that this user group has been left out
of the "mix". 
> The reason for going with 2.0 now is that we won't have much to
> update, even if the guidelines change and that we'll be current right
> away and for a while.  The reasons for going with 1.0 is that it's
> stable, testable, established, etc.   
> Thought knowing that IBM is going for 2.0 is really good to know.  Is
> IBM 1.0 compliant? 

They are?  That's interesting because currently they have their own internal
guideline [http://www-306.ibm.com/able/guidelines/web/accessweb.html], which
again mirrors both WCAG 1 and Section 508 (with minor variances). Not
wishing to be pedantic, no, IBM do not meet WCAG 1 Priority 2 compliance, as
that page does not pass the W3C validator: WCAG 1 P2 -3.2.  (And I do not
consider being called a pendant an actual insult: "A pedant is a person who
is a formalist or precisionist in teaching or scholarship." - wikipedia)

I think the larger issue here is that "GOING FOR" and succeeding are often
two separate things.  Given the nature of the topic (along with the fact
that doing "the right thing" for some user groups can hurt others) means
that "success" is subjective.  This is a key reason why the WCAG is a
guideline and not a standard.  And while WCAG 2 is an attempt to tighten up
some of the more glaring ambiguities in WCAG 1, you will never have perfect.

It appears that you are trying to put forth a "business case" for your
superiors: this is good.  *If* you succeed (and we all are cheering ya on -
just so ya know), then the next step is to actually try and implement the
goal.  For this single reason, stick with WCAG 1 for now (and go for
Priority 1 and 2 compliance), as it is the most stable mark to try and hit -
it also is in line with other international institutions that have
formalized any kind of compliance benchmark to date.

Good Luck!

John Foliot 
Academic Technology Specialist 
Stanford Online Accessibility Program
Stanford University
560 Escondido Mall 
Meyer Library 181 
Stanford, CA 94305-3093 
Received on Wednesday, 18 October 2006 16:39:20 UTC

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