Re: WCAG compliance question

I too turn off CSS some times to manually inspect a web app, but not for 
all the reasons you mention.  And that is my point. 

It is not the turning off CSS that is the problem, nor do I say that 
turning off CSS can cause the accessibility problems.  I explain that it 
is some success criteria that is or suspected to be failing and turning 
off CSS may help me isolate the problem.  There is now success criteria 
that fails merely by turning off CSS.  So again, if I turn off CSS and the 
functionality and/or the accessibility breaks, then that is not a WCAG 
conformance issue either. 

If CSS is disabled, and there is functionality a user needs in order to 
use a web page, even when coded into the CSS layer, that is of itself not 
a WCAG conformance failure.  I'm saying that a web app can, and many do, 
require that CSS *not* be disabled and still conform with the 38 level A 
and double A success criteria. CSS can be a technology that can be relied 
upon, period.

Maybe this example of an analogy will help illustrate my thought process. 
Many have complained that using tables for layout is an accessibility 
issue, but I have successfully argued that it is not merely using tables 
for layout, but incorrectly using layout with *any technology* that may 
causes the accessibility issue, such as causing the reading order to read 
across the columns or down the rows when that is not the logical order. 
Using plain text in an e-mail with spaces between words to cause a visual 
appearance of columns of text that should be read down the column and not 
across the rows is an example of a problem using plain text technology. In 
others words its not the use of text that is causing the issue, but the 
incorrect use of text and spaces to create a visual only allusion of 
columns that is only understood with vision.  Its not the mere use of 
table layout, nor CSS, nor text that is causing the issue either. Its how 
these technologies are used. 

Turning off CSS is not an accessibility *test*, but turning off CSS can be 
a *technique* that may help debug an accessibility issue.  Does that make 
it any clearer? 
Phill Jenkins, 

From:   Mike Elledge <>
To:     "Durham, Heather" <>
Cc:     Phill Jenkins/Austin/IBM@IBMUS, WAI Interest Group 
Date:   02/26/2016 06:06 PM
Subject:        Re: WCAG compliance question

FWIW, I've found that turning off CSS to be helpful when evaluating a 
website, since it can tell me when positioning is being used correctly, 
text can be enlarged, images are used instead of text, link phrases are 
helpful--just a clean view of things and, as Heather mentioned, whether 
functionality is separate from presentation. 

Back in WCAG 1.0 days being able to use a site with CSS turned off was a 
requirement, which is where I picked up the habit. 


On Feb 26, 2016, at 6:42 PM, Durham, Heather <> 

I believe you may have misunderstood. Disabling CSS is not a requirement, 
but functionality that a user needs in order to use a web page shouldn't 
be coded into the CSS layer, which would then be lost if CSS is disabled.

On Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 3:32 PM, Phill Jenkins <> 
well, the only reference to CSS in 1.3.1that I found is an advisory 
technique to encourage actually using CSS correctly: [red underline 
highlighting added]

Additional Techniques (Advisory) for 1.3.1
Although not required for conformance, the following additional techniques 
should be considered in order to make contentmore accessible. Not all 
techniques can be used or would be effective in all situations.
C22: Using CSS to control visual presentation of text(CSS) 
Using CSS rather than tables for page layout (future link)

nothing abut disabling CSS as a requirement that I could find.
Phill Jenkins, 

From:        "Durham, Heather" <>
To:        Phill Jenkins/Austin/IBM@IBMUS
Cc:        WAI Interest Group <>
Date:        02/26/2016 04:25 PM
Subject:        Re: WCAG compliance question

It is what I understood from this:
WCAG 2.0 ? Level A - 1.3.1 Info and Relationships:
Information, structure, and relationships conveyed through presentation 
can be programmatically determined or are available in text. (Level A)


On Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 2:47 PM, Phill Jenkins <> 
> Here's my take: With CSS disabled, users must be able to view, reach, 
activate and interact . . .

Are you suggesting a new success criteria for WCAG 2.x? 

or is that your individual interpretation? 

Otherwise, where in WCAG 2.0 does it require the web app to work with CSS 

Phill Jenkins,

Heather Durham
Accessibility SQA, HEd
2154 E. Commons Ave.
Suite 4000
Centennial, CO  80122
Learn more at

Heather Durham
Accessibility SQA, HEd
2154 E. Commons Ave.
Suite 4000
Centennial, CO  80122
Learn more at

Received on Saturday, 27 February 2016 01:04:00 UTC