@media2006 Notes: The New Accessibility Guidelines: WCAG 2.0

The following are my panel notes from @media2006. As I am not the fastest typer I have paraphrased what was said. Should you notice any mistakes please do point them out in the comments for corrections.

Andy Clarke, Patrick Lauke, Gex Lemon and Ian Lloyd
The New Accessibility Guidelines: WCAG 2.0

IL: Not covering everything in WCAG 2.0
focusing on some of the good things and some of the bad.

What's new and how some of these things might be implemented.

AC: It's great to see the room full. Accessibility is often seen as something that has to be complied with I'm going to talk later about how this relates to designers.


All of the panel are members of the WaSP acessbility task force.

Who's read WCAG 2.0? Handsup time.

A brief history of WCAG:

web content accessibility guidelines
Version 1 released in 1999
ancient in internet years and out of date irrelevant

Other accessilibity standards section 508

PAS 78 not the same thing.

WCAG 2 philosophy behind the change

Technology agnostic
not html dos and don'ts
Not tech-specific terminology

Comparing 1.0 and 2.0

Some points have been simplified in 2.o but in some cases the points in 2.0 are more complex than 1.0.

New features:

confirmance clasims
Success criteria and more documentations

PL: Core WCAG 2.0 defines

The 4 principles POUR
New terminology used (rosetta stone?) Invented terms
Confirmance (levels baselines and scoping)
Priciples > guidelines > Success criteria

There are lots of appendices including comparisons between checkpoints in 1.0 and 2.0

The only normative document. there's a lot of supporting documentation.
Understanding WCAG 2
Techniques for WCAG 2
Application notes

These are liable to change, only the main document will remain unchanged.

Understandin WCAG 2.0
For each guideline it explains the intent of the guideline (the problem and why we need to address it)
Advisory techniques
How to meet the Success criteria
Key terms (cheat sheet)
Intent of the SC
Benefits (why it's better)

Techniques for WCAG 2.0

Big unwieldy document at this point.
It starts on these are what people are doing wrong.
Client side scripting
CSS techniques
General techniques
HTML techniques
Server side techniques

Confusingly WAI has link to old General techniques in navigation

About baselines for WCAG 2.0
What are baselines (with examples)
Who sets the base line
How can developers choose a baseline
Examples of conformance claims

Application notes
E.g guide on how to produce accessible forms
Will be produced by the Education and outreach Working Group

Other WAI guidelines

ATAG Authoring Tool accessibility guidelines
UAAG User agent accessibility guidelines. Need UAs to take advantage of accessible content.


Significant features of WCAG 2.0

The baseline is a set of web technologies, CSS, scripting pdf anything that's a technology NOT a UA or abilities or assumptions about the user.

If you meet the success criteria where scripting is in your baseline. Then you can purely depend on javascript to meet that guideline. If the tech is not in you baseline then you would have to use it in such a way that it degrades should that technology not be available.

Baselines could be set at quite a high level. Baselines are a work in progress it's not at last call. The working group would be interested in any list of technologies that help them create the baseline.

One of the places where the baseline can be used is in a conformance claim (optional) you have to state the version of the guidelines that you are adhering to and state a list or range of URLs that adhers to the guidelines.

IL: What's wrong with WCAG 2.0

PL: They state that the guidlines are aimed a long list of people so why are they so hard to understand?

To remain tech agnostic tehy invented a whole new language full of sound and clatter signifying nothing.

Even seasoned experts can't understand it. E.g Joe clark's recent article. Using absolute positioning isn't wrong in every case. The wording of the success criteria are very heavy e.g. programatically determined etc.

Mechanism in WCAG 2.0
"process or technique for achieving a result"

SC 2.4.1 A mechanism is avilalble to bypas blocks of content that are repeated on multiple Web units

On first reading do I need to add Skips links to everything

no even jsut marking up a navigation as a list counts as a "mechanism".

Implementing WCAG 2.0
Study WCAG 2.0 support docs consult your friends on WAI WG and some things may become clearer.

In my job how can I expect web authors to implement WCAG 2.0? Here read this and this see you in a few months.

how I implement 1.0 don't claim compliance.
Own interpretation
And for WCAG 2

Writing own interpretation of WCAG 2.0 making it tech specific to our baseline

IL: Will baselines work?

Understand the rationale
is it just too confusing? In terms as who's going to set them etc.

Someone could make a certain conformance claim and when something comes up they could just change their conformance claim.

GL: If a technology became problematic and they take it out but this technology is required for their content to be accessible then they are no longer accessible


Does WCAG support or hinder design.

WCAG is tech agnostic, i'm guideline agnostic.

Philosophy vs practicality

One of the things we need to wary of with regard to guidelines. We should be producing accessible content for our users not based on what a guidelines. It's not an issue unless it becomes an issue for my users. WCAG 1.0 has been around since 1999 so surely we get it by now. I get worried by Web 2.0 where accessibility is not necessarily built in form the beginning. I wonder where guidelines of this sort will become valuable.

When these guidelines are here. Our work is measured against a set of criteria from a design point of view I don't think this should happen. I have a big issue with the general thrust of where these guideline are going.

joe Clark the 800ib Gorilla

To Hell with WCAG 2.0
has alerted many to issues with WCAG2.0 ( a good thing)
Was is a catalyst for extension?

WCAG Samurai
Closed Group
A good or bad thing?
Could it derail WCAG 2.0?

GL: I imagine the WCAG Samurai will be a good thing as it's people that are genuinely interested in accessibility.

WCAG 2.0 not yet a done deal
But only if you have your say http://tinyurl.com/hmtus (WCAG 2.0 comment form)

PL: Distilling WCAG 2.0 is the best thing to do. Distill it for the SC that apply to your baseline.

IL: There is time to criticise the WACAG 2.0


q: Ultimately it's the user experience that's most important. If you do that does it expose you to threat of litigation.
A: PL: The site needs to be accessible to your users. If after implementing my interpretaion and a user has trouble then I would work with them to fix the site regardless of the guidelines.

Q: What a baseline is wasn't quite clear to me. If someone declares that some video format is their baseline would the WCAG declare SMIL as accessible and give examples as to how that
A: GL: I think it's a political issue they can't exclude a technology. If it's a movie format and they think it's accessible they'd include it but if not there wouldn't be anything negative about it.

PL: SMIL is a markup language that acts a container for multiple formats. E.g a movie format along with a caption. It's a rich media format that allows you to combine multiple files.

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