WCAG 2 disregards Web standards

We've been waiting a long time for an update to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines released in 1999. That update is called WCAG 2.0, is supposed to be an improvement, and recently reached Last Call Working Draft status (which I noted in Last Call Working Draft of WCAG 2.0 published).

I have been trying to read WCAG 2 and the documents related to it (Understanding WCAG 2.0 and Techniques for WCAG 2.0). But I just can't get through them since I find them very hard to make sense of. After reading Joe Clark's article To Hell with WCAG 2 I breathed a sigh of relief. The problem is not with me. If Joe Clark finds WCAG 2 too difficult for a standards aware web developer to understand, something is seriously wrong with it. Joe's article is long and detailed, and more or less destroys WCAG 2:

In an effort to be all things to all web content, the fundamentals of WCAG 2 are nearly impossible for a working standards-compliant developer to understand. WCAG 2 backtracks on basics of responsible web development that are well accepted by standardistas. WCAG 2 is not enough of an improvement and was not worth the wait.

I have to agree with Joe. Like I just noted, I haven't managed to read through WCAG 2 and actually understand it. Much of the document is very difficult to understand, and I am very disappointed by WCAG 2's apparent disregard for Web standards. For even more details on the problems with WCAG 2, read Joe's Responses to WCAG 2.0 documents. Joe also notes that we can Abandon all hope of Tim Berners-Lee doing something about the problems with WCAG 2, and issues a Call for response from the Web Standards Project.

Joe Clark is not alone in finding WCAG 2 problematic. According to Lisa Seeman's Formal Objection to WCAG Claiming to Address Cognitive Limitations, the guidelines also fail to address the needs of people with learning disabilities and cognitive limitations.

WCAG 2 is currently a working draft, so it is possible to submit comments (if only for a few more days – you have until May 31 to do so). However I doubt that it will change in any substantial way before it is made a recommendation. The WCAG 1.0 errata that the secret WCAG Samurai are working on will most likely be a much more usable document in the real world.

I can't wait to see what they come up with.

Posted on May 26, 2006 in Accessibility, Web Standards