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Archived entry | Matt Wilcox .net

To hell with WCAG2

Since this article was written the WCAG 1.0 + Samurai errata has been released, bringing WCAG 1 up-to-date. I urge you to take a look.

This report by Joe Clark makes for some pretty depressing reading. The WCAG team seem to have utterly lost their way, and sight of their purpose, over the incredibly long time they’ve been hammering this out. WCAG is supposed to help make online content accessible for everyone. If Joe is to be believed (and I’d hedge my bets on him with this) this draft is unworkable, and fundamentally broken. Here are a few gems gleaned from this farcical document:

A future website that complies with WCAG 2 won’t need valid HTML—at all, ever. (More on that later.) You will, however, have to check the DOM outputs of your site in multiple browsers and prove they’re identical.

Joe Clark

So, your HTML - the very infrastructure of a web-page, upon which everything else sits - can be broken tag soup. But your fancy JavaScript writing to the DOM can’t have any errors, and must produce exactly the same output on all browsers. What?!

Your page, or any part of it, may blink for up to three seconds. Parts of it may not, however, “flash.”

Joe Clark

Blink is accessible now? For an entire page to blink too? And what exactly do they mean by blinking is OK, but flashing is not.

You can’t use off-screen positioning to add labels (e.g., to forms) that only some people, like users of assistive technology, can perceive. Everybody has to see them.

Joe Clark

Why? This makes no sense whatsoever.

CSS layouts, particularly those with absolutely-positioned elements that are removed from the document flow, may simply be prohibited at the highest level. In fact, source order must match presentation order even at the lowest level.

Joe Clark

The stupidity of this requirement is mind blowing. The whole point of using XHTML and CSS is to seperate content and structure from how that content and structure is presented. The fact of the matter is that there are times when it is absolutely the correct thing to have a document source order, and to display that document visually in a completely different order. One is more accessible to visually impared people using screen readers, the other to sighted users. If WCAG want us to display content in the same order as it is written in the code, what was the point of separating content from presentation? Was XHTML and CSS, the whole Web Standards Thing, just plain wrong? I don’t think so.

To summarise: WCAG2 - you might as well ignore it completely, in favour of paying attention to the bit of WCAG1 that made sense.
WCAG2 is apparently impossible to implement, near impossible to understand, and just plain wrong in some instances.

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