Body blow to web accessibility guidelines

Paul Boag

Joe Clark has never been shy about his opinions. He has always been a controversial figure but his latest article on “A List Apart” is something else!

Joe Clark is an outspoken and passionate accessibility expert who has been involved in the creation of the next generation of accessibility guidelines (WCAG 2.0). You may therefore be surprised to learn that he has slammed the new guidelines in the strongest terms possible.

Joe Clark has never been shy about his opinions. He has always been a controversial figure but 2.0" href="">his latest article on A List Apart is something else!

In his article on WCAG 2.0, he systematically rips the guidelines to shreds, barely finding a good word to say about them or the body who created them.

The article can be nicely summed up with the following extract:

As such, WCAG 2 will be unusable by real-world developers, especially standards-compliant developers. It is too vague and counterfactual to be a reliable basis for government regulation. It leaves too many loopholes for developers on the hunt for them. WCAG 2 is a failure, and not even a noble one at that.

In short it is a depressing read for anybody that cares about web accessibility. Despite that I would encourage all of you to take the time to read the article.

It leaves you wondering about the future of web accessibility. If Joe is to be believed web developers will have a difficult road ahead as they try and explain to clients that complying with WCAG 2.0 is just not feasible. In turn web site owners are going to be left vulnerable to prosecution without a definitive standard to which they can comply.

The only ray of hope I can find in the whole thing is that perhaps this will encourage website owners (especially those in the public sector) to think beyond checking the WCAG checkbox. Maybe this will make them think about how to really make their site more accessible rather than simply concentrating on covering their collective arses.

Joe is so demoralised with the state of WCAG that he is creating his own working group to create “real world” accessibility guidelines. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with.