Herewith I début a feature I’d been thinking about for years: This Week in WCAG. The title is a tad facetious, as I have better things to do every week than produce a Gawker-style recap. Nonetheless, these occasional postings will update you on the very latest in outrage, intrigue, inanity, and incompetence on the part of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group, with especial focus on one of its cochairs (Gregg Vanderheiden) and the head of WAI (Judy Brewer).

  1. I guess these milquetoasts really are reading me after all, because they’ve voted to ban l33tsp3@k. \/\/C4G v3rily iz teh sux0r111oneoneone

  2. Did you know that the WCAG lists, including the public-comments list, are now home to spam? I never knew that downloadable ringtones had so much to do with Web accessibility!

  3. Were you, at any time, engaged in the delusion that WCAG 2 would be done and published this year? How ’bout ’07?

    Nope: “[C]urrently there are hundreds of comments. At the rate 15 comments a week it will be 12 months to just clear comments alone.”

    Speaking of which, you may be interested to learn that the Working Group charged right ahead with new work during the public-comment period and continues to do so now. Any rational person, particularly a software developer with an understanding of simultaneous use of the same file, would assume that you’d stop changing the document while you’re letting people comment on it. It also stands to reason that you’d then turn around and work on those comments after the comment period closes instead of charging right ahead and changing the document more.

    But, you know, these are Ph.D.s and corporate apparatchiks we’re dealing with, and they have their own way of doing things. It just isn’t the way anyone else in their right mind would do it.

  4. WCAG is really quite chuffed that it’s been named to the Section 508 review panel, about which I’ll have more to say later. Their stated interest is “harmonization” of Web-accessibility standards, which is another way of saying “rewrite 508 so it’s functionally or actually identical to WCAG 2.”

    If WAI has its way, “508” will simply become another numbered guideline. WCAG is to 508 as Iraq was to Kuwait.

  5. Who’s been active on the recent conference calls?

    July 27 20 13
    WAI Judy Brewer, Michael Cooper, Gregg Vanderheiden Michael Cooper, Gregg Vanderheiden
    Academics Ben Caldwell (arguably should be under WAI category, as he is WCAG editor – I know), Sorcha Moore, Christophe Strobbe Ben Caldwell, Christophe Strobbe Sorcha Moore
    Multinationals Becky Gibson, Loretta Guarino Reid (also Working Group cochair – yes, I know), Alex Li, Andi Snow-Weaver Becky Gibson, Loretta Guarino Reid, Alex Li Don Evans, Becky Gibson, Kerstin Goldsmith, Katie Haritos-Shea, Cynthia Shelly, Andi Snow-Weaver
    (includes small businesses)
    Sofia Celic, Roberto Ellero, Katie Haritos-Shea, David MacDonald, Makoto Ueki Sofia Celic, Roberto Ellero, Katie Haritos-Shea, David MacDonald, Gian Sampson-Wild Sofia Celic, Roberto Ellero, Bengt Farre, David MacDonald, Roberto Scano
    Government Bruce Bailey, Tim Boland, Bruce Bailey Bruce Bailey, Tim Boland,

    Now try to guess which attendees align themselves with which voting blocs.

    Oh – you don’t really believe there aren’t voting blocs with something so minor and technical as Web-accessibility guidelines, do you?

  6. If you ran a committee whose job it was to make the Web accessible, shouldn’t you be bending over backwards to ensure that your committee itself is accessible?

    Apart from the massive cost and time commitments, which are not “accessibility” issues per se, the WCAG Working Group isn’t accessible in the disability sense. There are no deaf people active in the Working Group because they cannot be. There is no way to communicate via conference call. (I have asked around with relay services about conference calls; it only works with planned speakers, ideally with a script, and with very slow speech.) And remember, you may never, ever use the IRC backchannel as a substitute.

    But what happens when a member with a learning disability complains – repeatedly – that the meeting minutes are not usable? I mean, they aren’t. Here’s a sample from the last three sets of minutes (as linked before; excerpted and rearranged):

    • Resolution: Send LC-1407 back to team C to look at all techniques related to table layout and create consistent language for F46, H2, H73 and H39
    • Resolution: LC-667, LC-1115, LC-523, LC-690, LC- 1125, LC-1371, LC-914, LC-1112, LC-769, LC-616 accepted by unanimous consent
    • LC-1256 is on hold

    Lisa Seeman’s complaint is that she lacks the specific memory and processing capability to endlessly cross-reference meaningless numbers. She also is careful to state that she has the ability to understand the issues; she’s merely impaired, not stupid.

    The response?

    • Vanderheiden:

      The minutes are intended to record all of the decisions of the group. The context for the decisions, however, necessarily comes from multiple external resources…. If we included all of this (the comments, the proposals, the input from each member, etc.) that we cover in each meeting for each of the 15, 30 or 50 comments that we processed each week, the set of minutes would not be usable by anyone…. [W]e really wish that we did have something other than a number (and shorter than the whole comment) to refer to them by. But we don’t….

      We can’t reduce comments to short phrases[;] it is always one person’s interpretation and simplification of the comment. This is dangerous because it loses much of the comment and colo[u]rs your reading of the comment…. The best we have found is simply to use the comment number which can be looked up easily in the comment database by just typing it in.

      In other words, no, we won’t do anything to solve your problem. In fact, we will restate the problem as a proposed solution.

    • Jason White (a blind person): “It’s more important for the working group to keep that database up to date, as I am sure everyone is trying to do, than to invest extra time working on meeting minutes.”

    So there you have it: The Web Accessibility Initiative openly discriminates against members with disabilities by refusing to provide reasonable accommodation for their disabilities.

Sneak peek for an upcoming instalment!

Which other Invited Expert, present or former, has WCAG also refused to accommodate? News on that shortly.

And if you’re one of the appeasers and apologists who think WAI is pretty good most of the time, terribly well-meaning and misunderstood, and certainly not fundamentally rotten, well, once you read about that case you’re going to completely lose your shit.

Toodles, WAI!

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2006.07.28 13:54. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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