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Recollection of phone calls on learning disabilities and WCAG 2

One participant in the WCAG Working Group’s late-2006 conference calls on accommodation of cognitive and learning disabilities in WCAG 2 writes (lightly copy-edited):

The first teleconference was essentially aimed at trying to convince us all that there:

  1. wasn’t a way to actually define people with cognitive disabilities
  2. wasn’t any (or enough) research on how to actually help people with cognitive disabilities, if we could actually define them in the first place

Obviously, most of us had problems with both arguments; however, the WG management had stacked the teleconference with people in the area that did back these two claims. (They tended to be the people who didn’t sign the formal objection.) They were obviously skilled in their fields, but not in the Web, and [a principal] argument was always that although we may not know everything that we need to know, we should at least be putting in the guidelines we do know about.

So the first teleconference didn’t really achieve anything, but the second did. [The WCAG Working Group is] considering:

  1. Adding a paragraph stating that people need to look at other guidelines in addition to WCAG2 when building sites for people with cognitive disabilities: Gregg read out this paragraph during the teleconference and quite a few people complained that they couldn’t understand it and that it should be E-mailed around (it hasn’t been as yet). It was fairly light and [some] wanted much stronger wording. [We] asked about where this wording would sit, and requested that it be at the top of the WCAG 2 guidelines and the checklist. (Their suggestion was that it be in the Intro page.) This paragraph would apparently also link to a page that contains links to other guidelines or to further information, which was to be developed by the task force.

  2. Creating a task force to develop further cognitive-disability- related guidelines: [M]ost people seemed unanimous (as in, the vocal people were unanimous) that this shouldn’t affect or delay the release of WCAG 2. Therefore, the additional guidelines were to be developed by this taskforce irrespective of when WCAG 2 was released. [When] asked if these guidelines would be incorporated into WCAG 2 or placed on the page that the paragraph linked to, [we] unfortunately didn’t get a straight answer (so we all know what the answer actually was). [M]oving some guidelines into lower levels [is] apparently... something else the taskforce would look at. However, Gregg would not comment on whether the taskforce would be a subgroup of the current WCAG WG... or an independent task force made up of people on these teleconferences.

[...] There was no agenda for the second teleconference and [no] minutes [have been distributed]. [...]

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Updated 2006.11.29

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