Friday, 20 July 2007

MobileOK and Accessibility

Last Thursday (19 July) I gave a short talk to the W3C's Mobile Web Best Practices Working Group in London on the parallels and synergies between mobile Web best practices and accessibility. I also covered the parallels between the needs of users with disabilities and those using mobile devices and explained that knowledge of one W3C Recommendation (WCAG or Mobile Web Best Practices) can encourage adoption of the other. As a result the working group approved creation of a task force to produce a document about it. This post contains the presentation slides, mainly for the benefit of those present at the meeting.

About Web Accessibility

  • Access to Web content and services regardless of ability or disability, or assistive devices used
  • Sensory: Vision, Hearing
  • Motor: Use only keyboard; only mouse; touch screen
  • Cognitive
  • Ageing-related (in ageing population but also children)
  • Technological: old computer, slow connection, mobile device

Other considerations

  • Assistive devices
  • Services and applications
  • Mobile-enabled accessibility services
  • Mobile Text
  • Cost issues
  • Multicultural issues?

What Disabled Mobile Users Do

  • Blind or low vision: Screen reader (eg, Talks,; screen magnifier (eg, Code Factory Mobile Magnifier)
  • Motor disability: Large keyboard (antiquated second-hand phones; DDC?)
  • Hearing: Captions, visual cues for events
  • Cognitive: more time (turn off auto refresh); text easier to understand annotated with images (adaptation);


  • Disabled users have involuntary disability
  • All mobile users have voluntary “disability” due to mobile context that parallels innate disability
  • No mouse (motor disability)
  • No colour on monochrome display (colourblind)
  • Small view area (restricted vision and screen maginfier)
  • No sound, in public place (deafness)
  • No tactile feedback – device put away

Regulatory context

  • Law, eg. Disability Discrimination Act in UK
  • Required for mobile content, too
  • European objectives, Lisbon agenda; Information Society for all. EC Mandate M.376 (public procurement requirements; will be developed by ETSI and CEN/CENELEC) and others under drafting
  • MobileOk not yet (but look at regulation of TV for mobile devices)

What Do Stakeholders Need?

  • Users: Non-discrimination (mobile and disabled users share common cause)
  • Content providers: Advice on how to leverage investment (synergies):
    • in mobileOk compliance to be accessible
    • In accessibility to improve mobile OK-ness

Gaps and Problems

  • Developers may see WCAG and mobileOK as separate and disjoint, missing the synergy and the overlap between them
  • Many similar content development and evaluation processes in both; leads to duplication of effort

What Can MWI (and WAI) Do?

  • Descibe relationship, overlaps and differences (mapping) between MWBPs and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
  • Explain synergies in implementing WCAG and mobileOK together

Benefits for All

  • Save cost, effort
  • Integrated strategy
  • If you understand one set it's easier to learn the other
  • Organization aiming to create accessible Web site may also go for mOK
  • Partial compliance with “other” set: “While you're at it and designing mobileOK site, you could also consider some additional provisions and be WCAG compliant too...”

Three Primary Deliverables

  • Mapping: annotated mapping between MWBP and WCAG
  • Techniques: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Techniques specific to mobile context
  • Gap analysis: in the wider and more modern perspective? May be part of the first deliverable? Including Mobile Web/Internet enabled accessibility applications?
  • Three documents or one?

MobileOK to WCAG Mapping

  • Which mobileOK provisions map to which WCAG provisions?
  • Which WCAG provisions map to which mobileOK provisions?
  • If I comply with some specific mobileOK provisions, which additional provisions do I need to implement to also comply with WCAG (A, AA, AAA)?

Mobile Techniques for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0

  • How to implement mobileOK provisions in a way that also complies with WCAG provisions at the same time?
  • How to implement WCAG provisions in a way that also addresses the mobile Web context at the same time?

Wish-list (1 of 2)

  • Once two primary documents are more stable
  • Business case (not just for accessibility)
  • Education & outreach resources (not just for accessibility)
  • Explanation of how each Mobile Web Best Practice affects disabled users
  • Investigate accessibility of Web content on mobile devices
  • Investigate special needs of mobile users with disabilities

Wish-list (2 of 2)

  • Describe assistive technology used by disabled users with mobile devices (for example screen readers and screen magnifiers).
  • Customised content adaptation for user accessibility preferences.
  • Describe special use cases relevant to disabled users (how disabled users get special benefit from mobile devices).
  • Business benefits of accessibility in mobile context


  • Mobile Web BP WG members
  • WCAG WG members
  • Disabled users, groups
  • Government
  • Not a priority for vendors (not necessarily true!)

Possible Problems

  • WCAG WG tied up with GLs work
  • Can't publicly call for participation until MWBP WG launches TF
  • BPs not stable yet
  • WCAG 1.0 out of date, 2.0 not stable
  • People too busy with other things
  • Percieved as unnecessary
  • Already done elsewhere

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