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Should WCAG.NEXT require all functionality operable with a mouse/pointer
For accessbility (in addition to keyboard)?

I inadvertantly created quite a dust up last week when I asked whether our current personas for sighted keyboard only users are overly coarse and simplistic. It created a good discussion although perhaps I gave the impression that keyboard accessbility requirements should be reduced, which was not my intent.

However, it was a positive outcome because accessbility bloggers are now articulating the case for keyboard access much more realistically. The true use case for keyboard access has much more to do with the need for flexibility of access, than a brick wall barrier to mouse (or pointer) use. Now we can begin to raise the profile of people with episodic disability, which is not well understaoon and not well accommodated in law and policy.

If flexibility is what we need, the next question becomes:

Should WCAG.NEXT require all functionality to be accessible to mouse?

WCAG2 requires all functionality to be available with keyboard. That is not going to change in WCAG.NEXT. But what about mouse and pointer? WCAG2 predates mainstream adoption of touch interfaces, particulary on phone or tablet. Our thinking was to help users of assistive technology such as screen readers, Dragon, and scanning, and those with RSI reducing mouse use.

However, in a mobile first world keyboard is sometimes too hard to use for some. It's sometimes impossible for some users with disabilities to drag around heavy Windows based Assistive Technology software with them on their mobile device.

Should we require that all content be accessible using touch or pointer. Given that users need flexibility, I think this requirement makes sense. What do you think? Should we start to propose that WCAG.NEXT include an additional Success Criteria such as:

All functionality of the content is operable through a mouse (or pointer) interface.


We are currently working on our requirements for the next version of WCAG. What do you think?

Feel free to comment on Twitter @davidmacd

Author information:

David MacDonald is a veteran WCAG member, co-editor of Using WAI ARIA in HTML5 and HTML5 Accessibility Task Force Member. Opinions are my own.


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