Relationship between Mobile Web Best Practices (MWBP) and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)


W3C Editor's Draft 02 October 2008

This version:
Latest version:
Previous version:
Alan Chuter, Fundación ONCE / Technosite.
Yeliz Yesilada, University of Manchester (WCAG 1.0 pages).


This technical report describes the similarities and differences between the requirements in Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0 (MWBP). See introductory information in Web Content Accessibility and Mobile Web: Making a Web Site Accessible Both for People with Disabilities and for Mobile Devices.

Status of This Document

This section describes the status of this document at the time of its publication. Other documents may supersede this document. A list of current W3C publications and the latest revision of this technical report can be found in the W3C technical reports index at http://www.w3.org/TR/.

This document was developed jointly by the Mobile Web Best Practices Working Group and the Education & Outreach Working Group (EOWG) of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).

Publication as a Working Draft does not imply endorsement by the W3C Membership. This is a draft document and may be updated, replaced or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to cite this document as other than work in progress.

Please send comments on this document to public-bpwg-comments@w3.org (with public archive). Reviewers are invited to consider the following aspects of the document:

This document was produced by groups operating under the 5 February 2004 W3C Patent Policy. W3C maintains a public list of any patent disclosures made in connection with the deliverables of the Mobile Web Best Practices Group and also maintains a public list of any patent disclosures made in connection with the deliverables of the Education and Outreach Working Group; those pages also include instructions for disclosing a patent. An individual who has actual knowledge of a patent which the individual believes contains Essential Claim(s) must disclose the information in accordance with section 6 of the W3C Patent Policy.

Changes since the last version of this document are described in the changelog of updates and modifications, available separately. Comments on this new version are welcome.

Table of Contents


This technical report helps Web developers meet both Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0 (MWBP). It describes the similarities and differences between requirements in WCAG and MWPB. It is primarily designed to help Web developers who have worked with either WCAG or MWBP to learn about the additional requirements in the other.

This document is a companion to WCAG and MWBP; it does not replace either of them. In order to comply with WCAG, you will need to read to WCAG 1.0 or WCAG 2.0. Similarly, see the MWBP document itself to ensure compliance.

WCAG 2.0 was approved in [future date] and W3C encourages organizations to focus on WCAG 2.0 instead of only WCAG 1.0.

The Relationship Between WCAG and MWBP

The relationship between WCAG and MWBP is too complex for a simple mapping table to adequately communicate what developers need to do to meet both. For example, in some cases complying a specific WCAG provision will meet the related MWBP; however, the inverse is not true and complying with the MWBP provision will not necessarily meet the related WCAG provision.

Therefore, this document provides more details on the relationship between WCAG and MWBP. A table that shows some of the general relationship is available in a separate document.

Priorities and Levels

WCAG 1.0 checkpoints are Priority 1, 2, or 3. WCAG 2.0 success criteria are Level A, AA, or AAA.The Mobile Web Best Practices (BP) are not assigned priorities or levels.

How to Use This Document

Please see the following introductory and related information:

This document includes four subpages that each address a different scenario. Most people will use only one of the subpages described below:

If you are not familiar with either WCAG or MWBP, a strategy is to:

  1. Use the table of barriers common to mobile device users and people with disabilities for an overview of the barriers and solutions common to WCAG 2.0 and MWBP.
  2. Become familiar with WCAG 2.0.
  3. Use the WCAG 2.0 to MWBP subpage of this document to learn about the additional requirements in MWBP.
  4. Become familiar with MWBP.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 and
Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0 Together

As described in this document, the two recommendations are complementary. The motivation for adopting them may be different for each (for example, commercial, regulatory, altruistic). It has been described elsewhere that retrofitting existing websites for compliance with another set of non-functional requirements is much more costly than complying during the design and development phases. The cost of late implementation (content repair, staff training, redesigning workflow) seperately may also be much greater than doing both together, due to the synergies between them. So for many projects there are compelling reasons to do both at the same time.

The document Experiences Shared by People with Disabilities and by People Using Mobile Devices shows some of the overlaps between the Recommendations from the users' standpoint.

This section looks at ways in which some of the Mobile Web BPs and WCAG SCs can be addressed together. Future versions of this document may provide detailed guidance on how to approach both Recommendations together. This version provides a brief outline of how it is possible to devise a coherent set of requirements for a given project covering both recommendations together. It is important to understand that WCAG 2.0 success criteria (SCs) are assigned levels, and for this reason compilation of the list of requirements begins with WCAG. The following steps can be used to draw up a list of requirements:

  1. Decide on the WCAG level required for the project and compile a list of the SC that it must meet.
  2. Compare with the list of MWBPs
  3. Using the document From WCAG 2.0 to MWBP 1.0: Making content that meets Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 also meet Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0, identify which MWBPs overlap (completely or partially) with the applicable SCs and those that must be considered alone.

If you have already complied with one of the Recommendations (WCAG 1.0 or 2.0, or MWBP 1.0) and are considering progressing to the another, consult the How to Use This Document section of this page.

For the latest version of any W3C specification please consult the list of W3C Technical Reports.

Experiences Shared by People with Disabilities and by People Using Mobile Devices, eds. Yesilada, Y., Chuter, A., and Lawton Henry, S.
Web Content Accessibility and Mobile Web: Making a Web Site Accessible Both for People with Disabilities and for Mobile Devices, eds. Thorp, J. and Lawton Henry, S.
Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0, eds. Rabin, J. and McCathieNevile, C., November 2006 (see http://www.w3.org/TR/mobile-bp/)
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, eds. W. Chisholm, G. Vanderheiden and I. Jacobs, May 1999 (see http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/WAI-WEBCONTENT-19990505/)
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, eds. B. Caldwell, M. Cooper, L. Guarino Reid and G. Vanderheiden (see http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20)

Appendix B: Acknowledgements

This document was developed by the WAI Education & Outreach Working Group and the Mobile Web Best Practices Working Group. Charles McCathieNevile (Opera Software) also contributed to this document.