Relationship Between
Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0 and
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

Editor's draft, version 0j, 04 January 2008

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Alan Chuter (Fundación ONCE / Technosite)

Status of this Document

This document is an editors' copy that has no official standing.

This document was developed by the Mobile Web Best Practices Working Group and the Education & Outreach Working Group (EOWG) of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). A record of updates and modifications to this document is available.


This document describes in a general way the relationship between Web content accessibility and making content suitable for mobile Web. It explains the similarities and differences between the two approaches and contains links to other documents that describe in detail the relationships between the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the Mobile Web Best Practices (MWBP).

Longevity and Versioning

This document makes primary reference to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 1.0 and the 11 December 2007 draft of WCAG 2.0 and Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0. New versions of these documents are expected to be produced during the life of this document. New versions of this document should be produced as soon as new versions of the referenced Recommendations are published and well understood.


Readers of this document are expected to be familiar with the creation of Web sites, and to have a general familiarity with the technologies involved, such as Web servers and HTTP. Readers are not expected to have a background in mobile-specific technologies. it is important to understand the other W3C Recommendations to which it refers (see Related Documents of Interest).

Our intention is to make it clear to all involved what the Best Practices are, and hence establish a common basis of understanding. As a result of wishing to be clear to those not already involved in the development of mobile friendly content, some of our statements may appear to be obvious or trivial to those with experience in this area.

The document is not targeted solely at developers; others, such as interaction and graphic designers are encouraged to read it.

Many readers of the document are likely to have a good knowledge of general Web accessibility but are concerned with the problems of persons with disabilities in the mobile context.


This document describes the relationships, overlaps and differences between MWBP and WCAG. This document does not create any further requirements beyond those defined in the MWBP and the WCAG.

Web accessibility for people with disabilities is beyond the scope of this document except where it especially affects mobile users. It is described in WCAG. The needs of users in the mobile Web context is beyod the scope of this document except where it especially affects users with disabilities. It is described in MWBP.

Table of Contents

How to Use These Documents

This document is part of a suite describing the relationship between WCAG and MWBP. There is a general introduction and five other documents. Of the five, you may find that only one will is of interest to you depending on your current situation. At the time of publication there is one version of the MWBP and two versions of WCAG, version 2.0 being a draft.

The Problem of Multiple Overlapping Requirements

Many Web sites have already adopted the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (hereinafter referred to as [WCAG]). WCAG explains how to make Web content accessible to people with disabilities. In many cases compliance with WCAG is mandatory. The Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0 (hereinafter MWBP) document specifies Best Practices for delivering Web content to mobile devices. The principal objective is to improve the user experience of the Web when accessed from such devices.

Increasingly, web content is designed to comply with one of these sets of guidelines or best practices. However, misunderstanding of their requirements and the assumptions about the user and device characteristics on which they are based, leads to less than optimal implementation. This document is intended to serve as an added justification or argument for aiming for compliance with either of the recommendations. The benefits include:

It may be useful for building the business case for adopting either WCAG or MWBP in a web site that already complies with one, or for adopting both together. For accessibility, the Web Accessibility Initiative provides a guidance document Developing a Web Accessibility Business Case for Your Organization.

Separation of Concerns

Accessibility specialists are not generally concerned with the mobile context. Likewise Mobile Web specialists tend not to be concerned with accessibility for persons with disabilities. However they do have common requriements and design principles.


Unlike the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, the Mobile Web Best Practices are not prioritised. MWBP relate to checkpoints of all the WCAG 1.0 priorities (1, 2 and 3).

Why No WCAG to MWBP Mapping Table?

While there appear to be many similarities between many of the WCAG provisions and those of the Mobile Web Best Practices, in reality there are many subtle differences. A simple table would be misleading and lead to duplication of work in some aspects and and inadequate implementations in others. Also the relationships are not symmentrical (SC x relates to BP y, but it does not follow therefore that BP y relates to SC x).

Readers familiar with accessibility and WCAG can not be expected to be aware of the mobile web, mobile devices, infrastructure and the MWBPs. Similarly, Mobile Web specialists can not be expected to have a thorough knowledge of the needs of users with disabilities and assistive technology. More information and guidance is needed.

Testing with Users and Devices

Both the Mobile Web Best Practices and WCAG provide information about the possible barriers to users, and advice about how to avoid them. Compliance does not guarantee usability or accessibility. Barriers may arise other than those described and content providers should avoid them by performing user testing. Other solutions than those described may be found to the barriers. User testing should always include a full range of users, including those with different disabilities.

Comment: Cite the relevant text from each recommendation that advises doing user testing. Does WCAG 2.0 recommend testing with users?