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Protocols group is tasked with exploring the idea and developing language to describe allowing organizations who want to claim WCAG3 Conformance to be able to receive additional benefits (possibly points or another "currency") for implementing additional W3C and external specifications related to accessibility.

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Protocols - Github wiki page for Protocols Topic

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Meeting Minutes

21 January 2022

We continued to try and define what a Protocol is. A few key concepts captured from the call include:

  • "Evaluating your work by"
  • "...methods evaluate outcomes, protocols evaluate objectives¨ seems to be a distinction..."
  • "...we want actual outcomes, which we can approximately recognize..."
  • "Protocols may define their own measurement" (Do we agree?)
  • "Integrating protocols should be done in a way that encourages adoption by legal community" (Do we agree?)
  • "protocol is tool to measure WCAG subjective outcomes" (Do we agree?)

14 January 2022

No decisions today, we are having a fruitful conversation. What we are tackling is very squishy

  • Key question: Should outcomes be scored or reported on? Pros and cons to both.
  • "...the point of protocols is to achieve outcomes that we don't know how to measure."
  • "...protocols are about procedures you use to meet an outcome that is not easily measurable"
  • "...Methods are specific tests looking for specific outcomes. Protocols are about following a process or procedure."
  • "...Protocols evaluate process; Methods measure implementations..."

7 January 2022

A number of agreements were arrived at during the call:

  • Decision: Protocols measures inputs and not outcomes.
  • Decision: Accountability mechanisms are necessary.
  • Decision: For measurement, accountability mechanism of protocols corresponds to measurement mechanism of outcome statement.

Undecided: Accountability of protocols has same visibility as conformance statement, or is part of conformance claim.

17 December 2021

10 December 2021

Summary: We are closing in on a definition of Protocols, with some potential options:

  1. A defining feature of a protocol is that it cannot be consistently measured against a benchmark, but it can use a benchmark as a reference
  2. A defining feature of a protocol is that it cannot be consistently measured against an (outcome | result | desired outcome)

19 November 2021

5 November 2021

1 October 2021

    • Summary: we discussed what makes a protocol, what types of protocols are (should be?) in scope.
      • we discussed VPATs
        • still mostly US-centric, Jake suggested that most EU entities do not use VPAYs, but have different reporting mechanisms
        • Gregg noted that the structure and language of VPATs came from industry, and has been created to say nothing with lots of words - no promises, and no measurability
        • Jake noted a distinction - VPATs are 'conformance', but we could also have a report that speaks to goals and achievements
      • Jake suggested "believe that we should present a fixed set of protocols with use-cases + examples"
      • Jennifer asked "Could WCAG have a "certified list" of protocols, and a process for submitting for review?" (TBD)
      • Jennifer also noted that she uses the word "consideration" - it reduces stigma. Hopes that protocols can address the measurable/testable/repeatable problem by creating a way to pose meaningful questions to evaluate when not M/T/R: questions that give a way of determining impact; empathize with users - protocols help others to imagine that
      • JF noted that this may be part of our definition
    • URLs from the call

Sept. 24, 2021:

Summary: Kick-off meeting. Some broad ideas discussed include

  • we are looking at a framework to integrate Protocols into the larger WCAG 3 effort
  • Gregg proposed we focus on Goals, Hopes, Constraints, Options
  • Rachael suggested that we focus on research and proposals ("...a list of the options with the pros and cons...") for the larger AGWG, but not try to provide final decisions
  • Homework assignment: think about the definition of protocol(s) and point to example(s).

Open questions:

  • Will Protocols "kick-in" at the Bronze or Silver level - impact on regulatory needs?
  • Who can write protocols? (Concerns around gaming the system)



Early Goals

  • Defining "What is a Protocol"
    • Characteristics and Requirements
      • Protocols have common agreement.
      • Protocols are publicly available to all (without fee?)
      • Protocols help motivate organizations to implement accessibility technologies that are not specifically measurable.
      • Protocols can provide a conformance measurement mechanism for processes in addition to measurable outcomes.
      • Protocols are instructional in nature
    • Examples of known Protocols
      • W3C Protocols,
        • Notes from W3C accessibility groups such as Content Usable, Media Accessibility User Requirements, ARIA Authoring Guide
        • W3C TR documents such as ARIA
        • W3C APIs that benefit accessibility and how to measure if the accessibility parts were implemented.
      • Public Protocols,
        • Standards that benefit accessibility from other standards organizations, such as ISO
        • Standards from governments or NGOs. This could be problematic for international harmonization as different groups could develop competing protocols.
        • Process standards, like ISO 9001
      • Specialty/Private protocols
    • Pros
      • Allows organizations to share best practices
      • Allows development of industry specific best practices
    • Cons
      • Organizations could create limited protocols to avoid accessibility practices they don't want to do, like captions.
      • Organizations could create many protocols to get additional points.
      • Organizations could create conflicting protocols that reduce international harmonization
  • Integrating Protocols into WCAG 3 (Assertions?)
    • How to integrate (mechanisms)
      • EARL?
        • Concerns that we could require an format that has not been updated in a long time, rather than setting requirements and allowing groups to choose their format. It's hard to force EARL when people may want JSON.
    • How to 'validate' (accountability)
    • Conformance and Scoring (the why - what is the value?)
      • Should there be one "bin" of scoring, or multiple "currencies"? What supports our requirements for regulatory support and for providing more flexible measures to include more disability needs.
  • Challenges


  • John Foliot (lead)
  • Gregg Vanderheiden
  • Jake Abma
  • Jeanne Spellman
  • Suzanne Taylor
  • Juanita George
  • Jennifer Strickland
  • Rachael Bradley-Montgomery
  • Michael Cooper
  • Shawn Thompson