This document explains the decision process of the WCAG Working Group.
The Working Group strives to reach unanimous agreement. However, at times this is not possible, and for the sake of continuing to work on important topics the group must arrive at a consensus decision and move forward. In the course of establishing consensus it is critical that all participants have the opportunity to express their views for consideration so that all relevant information can be used in arriving at the conclusion. It is important to clarify the difference between unanimity and consensus as the distinction is relevant. Consensus refers to general agreement, which may not be entirely unanimous, and within the WCAG Working Group consensus can be achieved by responding to and resolving objections from group members through this process.
- Discussion on a topic proceeds until the chairs believe that all points of view have been expressed and the group has considered the variety of information presented. Depending on the topic, this discussion may take a couple of days or a couple of weeks, or more.
- Discussion can take place in any recognized channel of the Working Group including email on the WCAG mailing list, comment threads for GitHub issues or pull requests, or on Working Group calls.
- When the chairs believe that the group is ready to come to a decision they announce a Call for Consensus by email to the Working Group's mailing list. The Call must remain open for a minimum of two working days.
- The Call will contain pointers to the relevant discussion. This may include links to GitHub issues or pull requests, WCAG surveys, email threads, or meeting minutes.
- A resolution recorded in a WG teleconference may precede a Call for Consensus, but it may not replace the official Call for Consensus.
- Issues that are regarded as editorial by the Chairs do not require a Working Group decision in order for the Chairs to address, and thus do not require a Call for Consensus. If there is disagreement by participants on whether something is editorial this can be brought to the attention of the chairs either privately or in the context of the wider group.
- Evaluating the Call for Consensus:
- If no objections are received by the deadline, the draft decision becomes a formal decision of the Working Group.
- If objections are received but the chairs believe the objections have already been considered and addressed and there is an overall consensus, the draft decision becomes a formal decision of the Working Group with objections. Objections are recorded as an appendix to the formal decision.
- If objections are received that the chairs believe present substantive new information, or if the chairs believe there is not a clear consensus in the Working Group they will reopen the discussion.
- The Working Group chairs record the Formal Decisions on the WCAG Decisions page on the wiki.
During discussion on a topic, participants are welcome to raise objections freely to help ensure that all available information can be considered and contribute to the best possible decision. However, when the chairs issue a Call for Consensus, objections should not be raised unless the individual strongly believes the decision is the wrong one in spite of discussion, and the individual cannot "live with" the decision. Compromise on points that the individual considers suboptimal but can "live with" is an essential part of group decisions that must meet various requirements.
If a participant believes the Chairs have not exercised sound judgment in following this policy, they should express their concern first to one of the Working Group Chairs, escalating if needed to the WCAG staff contact, and escalating if needed to the W3C Accessibility Domain Lead.