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I've seen several laudable posts on the network and associated blogs about SE's dedication to accessibility and how that informed the types of affiliate ads allowed:

  • This blog post - "...our effort to make Stack Overflow accessible to all. ...bring our sites closer to conformance with the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA. We are also interested in hearing additional recommendations from you, if you encounter barriers that WCAG AA doesn’t address."
  • This answer - "I care deeply about creating accessible software. As the TeamDAG product manager at Stack Overflow, I want to see us make improvements for a range of users with differing abilities."
  • This answer - "...we will absolutely take all criteria set by the WCAG in mind... Our policy has always been to provide relevant advertising in a minimally obtrusive way... We actively work to prevent ads from harming or impeding our users' ability to navigate our sites. These ads will not be animated or contain any flash which includes the carousel style ads..."
  • This comment - [In response to "will animated ads be allowed"]: "No. Animated ads are still unanimously hated by pretty much everyone.... Ads will still follow all of the rules that we currently have in place."

Now other ads are being tested, and it's a bit demoralising to be told "animated ads will be allowed", with no justification and no reference to the exclusionary effect on accessibility.

Does Stack Exchange have an accessibility policy as some of those posts suggest? If so, can we read it?

Note: This isn't a duplicate of the "We're testing advertisements..." post - it's (partly) in response to it. I have been impressed by SE's commitment to improving accessibility, but allowing animated ads is a backward step in that goal. So I'm seeking clarification on animated page elements vs WCAG 2.2.2 in particular. But I'm trying to be constructive and community-minded by also seeking a broader understanding of SE's position on accessibility in general, because this is an important thing for people with disabilities to know about any site we interact with. Animated page elements are only one aspect of web accessibility and there are many other criteria that visitors to SE who have web-relevant disabilities might want to know about.

  • The only person within SE who claimed to really care (Joe Friend) has quit his job at Stack Exchange and got back to Microsoft. I'm pretty sure there is no policy for accessibility, or any long range plans like he said there would be. Hope to be wrong. – Shadow The Princess Wizard Jul 3 at 6:02
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    @ShaWiz Quite the opposite. We're actively reviewing accessibility concerns on the site and addressing them. – Catija Jul 3 at 6:08
  • @Catija like I said then, glad to be wrong and would love to see this documented and followed through. – Shadow The Princess Wizard Jul 3 at 6:27
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    @Catija I created this question largely because I'd raised animated ads as an accessibility concern (re WCAG 2.2.2) and not had a response. Even when other animated ad questions (not mentioning accessibility) were answered in the same thread. But I'd received such good responses about accessibility re the Affiliate ads last year. It creates the (probably undeserved) impression there's pride about the importance of accessibility and inclusion when SE is doing a good job on it, but then the topic is carefully avoided when not. – autistOfSpot Jul 3 at 8:05
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    I'm not actually aware of how ads relate to accessibility. I'm guessing this is something obvious to you but as I'm not a web designer, I admit to being somewhat clueless. What makes them an accessibility issue? Is making them accessible something the ad company should do? – Catija Jul 3 at 12:25
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    @Catija I think that the point here is that, objectively speaking, ads still impact the accessibility of the site that host them. Now, if that should be something that only the provider of the ads should care about, I am not really sure but I guess anyone has its own opinions on the matter. Be just aware that the users came there to visit a Stack Exchange site, not to watch the ads, so any discomfort they have from the ads, they will probably "thanks" Stack for, be it "simple" visual impediments or more serious issues. – Hitodama Jul 3 at 12:51
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    @Catija Anything that moves on a page without giving the user a way to stop or pause it is a violation of WCAG success criterion 2.2.2. People with certain types of visual processing disability are unable to read the content when things are flashing, scrolling or otherwise moving in our field of vision. Thus, "We will allow animated ads" seems at odds with "We will work to become WCAG compliant". Hence my request for clarification. – autistOfSpot Jul 4 at 0:32
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    @Catija - for instance, flashing ads have the possibility to be a real problem for epileptic users, and can have some serious averse affects. – user58 Jul 4 at 10:18

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