Your last edition of Ability (issue 78, summer 2010) was interesting as always, but it contained an important error.
The article about the forthcoming BS8878 standard for web accessibility says: "Work on an earlier version was stopped at the beginning of 2009 when the European Standards Agency (CEN) halted development of web standards in a bid to get common ones across Europe.
“The ban was lifted after it became obvious that member states would not be able to ‘harmonise’ their standards."
But this was not the reason.
The standardisation rules state that a member may not continue the development of a national standard for an area if a European standard is under development for the same area - this makes very good sense as everyone benefits from harmonisation.
In this case CEN was concerned that BS8878 may have conflicted with the output of standards mandate 376 or may have introduced unique national requirements in the UK (i.e. something other than WCAG 2.0).
Once it was understood that BS8878 was only providing guidance and that it referenced WCAG 2.0 for the technical requirements it became clear that the so-called standstill procedure did not apply and the work could continue.
Just about everyone working in this area believes that harmonisation of the technical requirements for web accessibility is essential and is achievable.
It would be good if you could correct the errors because "it became obvious that member states would not be able to ‘harmonise’ their standards" is a very negative and potentially damaging message - and it's wrong.
Technical Relations Manager – North
IBM Executive Staff / Technical Relations Europe