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Formal Recorded Complaint

From: John Foliot <foliot@wats.ca>
Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2007 14:30:48 -0700
To: <steve@w3.org>, <timbl@w3.org>, <jbrewer@w3.org>, <connolly@w3.org>
Cc: "'wai-ig list'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>, <wai-xtech@w3.org>, <public-html@w3.org>, <www-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <003201c7cfcc$3c058060$6e8e40ab@Piglet>

Mr. Bratt, Mr. Berners-Lee, Ms. Brewer, Mr. Connolly,

I am writing today regarding an issue that both shocks and profoundly
disappoints me.  While I understand that to a large extent there is little
that can be done at this point, I personally feel that the issue I am
referring to should be brought directly to your attention, as it indirectly
affects the reputation and public position of the W3C.

As you are no doubt aware, there is much expedited work happening on
"HTML5".  Since the integration of this work into the W3C, there has been a
more public dialogue regarding the shaping of this new specification.  One
group who have sought to jump into the discussion is those who have worked
individually and collectively to advance the cause of Web Accessibility.

Sadly, much of the input that this concerned community has offered to the
principle authors has been often dismissed or argued, and not always in a
productive or positive tone.  In fact it would not be inaccurate to
characterize it as often hostile
[http://www.w3.org/QA/2007/06/html5-call-to-web-professionals.html].

Today, transcripts of the HTML5 Working Groups IRC discussion serve to
illustrate how insensitive and antagonistic these authors are, and how their
whole attitude towards the goals of web accessibility appear to be
marginalized and trivialized.  While comments drifted in and out, I would
point you to [http://krijnhoetmer.nl/irc-logs/whatwg/20070701#l-225] as a
place to start, and read through to (and slightly past) the section
regarding "smell-o-vision", and the comments regarding people who lack a
sense of smell.  While these may be seen as simply innocuous, "private"
comments, the fact that they are publicly recorded and associated to the
HTML-WG should be of concern.

I wish I had simple answers... I wish the web was simple - it's not.  But
when the people who are entrusted to refine, revise, and re-author the web
carry attitudes as illustrated by these semi-personal thoughts/comments, it
cause me, and others who care about web accessibility, to be sad, scared,
disappointed and ultimately frustrated.  If this is how they (members of the
HTML-WG) really feel, will our concerns truly be understood and addressed.
I find it hard to believe that the answer could be yes, and these comments
tend to cement that feeling.

I will leave it to the "Powers-that-be" within the W3C to address this gaff;
I would hope that at the very  least the offending commenters offer a public
apology for their lack of sensitivity.  Moving forward, I truly hope that
web accessibility is properly addressed within the HTML-WG, not as an
also-ran, bolt-on obligation, but as a fully formed mandatory requirement -
not just because some use-case/test-case indicates it's a good idea, but
because treating all humans as equal is a fundamental aspect of humanity -
it needs no further use-case requirement.

Sincerely,

John Foliot
Received on Thursday, 26 July 2007 21:30:57 GMT

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