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Re: HTML 5 (sic) and A11y

From: Anne van Kesteren <annevk@opera.com>
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2011 11:45:47 +0100
To: "HTML Accessibility Task Force" <public-html-a11y@w3.org>, "Joshue O Connor" <joshue.oconnor@cfit.ie>
Cc: "HTML WG" <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <op.vps6ukcl64w2qv@anne-van-kesterens-macbook-pro.local>
On Mon, 24 Jan 2011 10:28:38 +0100, Joshue O Connor  
<joshue.oconnor@cfit.ie> wrote:
> I just saw Ian Hicksons post on the WHATWG Blog where the HTML 5
> "technology is not versioned and instead we just have a living document
> that defines the technology as it evolves".
> What this move effectively means is that HTML (5) will be implemented in
> a piecemeal manner, with vendors (browser manufacturers/AT makers etc)
> cherry picking the parts that they want. It could be argued that this is
> the way it _already_ is however as a specification isn't a movable feast
> there is more chance for consistency and stability. This current move by
> the WHATWG, will mean that discussions that have been going on about how
> best to implement accessibility features in HTML 5 could well become
> redundant, or unfinished or maybe never even implemented at all.

Browsers have always implemented standards piecemeal because implementing  
them completely is simply not doable. I do not think that accepting  
reality will actually change reality though. That would be kind of weird.  
We still want to implement the features.

> What is implemented will be dependent on where the "living
> specification" is at any point in time. If I am flying in a plane, I
> don't want to know the engineers were still not in agreement about how
> to design the engines after the plane has taken off.

I do not think you can compare hardware design with software design. And  
software for ordinary computers is also at a whole other level than some  
of the software that e.g. NASA is using.

> I think this will mean piecemeal implementation by vendors, with the
> caveat that "the spec is in flux so we can only implement the most
> stable parts of it" which is a perfect get out clause for a poor user
> experience.

Specifications have been in flux forever. The WHATWG HTML standard since  
2004. This has not stopped browsers implementing features from it. E.g.  
Opera shipped Web Forms 2.0 before it was ready and has since made major  
changes to it. Gecko experimented with storage APIs before they were  
ready, etc. Specifications do not influence such decisions.

> This is a disappointing move, and a retrograde step that could well make
> the fine tuning of important accessibility aspects of HTML (5) even  
> harder.
> My 2 cents*

I do not really see how. The W3C is still publishing snapshots though.

> Josh
> [1] http://blog.whatwg.org/html-is-the-new-html5

Anne van Kesteren
Received on Monday, 24 January 2011 10:46:22 UTC

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