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Re: Accessibility Tests For Stanca Act

From: Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>
Date: Mon, 03 Apr 2006 14:46:21 +0200
To: "Christophe Strobbe" <christophe.strobbe@esat.kuleuven.be>, public-wai-ert@w3.org
Message-ID: <op.s7fm3jnqwxe0ny@pc031.coreteam.oslo.opera.com>

On Fri, 31 Mar 2006 10:27:29 +0200, Christophe Strobbe  
<christophe.strobbe@esat.kuleuven.be> wrote:

> I understand why you find it ridiculous, but normative documents
> have to be unambiguous without our own guesses about the intention
> of the WCAG Working Group. This is one of the reasons why the WCAG WG
> spends so much time on closing potential loopholes in the WCAG 2.0
> success criteria and the glossary. I know at least one success criterion
> that was removed when it appeared that it was unreasonable to implement
> when all loopholes were removed (in GL 3.1: meaning of each word...).

Unambiguous is a relative thing. If people are looking for loopholes, then  
the only way to make it impossible to find them is to stop using such an  
imprecise and unreliable tool as natural language (especially one so  
ill-suited to to technical precision as english) and use a mathematical  
formalism that actually describes something unambiguously.

If we insist on using natural language, then we have to insist on not  
looking for loopholes as part of the process of interpreting. Otherwise  
people waste valuable and expensive group time on the pointless exercise  
of trying to get watertight expressions.

Courts dealing with really critical stuff (million dollar cases, life and  
death) understand this question, and have enshrined in their basic  
processes the notion of a reasonable interpretation*. The idea that a  
lawyer can find some weaselly way of interpreting the language that makes  
no real sense, but is technically justifiable, only arises in a situation  
where the notion of a reasonable interpretation has been dropped. Even  
countries which pride themselves on their code law (France, Italy, and a  
number of other European systems) in practice have a body of precedent and  
guides to reasonable interpretation.

So where does this leave us? If we can make a few tests for something, and  
agree that they test the obvious interpretation of some requirement, then  
the requirement is sufficiently clear. If we start looking for some  
weaselly way around the requirement and then justifying it with some test  
that technically doesn't contradict one interpretation of the wording,  
then we're wasting people's time. We could give feedback on how to tighten  
up the wording, or ask them to clarify whether they want to accept or deny  
our particular approach (and similar weaselling).



(*In english, australian, and some other countries this actually has the  
definition "what the man on the Clapham omnibus would think reasonable").

Charles McCathieNevile                     chaals@opera.com
   hablo español  -  je parle français  -  jeg lærer norsk
      Peek into the kitchen: http://snapshot.opera.com/
Received on Monday, 3 April 2006 12:47:47 UTC

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