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Discussion of the scope of WCAG-EM

From: Detlev Fischer <detlev.fischer@testkreis.de>
Date: Tue, 4 Dec 2012 18:28:11 +0100
Message-Id: <00E9048C-E478-491F-8627-C52592E0F806@testkreis.de>
To: "public-wai-evaltf@w3.org TF" <public-wai-evaltf@w3.org>
Dear members of EVAL TF,

this is a reply to a direct mail by Eric earlier today (further below) - he agreed to post this discussion to the list. 
I would be very interested to hear your views!


Hi Eric, hi Shadi

Thanks for asking me about my scope comment. 

I believe that WCAG-EM would (and should) often be used in contexts where full conformance is not achievable for practical reasons (often due to corporate factors, multiple design teams in merged content, and legacy stuff). Focusing just of final conformance evaluation and saying 'not applicable to sites under development' severely limits the applicability of WCAG-EM. After all, the essential process of checking pages against conformance criteria *is* the same in both cases. I think this sentiment has been echoed by a number of other participants on the last call and calls before, and previously, in contributions to the mailing list. I also find this sentiment in some of the external comments we have received.

I am not quite sure anymore at what point it was once for all decided by EVAL-TF *not* to extend the scope of WCAG-EM to be relevant to development also. I personally think this is a grave strategic mistake that will limit the future uptake of the methodology, possibly consign it to near-irrelevance (think of the fate of UWEM which is hardly known in the wider a11y community - we had to spell it out to Leonie, for example). 

The main contribution WCAG-EM makes at the moment is in defining the scope and the sampling approach - practical issues of how to evaluate and to rate are not being addressed, for reasons I have come to accept. But these first two aspects are equally relevant for testing sites at an advanced development stage that may eventually want to claim (and test for) conformance.

I don't think we would necessarily need many disclaimers to allow for both use cases. It will just be important in reporting to show that one use case is to validate (or stake) a conformance claim, and that another use case is the structured gathering of information about a site's state of accessibility (at whatever stage) without regard to the conformance target. In my view, it is just a different type of reporting where for the second type, the comments and some way of showing the degree of conformance achieved at a given time are very useful, quite outside the aim of achieving full conformance.

I just think of the practitioner / web designer out there with an awareness of a11y (and clients who demand it) who will turn to and inspect WCAG-EM to see if there is 'anything in it for him (or her)' to support implementation of a11y. I have had ample exposure to the views of al1y-aware web developers in BIK's 95plus circle which had people from some of the most competent German web agencies in it, so this not just my personal opinion. I am pretty sure that any claim along the lines of 'WCAG-EM is only for finalised web sites' will be a real turn-off for such an audience.

Personally, I think it is worth having this discussion again in the larger group. However, I do not want to impose the discussion, and I don't want to be destructive or hold up the development. 

In my view, it is mainly a methodology design question how to best communicate two distinctly different use cases for WCAG-EM without introducing all sorts of disclaimers. I think it can be done, and the general applicability and consequent uptake for WCAG-EM would benefit from that.


On 3 Dec 2012, at 22:10, Velleman, Eric wrote:

> Hello Detlev,
> I have a question regarding your answer to DoC_ID_4 in the last survey:
> <https://www.w3.org/2002/09/wbs/48225/evaltfq5/results#x2631>
> EvalTF decided earlier that we did not want to extend the scope of WCAG-EM to cover the different stages of the process of website development. The methodology requires a website to be fully functional.
> In the survey and during the last telco you propose to change this and to differentiate between two use-cases: Full evaluation (no exclusions) and evaluation during development (possible exclusions).
> Would your comment be covered by the remark made by Shadi? He says: "Anyone is welcome to use the document in any context but if we go down the path of expanding the scope to evaluation during development then we risk failing to address the primary use case that the document is trying to address."
> I am afraid Shadi is right. Also I think that if we try to turn this methodology into a 'one methodology fits all possible evaluations', then we may end up having to write repeating disclaimers into every section (this section is only applicable if... except when... or when…). I thought about adding Shadi's remark in a more diplomatic way into the document but that would raise many questions. If we do want to address this, then I think it should be outside of the document itself.
> What do you think?
> Kindest regards,
> Eric
> =========================
> Eric Velleman
> Technisch directeur
> Stichting Accessibility
> Universiteit Twente
> Tel: +31 (0)30 - 2398270
> Christiaan Krammlaan 2
> 3571 AX Utrecht
> www.accessibility.nl / www.wabcluster.org / www.econformance.eu /
> www.game-accessibility.com/ www.eaccessplus.eu
> Lees onze disclaimer: www.accessibility.nl/algemeen/disclaimer
> Accessibility is Member van het W3C
> =========================

Detlev Fischer
testkreis - das Accessibility-Team von feld.wald.wiese
c/o feld.wald.wiese
Thedestraße 2
22767 Hamburg

Tel   +49 (0)40 439 10 68-3
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Received on Tuesday, 4 December 2012 17:27:00 UTC

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