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AW: Concerns about not covering full website

From: Kerstin Probiesch <k.probiesch@googlemail.com>
Date: Sat, 28 Jan 2012 09:54:31 +0100
To: "'Elle'" <nethermind@gmail.com>, "'RichardWarren'" <richard.warren@userite.com>
Cc: "'Alistair Garrison'" <alistair.j.garrison@gmail.com>, "'Martijn Houtepen'" <m.houtepen@accessibility.nl>, "'Eval TF'" <public-wai-evaltf@w3.org>
Message-ID: <4f23b79c.d0770e0a.43c6.ffffe277@mx.google.com>
Hi all,

I agree with Martijn. The more I think about it I also feel that this
approach is too flexible and I fear that in the end we will not come out
with a harmonized evaluation methodology but with something we already have.

Of course there are Organizations/Clients who invest in evaluations because
they feel that it is important. But I believe the majority don't invest in
that because of the users, because of the importance of accessibility. They
invest because they have to and they will choose the most cheapest way for
doing so and claiming conformance on the base of the less pages as possible.
I agree that we need some procedures for cases like: 

#there was already an successful evaluation with a testing procedure which
follows our methodology and a website owner included a shop. Will it be
enough to evaluate just the shop? Does it depends on the time between the
first evaluation and second of the shop? Are there other changes, other
additional content?
#fast growing websites

And probably some other well described exceptions: for example a website
owner wants to claim just a shop. This should include the evaluation of the
shop itself and the path to the shop.

These cases should be linked to strict defined conditions.

But I disagree with a methodology where a website owner (always) defines the
scope. Except of course where a website owner don't want to claim anything. 



Von: Elle [mailto:nethermind@gmail.com] 
Gesendet: Freitag, 27. Januar 2012 18:53
An: RichardWarren
Cc: Alistair Garrison; Martijn Houtepen; Eval TF
Betreff: Re: Concerns about not covering full website

I also agree.  I've thought about this since our call from a few pragmatic
and business angles. 

While I see the risks that Martin identified, I don't think people would
invest in auditing and meeting conformance levels on individual pages just
to spin it for better public opinion. Organizations are either committed to
accessibility or they're forced to meet requirements due to regulatory or
litigation reasons.  

Either way, that scope is defined by them, not W3C or a methodology. If
organizations are committed to accessibility, we requiring a full website
evaluation penalizes any phased efforts. Additionally, the concept of a
"full website" is becoming less and less viable to companies in a component
driven environment of content delivery. 

I do, however, want to request that we keep the URLs as a requirement in
defining that scope (and not something smaller within a single page).


On Fri, Jan 27, 2012 at 12:12 PM, RichardWarren <richard.warren@userite.com>
I agree with Alistair. We are supposed to be developing a methodology to
help people deliver a reliable and trusted conformance claim (if
appropriate). It is not our job to rewrite WCAG.
From: Alistair Garrison 
Sent: Friday, January 27, 2012 4:03 PM
To: Martijn Houtepen ; Eval TF 
Subject: Re: Concerns about not covering full website
Hi Martijn, 
I too feel we are giving people who want to evaluate conformity to WCAG 2.0
a guide on how to do a proper, representative evaluation... the question I
suppose is why must it be limited to only our definition of a website? 
Can I just clarify something (it being late on a Friday) - are you saying
that in your opinion the evaluation methodology should primarily support
independent (e.g. third-party) evaluations of whole websites, like something
you might need to support some sort of conformance scheme / badge?
I might be missing something, but I'd like to think that if I were a website
owner I'd be able to check the claimed conformance of my own page, pages,
sections, sub-domains or entire website using the W3C/WAI WCAG 2.0
Evaluation methodology - and, without having to use a third-party. In fact,
I think I would raise questions / eyebrows if I couldn't...
I suppose I would also like to think that if I verified my claimed
conformance myself using this Evaluation methodology people would actually
believe it - without the need to have it independently verified.  We should
not forget, that there will be many folks out there who have a site but
cannot afford to get it independently verified...
I'm certain that in this day-and-age a website owner would have more to
loose, than gain, by using 'smart wording' to inflate their claims. I would
even go so far as to suggest that the probability of a website owner making
a WCAG 2.0 Conformance claim for a small part of their site and then
implying its for the entire website (by saying or not saying) would be small
- especially as the whole point of the WCAG 2.0 Conformance claim is to make
this situation ever-so-plainly obvious... 
Even so, you appear to have questions about the actual worth of WCAG 2.0
Conformance claims (something you might consider raising with the WCAG 2.0
working group).  Personally, I believe the WCAG 2.0 Conformance Claim
concept to be quite sound... and, I can't really understand why (as members
of a Task Force of the WCAG 2.0 WG) we wouldn't want to be encouraging their
The draft methodology is a draft, and as such not set in stone... I trust we
hopefully have the possibility to change it if the consensus view is that
the change (using a Conformance Claim to define our scope) is of value...
All the best... 
On 27 Jan 2012, at 14:55, Martijn Houtepen wrote:

Hi Alistair, TF,
I think this approach will be getting a little bit too flexible. As I
understand, all the work we have done until now is in order to evaluate
whole websites. We want “a standardized way to evaluate the conformance of
websites to WCAG 2.0.” (quoted from the introduction of our draft
methodology), the whole draft document focuses on  ‘websites’ instead of web
pages. I can understand from an owners point of view that he/she sometimes
will want to split up a whole website into several subevaluations, but these
subevaluations, in my opinion, will together comprise the entire website,
and not leave out some part for any reason.
Some problems arise if we do follow this strategy:
If we only check what the owner of a website wants us to check, this creates
the risk that an owner will only have the conforming parts of the website
evaluated. An owner of a inaccessible website can then, with a little smart
wording, proudly claim conformance (of f.e. a little subsection). An
experienced user can differentiate between strong and weak claims, but a
normal user can’t. This in turn creates two potential pitfalls: lots of
‘empty’ claims that in practice do not help users, f.e.: “Our homepage
conforms to WCAG 2.0”, leaving out that none of the underlying pages
conform.  Secondly the degradation of those claims that are truly useful to
an user “Page X claims to conform (using an ‘empty’ claim) but I can’t use
it, so I probably also can’t use page Y (that conforms and has a useful
claim). Confusion as to what an evaluated conformance claim means, need to
be avoided.
Secondly, this will create the possibility to exclude key scenario’s and
complete paths. Again from the introduction: “The Methodology defines manual
and semi-automated methods for selecting representative samples of web pages
from websites that include complete processes.” I feel we are giving people
who want to evaluate conformity to WCAG a guide on how to do a proper,
representative evaluation of a website. If we only check pages supplied by a
website owner we can not always include key scenario’s or complete paths. I
think we do not want a web store claiming conformance, whilst it check-out
procedure is inaccessible. Or YouTube claiming conformance except for the
pages that have video’s. To form a statement about conformance, I feel we
have to be able to independently evaluate the whole website including
whatever it may contain. The resulting conformance statement, if made, will
then be of practical use for people with disabilities, as they can trust a
conformance claim to be of use for them.
Kind regards,
Martijn Houtepen
Van: Alistair Garrison [mailto:alistair.j.garrison@gmail.com] 
Verzonden: vrijdag 27 januari 2012 10:31
Aan: Eval TF
CC: Eric Velleman; Detlev Fischer
Onderwerp: Re: Concerns about not covering full website
Dear all, 
Due to its many perceived benefits, I have long been a passionate advocate
for using a website owner's WCAG 2.0 Conformance Claim as the scope of our
evaluation - writing several emails in the past months about this very
subject*.  The following summarises my thoughts to date...
I totally support the pros stated by both Detlev and Eric, emphasising that:
"This approach is very flexible and would make it possible for evaluators to
verify a WCAG 2.0 claim conformance for more stable websites or fast growing
websites, or portions of websites, sections of a website or even single
pages in a website - using sampling methods for large websites as per our
In addition, I strongly believe that:  
1) It makes evaluation more reproducible, and more efficient, as we know
exactly what forms the scope of our evaluation (i.e. what is defined in the
WCAG 2.0 Conformance claim at the time of evaluation, from which samples can
be taken as necessary);
2) Once an initial evaluation had been done (scope WCAG 2.0 Conformance
claim) we would only ever need to assess new additions to the WCAG 2.0
conformance claim on an on-going basis - hopefully saving people time and
3) It tells the public exactly what conforms in the website - a bit more
like the VPAT.  If the WCAG 2.0 conformance claim states, for example, that
a website's shopping process (defined by urls) conforms to x and y,  a user
should know it will be accessible to them; 
4) If the website contains any complete processes which back-ends into third
party pages - we are in fact prevented from just saying "the whole website"
conforms.  A WCAG 2.0 Conformance Claim, on the other hand, could be made
for this website, and evaluated, if we choose to use WCAG 2.0 conformance
claims as our scope.
5) It supports, even promotes and encourages, detailed WCAG 2.0 conformance
claims to be made by the people responsible for entire websites / parts of
It would also mean that the majority of Section 3 could be re-defined simply
e.g. "The scope of the evaluation is defined as all urls for which a WCAG
2.0 conformance claim is being made, at the time of the evaluation".
* Referenced emails from Nov / Dec 2011
All the best 
On 27 Jan 2012, at 01:01, Velleman, Eric wrote:

Hi Detlev, all,

Yes, it was an interesting discussion this afternoon about the scope of an
evaluation :-). 

This afternoon we discussed the possibility to use the WCAG2.0 Evaluation
Methodology not only for full website evaluation, but also for parts of
websites. In the current version the evaluation focuses on the full website
with a possibility to exclude parts from the scope.  If we want to include
evaluating parts of a website (like only the WAI part of W3C or only the BAD
website) this should be added in the scope section. 

Today a different approach was proposed: We look at it the other way around:
the Conformance claim determines the scope. 

This approach is very flexible and makes it possible to claim conformance
for portions of websites, possibly even for technologies or collections of
pages or single pages. This makes the Methodology much more flexible for
website owners who are not always interested in evaluation of the full
website. This is a change to the requirements document but it will provide
support for requests by website owners and evaluators wishing to just look
at a specific part of a website.

I would propose that we do a short discussion this week on this approach. Do
we leave the scope completely free for the site owner to decide?

Kindest regards,


Van: Detlev Fischer [fischer@dias.de]
Verzonden: donderdag 26 januari 2012 17:16
Onderwerp: Concerns about not covering full website

Hi everyone,

I think a lot of the heat in the disacussion we just had may be down to
a misunderstanding.

Eric, no one says that the evaluation of an entire webiste is not a good
idea or should not be done. If a site owner wants it done, that's fine.

If however, a site owner wants to look at a particular section (that can
be many pages), it should be possible to evaluate just that. It's also a
cost issue. Any conformance claim must make that limited scope perfectly
clear, preferably by binding the evaluation to a set of URLs.

Increasingly, sites have many different sections, like user generated
content. No sane person would claim even A-Level conformance for a wiki
or bulletin board that allows unstructured text input. It would fail SC
1.3.1 in minutes or hours. That's why it is more straightforward to be
able to include things even if they are important processes on a site.

Working out a sampling approach still makes sense even if you look at
parts of a site - and also if you evaluate the whole site.


If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the people to gather wood, divide
the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and
endless sea.    
- Antoine De Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
Received on Saturday, 28 January 2012 08:54:19 UTC

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