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Re: Weighing in on priority definitions

From: eric hansen <ehansen@ets.org>
Date: Wed, 05 May 1999 15:44:24 -0400 (EDT)
To: w3c-wai-au@w3.org
Message-id: <vines.Bh0E+My7ArA@cips06.ets.org>
I find the refined wording stated by Charles McCathie-Nevile (5/3/99) to be 
a considerable improvement upon the language in the 4/30/99 Authoring Tools 
document. Among the helpful changes are that the 5/3/99 version makes clear 
that we are referring to disability groups, not just any group of users.

SUGGESTED CHANGES

I suggest a few changes, which I summarize as follows.

1. Fixed lack of parallel construction of Priority 3. Currently, Priority 3 
has a very different construction, making it hard to process.

2. Referred consistently to "groups" rather than to "groups" and 
"individuals".  "Individuals" vary so widely that they can have virtually 
any level of difficulty and any priority level. (The Priority ratings of 
the WCAG document are technically based on "groups", not "individuals".) 
The reference to groups reduces the variation.

3. Reduced unnecessary variation. For example, in Priority 1, "impossible" 
and "not able to" was reduced to "impossible."

4. Made the scale match the Web content accessibility guidelines: 
"impossible", "very difficult", and "somewhat difficult". There may be 
other terms that would serve equally well, but I think that there should be 
a good reason before varying from the other guidelines.

5. Made the phrase starting "otherwise" into a new sentence. This makes 
clearer that the essence of the priorities are the imperative words (must, 
should, may). The sentence starting "Otherwise.." is the impact that causes 
or justifies the imperative. (The final sentence provides an elaboration 
upon the imperative.)

6. Emphasized "must", "should", "may". These are the key words.

7. Made phrasing more parallel. Making the structure more parallel as I 
have done makes it easier for readers to identify key differences between 
priorities. See below for the essential differences:

Legend: Prority Number, Imperative, Impact, Elaboration 

Priority 1: "must", "impossible", "is a basic requirement"
Priority 2: "should", "very difficult", "will remove significant barriers"
Priority 3: "may", "somewhat difficult", "will improve access"

If you try to do the same thing with the 5/3/99 wording or the 4/30/99 
wording, you will find it much more complicated and verbose. You will also 
see a major discontinuity in Priority 3.

THE CHANGES

Priority 1
New (5/5/99):
This checkpoint _must_ be implemented by authoring tools. Otherwise, one or 
more groups of authors with disabilities will find it impossible to access 
some function of the tool, or authors using the tool will find it 
impossible to create web content that is accessible. Satisfying this 
checkpoint is a basic requirement for one or more disability groups to be 
able to use the authoring tool or its output. 

Old (5/3/99):
This checkpoint must be implemented by authoring tools, otherwise one or 
more groups of authors with disabilities will find it impossible to access 
some function of the tool, or authors using the tool will not be able to 
create web content that is accessible. Satisfying this checkpoint is a 
basic requirement for some individuals to be able to use the authoring tool 
or its output. 

Priority 2
New (5/5/99):
This checkpoint _should_ be implemented by authoring tools. Otherwise one 
or more groups of authors with disabilities will find it very difficult to 
access some function of the tool, or authors using the tool will find it 
very difficult to create web content that is accessible. Satisfying this 
checkpoint will remove significant barriers for one or more disability 
groups to be able to use the authoring tool or its output. 

Old (5/3/99):
This checkpoint should be implemented by authoring tools, otherwise one or 
more groups of authors with disabilities will face significant barriers to 
access some function of the tool, or authors using the tool will find it 
difficult to create web content that is accessible. Satisfying this 
checkpoint will remove significant barriers for some individuals to be able 
to use the authoring tool or its output. 

Priority 3
New (5/5/99):
This checkpoint _may_ be implemented by authoring tools. Otherwise, one or 
more groups of authors with disabilities will find it somewhat difficult to 
access some function of the tool, or authors using the tool will find it 
somewhat difficult to create web content that is accessible. Satisfying 
this checkpoint will improve access for one more disability groups to be 
able to use the authoring tool or its output.

Old (5/3/99):
This checkpoint may be implemented by authoring tools, to make it easier 
for one or more groups of authors with disabilities to access some function 
of the tool, or authors using the tool will find it easier to create web 
content that is accessible. Satisfying this checkpoint will improve access 
for some individuals to the authoring tool or its output.

OTHER ISSUES

The reference to "may" makes it sound optional even though it is Priority 3 
is framed as part of the mandate regarding what it takes to make something 
accessible. Correcting that issue may not be worth the trouble at this 
stage.

Another issue that I am mulling over is that the word "accessible" is used 
in different ways in the document. One way to think about these differences 
is: "Are there times that you mean WCAG triple-A compliant and other times 
that you mean WCAG single-A compliant and other times something still 
different?" I am not sure how to address this issue.

=============================
Eric G. Hansen, Ph.D.
Development Scientist
Educational Testing Service
ETS 12-R
Rosedale Road
Princeton, NJ 08541
(W) 609-734-5615
(Fax) 609-734-1090
E-mail: ehansen@ets.org 
Received on Wednesday, 5 May 1999 15:57:20 UTC

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