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HTML 4 or 3.2, definition of accessibility

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 19 Jan 1999 09:44:56 -0500 (EST)
To: WAI AU Guidelines <w3c-wai-au@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.04.9901171837520.18446-100000@tux.w3.org>
Some open thoughts:

I imagine that Tool developers will take (perhaps at different times at
least) one of three approaches.

1) Some may ignore the guidelines and the aims behind them. This is
unfortunate but likely to occur in some cases. The Education and Outreach
Group has responsibility for convincing these people to change their
minds. It is our responsibility to make it clear what they need to if they
are going to adopt the second approach:

2) Many will aim for a 'minimum-cost satisfactory solution'.

This approach will rely on clear concise information about what must be
provided in a tool - the parts of our guidelines which are rated as
Priority 1. If we give Priority 1 to things which are very nice, but not
really necessary, then we risk our work being seen as irrelevant or
inaccurate. If we remove Priority 1 from things that are necessary,
because they are not currently affordable, then we invalidate our purpose.

I don't think that this approach is, as Rob suggests, completely against
the grain of what we are trying to achieve. But I do think that it is only
ever going to be a satisfactory compromise, rather than a good solution,
and that our Guidelines should reflect that.

3) Some will seek to promote themselves by producing software which is
extremely good for accessiblity.

Hopefully this will change from 'some' to 'all' soon. Our responsibility
to these people is to determine what other features are particularly
important or useful, although not absolutely necessary, to increase
accessiblity for disabled users, both of Authoring Tools and of the
content they produce.

This is the approach I (and I assume we all) would like people to take,
and that the Guidelines should therefore reflect that by providing
support in the form of information.

At least that's how it seems to me.

Charles McCathieNevile

On Thu, 14 Jan 1999, Rob Cumming wrote in response to my example of how
an Authoring Tool could implement OBJECT (quoted in full with permission):
  
  Charles I think you get where I am coming from, but just keep in mind
  that if there are 4 different ways for an object to gracefully
  downgrade, then the Application Developers workload has just increased
  4 fold and the Web Author now has code that is 4 times as
  complex/prone to error.
  
  This is why I suggested the lowest common denominator alternate page
  approach. Whilst not technically elloquent and completely against the
  grain of what you guys are trying to achieve, it is the most efficient
  way to achieve a satisfactory result.
  

--Charles McCathieNevile -  mailto:charles@w3.org
phone: * +1 (617) 258 0992 *  http://purl.oclc.org/net/charles
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative -  http://www.w3.org/WAI
545 Technology sq., Cambridge MA, USA
Received on Tuesday, 19 January 1999 09:44:58 GMT

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