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Re: The difference between Standards and Government Documents

From: Denis Boudreau <dboudreau@accessibiliteweb.com>
Date: Tue, 07 Jun 2011 08:19:19 -0400
Message-id: <A16D7AEE-6E97-4FF1-A2E6-CC8AAF192F7D@accessibiliteweb.com>
To: "EOWG (E-mail)" <w3c-wai-eo@w3.org>
Morning Catherine,

Thanks for completing the info on the legal obligations, which are not within my area if expertise at all. 

Seeing how no one seems aware of their existence within the government only proves something else was needed to spark up accessible content on websites. Hopefully, the standards will do just that. But between you and me, I'm just not holding my breath here.

Unless somebody actually built up a case and struck the government with all the tools at their disposal, I don't think the government will ever bother, unfortunately. It's not that govt people don't care, it's just that they're not supported/funded well enough by their organizations. Most people I get to meet are genuinely interested in improving the quality of their work in order to make it accessible. But they already got so much on their plate so quite frankly, at the end of the day, a11y is just not their battle.

I happen to be more optimistic than yourself and the people you're referring to regarding the standards, but then again, if of all people, I wasn't, then I wonder who would be...

/Denis



On 2011-06-07, at 1:38 AM, catherine wrote:

> Hi,
> 
> If I may add to Denis' comments with regards to the legal situation in
> Québec and perhaps offer a different point of view (*disclaimer*: I was
> part of the team that prepared the first version of the Québec Web
> accessibility standard).
> 
>> From a legal standpoint, before the Québec standard (SGQRI 008) came
> along, there already was a legal obligation, and this concerns the public
> and private sector. First, Québec has a human rights charter[1] that
> applies to all entities, including the private sector. So, any person with
> a disability could invoke article 10 of the provincial human rights
> charter with regards to inaccessibility of public sector or commercial web
> sites whether we have a standard or not. Using the charter is not a simple
> process but people with disabilities have recently started using the
> charter more with regards to information technologies used by commercial
> entities (most notably concerning point of sales terminals) and I believe
> we can expect more instances where the charter will be used.
> 
> Also, in terms of legislation, Québec has a provincial law on disability
> rights[2] that was updated in 2004 and that created an obligation, via
> article 26.5, that the Québec government adopt a policy granting access to
> people with disabilities, in the spirit of reasonable accommodation, to
> services and public information regardless of their format (so including
> those offered online). This policy[3] was adopted in December 2006. Of
> note, all other public policies dealing with information resources must
> refer to this specific policy for accommodations to people with
> disabilities.
> 
> The Québec standard Denis mentioned is a technical tool that specifies
> technical obligations for Web content but the legal obligation was already
> there and for quite some time (albeit, it is easy to imagine the standard
> having a political impact but it is still much too early to discuss this
> yet). In the absence of the standard, a person with disabilities using the
> legal tools at her disposal could have pointed to internationally
> recognized guidelines (WCAG) and the provincial government would have been
> hard-pressed to argue, especially considering how the federal government
> had traditionally chosen to deal with web accessibility of government web
> sites.
> 
> Besides precising technical obligations, the process of developing the
> provincial standard, i.e. rewriting over the span of more than 4 years
> technical guidelines that already existed, could have easily given the
> government the false impression that it could stall. That no user with a
> disability called them on it and did not pursue a case is just the
> government's luck. The standard may also muddy the waters with regards to
> just how far an agency or ministery has to go since it excludes certain
> types of information, applies different obligation deadlines for certain
> types of content or platforms (example, intranets) and provides a big out
> (alternate version).
> 
> I would be remiss if I did not mention that some in the disability
> community in Québec are not necessarily thrilled with this standard. While
> it is *technically* sound, some people and organisations (including
> myself) are wary of its application objectives and disappointed with the
> whole process that led to its development and adoption. However, we
> recognise that the standard can be part of a toolkit of sorts that enables
> the disability community to ensure the government is respecting our
> digital rights.
> 
> And, even though ministeries and agencies had a chance to be consulted and
> to negotiate the standard and therefore see it coming (which is more than
> the disability community can say since the standard was not the subject of
> any public consultations and was developed without the disability
> community), there are, less than a month after its adoption, already
> rumors of resistance within the government due to lack of funds to apply
> it. But of course, that was to be expected.
> 
> Please note that all links direct to French resources.
> 
> Best regards,
> 
> 
> Catherine
> 
> 
> [1] http://www.cdpdj.qc.ca/fr/placedelareligion/2-charte.asp
> [2]
> <http://www2.publicationsduquebec.gouv.qc.ca/dynamicSearch/telecharge.php?type=2&file=/E_20_1/E20_1.html>
> [3]
> <http://www.ophq.gouv.qc.ca/partenaires/lacces-aux-documents-et-aux-services-offerts-au-public-pour-les-personnes-handicapees.html>
> 
> 
> -- 
> Catherine Roy
> http://www.catherine-roy.net
> 
> 
> 
> On Mon, June 6, 2011 5:01 pm, Denis Boudreau wrote:
>> Good afternoon Wayne, all,
>> 
>> 
>> On 2011-06-06, at 3:19 PM, Wayne Dick wrote:
>> 
>>> This primarily to Denis, but the rest of the group might be interested.
>> 
>> I'll do my best to make it so then!
>> 
>> 
>>> As I read the document, I notice that the WAI is not concerned with
>>> laws, policies, regulations and guidelines developed by governments.
>>> These are necessary implementation templates for executing WCAG 2.0.
>>> The documents actually discourages developing local Standards.
>> 
>> This is my understanding also. While I totally understand why the W3C
>> needs to do so, I do believe most governments will always have a tendency
>> to do things their way. In my case here, simply saying "go with the W3C"
>> was totally out of the question. Government officials I work for never
>> even considered it, based on their understanding of the results from the
>> Canadian government experience (more on that below).
>> 
>> As "damaging" as it may be for accessibility in certain cases, I truly
>> believe it doesn't always have to be harmful. Hence my comments last
>> friday.
>> 
>> 
>>> So, in Canada (Quebec) did you develop a National or Provincial
>>> Standards document, of did you formulate law, policy, regulations and
>>> guidelines?  If you did the latter, then you did exactly the right
>>> thing.  Canada may be held up as an exemplar of good practice.
>> 
>> Given the politics up here, I highly doubt we can be help up as an example
>> of any kind. But let's not discuss canadian politics just yet. <smile>
>> 
>> It's kind of in between actually. I co-wrote the standards, but we also
>> wrote different documents intended as guidelines to help web
>> authors/developers get it right. I had (and still have) no bearings on the
>> legal aspects of the whole thing, however.
>> 
>> 
>>> Could you clarify this.
>> 
>> Here's what happened and the context in which it did, in as few words as
>> possible.
>> 
>> Canada has had it's accessibility standard since 2000: it's called CLF
>> (Common Look and Feel), v2.0. It basically says: apply WCAG 1.0 level AA
>> (with minor modifications). The Treasury Board currently works on an
>> upgrade that brings CLF to WCAG 2.0 AA. They rely on techniques and
>> failures as guides in order to understand how WCAG needs to be
>> implemented. There are no laws, regulations or policies as far as I know.
>> 10 years after having adopted WCAG however, the canadian government has
>> better-than-average accessible websites, but none of them are actually
>> compliant with WCAG 2.0 as most people have very different understanding
>> of WCAG guidelines. This is a problem and this is what led the Quebec
>> government to go down a different route.
>> 
>> Quebec adopted their standards on may 10th of this year. It is "only" a 50
>> pages or so 3-document standard (topics: html, downloadable documents and
>> multimedia) that maps on to WCAG 2.0. Seeing how people's understanding of
>> WCAG 2.0 was unequal from one developer to another, we decided to "break
>> down" every SC we kept into so many different requirements that, once put
>> together, say pretty much the same thing WCAG 2.0 AA does. That break down
>> actually proves helpful (thus my example last friday with SC 1.3.1). Right
>> now, the standards are a mandatory directive from the Quebec's treasury
>> Board, but there's a law coming along (bill 133) that will most likely
>> turn those standards into a legal obligation as well. The standards affect
>> just about every organization from the public sector that's out there.
>> We're talking hundreds of organizations (which is a huge deal, considering
>> we're only 7,7 million people in Quebec). No private sector yet - we'll
>> have to wait for that one.
>> 
>> So in a way, what we have in is very much like WCAG 2.0 AA (except for
>> video content that only goes as high as A). If you follow those
>> guidelines, you will automatically be compliant with WCAG 2.0 AA. But you
>> don't necessarily have to dig really deep to understand how to do it.
>> Which is why I am reluctant to agree on some of the wording in the
>> document: somehow, this makes it more easy for people to get it right the
>> first time - thus, I humbly believe that fragmentation is not always a
>> disaster. Only time will tell if it actually works or not.
>> 
>> Best regards,
>> 
>> /Denis
>> 
> 
> 
> 
Received on Tuesday, 7 June 2011 12:19:52 GMT

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