W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-eo@w3.org > April to June 2011

Re: The difference between Standards and Government Documents

From: Denis Boudreau <dboudreau@webconforme.com>
Date: Tue, 07 Jun 2011 12:11:04 -0400
Message-id: <716B0D75-446B-4ECF-8768-9E932988B44C@webconforme.com>
To: "EOWG (E-mail)" <w3c-wai-eo@w3.org>
Catherine,

Also, I just realize now that I've somehow mixed, "wary" and "worry"... which gives a somewhat different meaning to the understanding I've had of your post... In all honesty, I had to look "wary" up in the dictionary. Again, blame it on my english. One of my many disabilities I guess. ;p

/Denis


On 2011-06-07, at 11:59 AM, Denis Boudreau wrote:

> Hi again,
> 
> On 2011-06-07, at 10:12 AM, catherine wrote:
> 
>> On Tue, June 7, 2011 8:19 am, Denis Boudreau wrote:
>>> 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...
>> 
>> Apologies but you lost me here. Could you please clarify which people I am
>> apparently not optimistic about ?
> 
> You wrote:
> 
> "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."
> 
> Maybe "optimistic" wasn't the right word to use. I only meant to say that I felt more comfortable about the whole thing than you and the organizations you were referring to seem to be. 
> 
> I should have written "application objectives" instead of "standards", that one slipped past me. Let'S blame it on my somewhat limited english... My bad. Sorry.
> 
> Regards,
> 
> /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 16:11:29 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0+W3C-0.50 : Friday, 27 April 2012 10:33:58 GMT