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Time to Get to Work

From: Gregg Vanderheiden <po@trace.wisc.edu>
Date: Thu, 30 Oct 1997 17:49:45 -0600
Message-ID: <01BCE55C.36118100.po@trace.wisc.edu>
To: "'w3c-wai-gl@w3.org'" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Dear Guidelines Working Group members:

Now that the HC group has completed its review, it's time to get down to 
work on the guidelines.
At the last meeting, we were able to get through about half of the old 
guidelines, making recommendations and suggestions.  Another chunk of work 
was delegated to the Tables Group, and some parts we just didn't get to.
There's also been a tremendous amount of traffic on the various listserves 
on different ideas.  At the last meeting, we also decided to restructure 
the guidelines.
As a result, I was left with a lot of ideas and some directions, but only 
about a third of the definite decisions.  I was uncomfortable in putting 
together guidelines that would go out as being the WAI guidelines, so we 
decided here to put together one last set of Trace Center guidelines, which 
the WAI committee could use as a base for its work.  That version is 
Version 8.0, and is being submitted to the Working Group as a point to 
begin its efforts on developing the first official WAI guidelines.

WHAT WE DID
1)	We took all of the recommendations from the last WAI meeting, and 
incorporated them.  These included the rewordings, the specific new items, 
the relative ranking, the decision to include but separate the 
recommendations for page authors, browser developers, and screen reader 
developers, etc.

2)	We conducted a sweep of the web, identifying large numbers of 
guidelines, which we pored over to make sure that we captured as many 
issues and ideas as possible.  (These guidelines are listed in the 
appendix.)

3)	We adopted the four-plus-one-level approach that I proposed at the 
meeting, and that we voted to try.  In this version, we have the Level 4 
guidelines as well as several of the Level 3 Quicksheets and Checklists, 
all in rough draft form.

4)	We completely restructured the Level 4 guidelines so that they were in 
the same basic structural format as HTML 4.0.  The thought here was that 
this would both facilitate review and transfer of ideas by or to the HTML 
4.0 group, and help us to make sure that we have in fact covered all of the 
different issues that might arise.  We think this is a helpful way to look 
at it, but the group can judge.

5)	We tried some formatting tricks to try to make the guidelines easier to 
look at and review, both visually and using screen readers.  (For example, 
we used 1, 2, 3, or 4 asterisks to make it easy to visually pick out the 
most important items.  However, screen readers don't usually read three of 
any character, so we changed asterisks to images and used "one star," "two 
star," "three star," and "four star" as the alt text.  This both solves the 
screen reader problem and makes it a lot easier for screen readers to read 
items - e.g., they hear "four star, add alt text to all images" instead of 
"asterisk asterisk asterisk asterisk, add alt text to all images.")

6)	We also tried to capture as much of the discussion on the HC and IG 
listserves as possible, although some items are still not resolved 
sufficiently to capture them in the guidelines.


LOCATION OF THE CURRENT DRAFT
The current draft can be found at
http://trace.wisc.edu/docs/html_guidelines/htmlgide.htm

WHAT TO DO FROM HERE
Please look over the guidelines and begin the process of reviewing and 
making suggestions.
Any and all aspects of the guidelines are up for grabs, review, and 
revision.
We will be incorporating all of the revisions and trying to create as 
complete and accurate a version as we can between now and November 10.  We 
will then be freezing this version of the HTML guidelines and passing it 
over in that state to the WAI as a working document.
Before the freeze date of November 10, it is quite easy to make changes, 
revisions, etc., since it is still a Trace Center document.  Any good ideas 
from individuals we will incorporate and act on.
After November 10, we will be working on a WAI working draft document.  At 
that point, we will have to develop some other rules for editing, making 
changes, etc.  I would suspect that changes, edits, revisions, etc., will 
need to have some type of a group consensus, or at least sub-group 
agreement, before they are incorporated.  As a result, I would expect that 
it would be much harder and slower to make changes after November 10.  We 
will, of course, want to work out procedures that make the most sense and 
allow us to move forward rapidly.  However, there are millions of issues 
around a document that is this large and we are mostly operating off of 
volunteer personnel for review and comment.  It therefore promises to be 
interesting.
Hopefully, we've been able to capture people's ideas, etc., sufficiently 
that this document lands close to what people think on the various topics 
and items.  If not, then let's see how close we can get it by November 10. 
A first priority is to make sure that all non-controversial items, items 
that we all basically agree on, can be captured and put into the document. 
 Any place where there is controversy or difference of opinion, we will try 
to reflect both sides (or all sides) in the document, and then we can work 
out the WAI position later.
Good luck, and have fun.  I'm sure you will find many mistakes and things 
that need to be fixed in this draft.  We didn't want to hold onto it any 
longer, though.  Now that the HC review is completed, we want to get this 
to everyone to start critiquing.
Please note:
As we get in comments, corrections, etc., we will be continually making 
changes to the copy at the above URL.  I would suggest that each time you 
sit down to review it, you pull a fresh copy down for your review.
If you are reviewing and you only get halfway through, send us the comments 
for as far as you got.  Then next time you have time to work on it, pull a 
fresh copy and pick up where you left off.
Finally, if you feel that there is a better approach to take in trying to 
get as far as we can prior to the next meeting, please let me know.  My 
thought was that we would use this strategy to get us close and clear all 
the easy stuff out of the way.  We could then use the meeting time to 
establish consensus on all of the easy stuff and then discuss, resolve, or 
delegate as many tough issues as we can.
Oh, yes:
It's probably best to post your comments and feedback to the WG listserve 
wherever possible.  In this way, everybody can follow the conversations and 
chime in to second or counter-propose as appropriate.  It'll also prevent 
50 people telling us we misspelled things.
We've put on our thick skin, so don't be shy.
Gregg Vanderheiden
Co-editor (with Wendy Chisholm) of the Trace Center Web Guidelines
And (future) editor (actually scribe and compiler) for the
WAI Guidelines Working Group
Received on Thursday, 30 October 1997 18:57:13 GMT

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