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RE: Murky ratings

From: Sean Lindsay <editor@outlookmagazine.com>
Date: Wed, 6 May 1998 07:37:57 +0800
To: "WAI Guidelines Group" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <001c01bd787e$d51e7f40$8a033bcb@mach2>
As an author with very recent experience on trying to apply the current
guidelines to a large site-in-progress, I may have some insight to offer
here.

The only problem I have with the guidelines as they exist now is that they
don't go into detail about *why* certain elements are required/recommended.
Some guidelines are bet-hedging for accessibility in old browsers, some are
wish-fulfilment for future browsers. Certainly, it's important to know where
accessibility is going, but most designers who approach the guidelines will
just want to know how to cover themselves now.

The most important question that a designer will ask, I feel, is: "What is
the minimum I have to do to ensure accessibility in most existing browsers?"
If the guidelines don't answer this question directly, there needs to be a
document that does.

Perhaps each guideline could be annotated with a description of what it's
supposed to achieve. Web designers could then get an overall idea of the
accessibility problems they're trying to overcome, and possibly come up with
innovative solutions.

For example, the required guideline about avoiding using tables to format
text in columns. Since 90% of commercial sites, including Netscape,
Microsoft and even the very basic Yahoo break this rule, designers who don't
understand the accessibility problem may assume either that this isn't a big
deal, or that it's too hard to implement an alternative. It needs to be made
clear that this is a serious issue, but for a decreasing number of users as
access technology catches up with this problem. Perhaps the guideline should
be Recommended, with a requirement for an alternative if not implemented.

Another extremely useful addition would be an associated document which
links to example sites that meet all or most of the guidelines, so web
designers can see what modifications or accommodations have worked for sites
similar to theirs.

Regards,

Sean Lindsay
Editor - OutLook Magazine's Disability Web
http://www.outlookmagazine.com
editor@outlookmagazine.com
Received on Tuesday, 5 May 1998 19:38:12 GMT

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