W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-gl@w3.org > April to June 1998

RE: Generalising guidelines

From: Sean Lindsay <editor@outlookmagazine.com>
Date: Thu, 7 May 1998 03:44:20 +0800
To: "WAI Authoring Guidelines Group" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <003001bd7927$5cdb4000$d23e3bcb@mach2>
The remarks I made about Javascript and XML solutions were intended as
flippant - but they reflect my belief that if you explain what the problem
is to a halfway decent web designer, especially a professional, they will
come up with an innovative solution that best suits their website, and their

Perhaps I'm confused as to the intent of the Guidelines themselves? Is the
intention to steer designers towards best practices for accessibility, or to
assist in identifying/solving existing accessibility problems? I suspect
that Jason is advocating the former while I am advocating the latter. Both
are necessary in one form or another, and obviously it's a shame that as yet
they are not perfectly compatible.

I believe it's too early to advocate a CSS-only solution. Current support
for CSS is so varied that pages will not only look inconsistent, but in some
cases (in IE3) can actually look worse than plain structural HTML. A page
that displays poorly and inconsistently in graphical browsers may be
technically accessible, but it forms a barrier for sighted users.

The lack of consistent CSS support today's browsers is an issue that
designers will have to accommodate for another year or more at least, just
as designs often still accommodate the limitations of v2.0 browsers. If the
guidelines insist on designing for tomorrow's browsers at the expense of
today's, you are asking designers to ignore the majority of their current

The guidelines need to advocate accessibility as well as define it. A
designer reading the guidelines is still deciding whether the changes are
worth implementing. It may be the first, and only, document they read on the

As a designer I want to know what conditions I need to meet to guarantee
100% accessibility for my users - but I'll settle for satisfactory
accessibility 100% of the time. I also want to know how to achieve this with
the minimum amount of alteration to my existing design, and disruption for
existing users. Currently the guidelines don't answer the second question.

And as a designer who's responding to a complaint from a user (in my case
this is literally true), I can't wait for browsers or authoring tools to
catch up, and more than I could ask the user (now or in the future) to
upgrade their software.


Sean Lindsay
Editor - OutLook Magazine's Disability Web
Received on Wednesday, 6 May 1998 15:45:09 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Tuesday, 16 January 2018 15:33:27 UTC