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Re: Murky ratings

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.EDU.AU>
Date: Thu, 14 May 1998 09:42:53 +1000 (AEST)
To: WAI Markup Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.SUN.3.95.980514085516.20235B-100000@ariel.ucs.unimelb.EDU.AU>
I agree entirely with Nir's position and would strongly oppose any attempt
to take account of the limitations of specific browsers, or specific
browser and assistive technology combinations, in the guidelines. What is
needed is a set of guidelines which, it should be remembered, will be in
use and circulation for some time, and which will not only assist authors
in the further development and refinement of their existing web sites, but
which will also be incorporated, thanks to the "education and outreach"
component of the WAI, into training materials, governmental regulations,
etc.

For this reason, it would be wrong to recommend obsolete solutions which
are only necessitated by limitations of particular implementations.
Instead, the guidelines should be formulated in terms of browsers that
comply with different versions of the HTML specification (2.0, 3.2 and
4.0). This approach need not be stated explicitly, but it should be, and
to a large extent has been, implicitly operative in the distinction
between "new" and "interim" recommendations.

Moreover, since the "authoring tool" working group is relying on the page
authoring guidelines to provide recommendations of best practice which
will be paralleled in their own recommendations, it is clear that whatever
this group recommends will be setting in concrete as a standard that will
be normative for a considerable time.

In this and other fora, page authors have argued, quite reasonably, that
they should not be expected to compensate for the inadequacy of outdated
technology. Also, they should not be expected to adopt one solution today
and a different approach in the future. To some extent, it is appropriate
to take account of those features of HTML 4.0 that have not yet been
implemented; and this is achieved by the "interim" recommendations in the
guidelines.

It is time to set aside, so far as possible, the problems of the past and
work toward developing a long lasting solution which will ensure that the
Web can in principle become universally accessible, meaning, concretely,
that it will embody the characteristics which Gregg Vanderheiden has so
aptly termed "medium independence" and "medium redundancy".

The "interim" guidelines, so long as they are firmly based on different
versions of the HTML specification and assume correct implementation
thereof, will provide a bridge between solutions applicable to HTML 3.2
technology, and the new HTML 4.0 and CSS framework.
Received on Wednesday, 13 May 1998 19:43:00 GMT

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