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Techniques that are 'dicey'

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charlesn@srl.rmit.EDU.AU>
Date: Thu, 12 Nov 1998 17:38:42 +1100 (EST)
To: WAI GL <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.SUN.3.91.981112172827.19255H-100000@sunrise>
This is in reference to the issue of providing a set of links around a 
navbar, but applies more generally.

In the page authoring guidelines we have a number of guidelines which 
specify in abstract terms things which must, should or may be done to 
improve accessibility of documents. We also have, gathered in a sepereate 
non-normative document, a number of suggested techniques to achieve these 
desirable outcomes.

It seems to me that where there is a guideline it is incumbent on us to 
find at least one technique by which it can be satisfied. Usually there 
will be more than one, and often the best technique will take some time 
to implement. If we can provide a technique which works already, and is 
fesaible, then the guideline moves off the wish-list and into the 'here 
is a problem and sample solution' mode. This, as Chuck Oppermann says, is 
important.

It may be that people will not use guidelines which they perceive as 
having marginal value. Amongst those guidelines some people will place 
anything which caters solely to users with specific disabilities - 'some 
blind users' IS a very small market share, and that argument will be used 
by people to abrogate their moral responsibility to those users.

If we fail to make known techniques which can easily satisfy the needs of 
a particular group then we are ignoring our basic constituency. While 
the 'curb cut' effect is an important means of gaining wider acceptance 
for Universal Design, we must not ignore the fact that our brief is to 
produce guidelines which explain how to create web material which is 
accessible to people with disabilities. Whether those guidelines are 
followed is not up to us - in some cases it is up to people's own 
judgement, and in some cases it can be forced by law.

Where it can be required by law, it is even more important that we 
identify potential solutions. The world's judiciary, erudite and 
intelligent as they may be, are by and large not experts in web design, 
and rely on documents such as the guidelines, as well as the opinions of 
experts, which we claim to be, to determine whether a particular problem 
can be solved, and how feasible that solution is.

(end rant)

Charles McCathieNevile
Received on Thursday, 12 November 1998 01:42:32 GMT

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