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Re: Priorities & Impacts; Affected Groups

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 14 Dec 1998 11:31:27 -0500 (EST)
To: eric hansen <ehansen@ets.org>
cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.04.9812141118420.27705-100000@tux.w3.org>
Eric suggested that we include statements about the impact of access
barriers, and attempt to quantify them in some way.

I am personally not keen on the idea of including elaborate impact
statements, although there are a number in the guidelines. I am dead
against the idea of quantifying them, as I feel that is an exercise which
is certainly beyond the scope, and probably beyond the resources of the

How much impact a particular problem has on the general community (as some
kind of weighted average of impacts on subsections) is, in my opinion
irrelevant to the goals of the group. It does not assist us to determine
what guideines should be followed, and what techniques are available, to
ensure that web content is accessible to all. It may assist people who are
trying to quantify a cost/benefit analysis, but that is way beyond the
task we are performing. It is also important in such a situation to have
accurate, up to date information. A W3C recommendation cannot be changed -
it is by definition a stable document.

In this context, the removal of priorities on guidelines may be helpful.
The guidelines themselves must be followed, but it may happen in some
months that there is no necessity for most people to do anything
particular to follow a given guideline, since the problem is handled for
them by an authoring tool (as an abstract example).

The priority definitions are information which may be useful to people
trying to do a cost/benefit analysis - things which are priority 2
techniques are not going to provide access in themselves, they are just
going to significantly improve the quality of that access (by bringing it
nearer the quality experienced by 'mainstream users' - perhaps we should
make that more explicit in the P2 definition?) while things which are
priority 1 deal with the ability to access the information or function in
any form, without minimal regard to the difficulty of using that
information or function. (It could be argued that giving a person access
to a binary representation of the data in a GIF file is providing access,
but I think most people would agree that it is a stupid argument.)


--Charles McCathieNevile
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (visiting)
email: charles@w3.org telephone: +1 (617) 258 8143
mail: LCS, 545 Technology sq., Cambridge MA, USA
Received on Monday, 14 December 1998 11:31:32 UTC

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