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Re: WCAG Compliance Levels

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>
Date: Tue, 4 May 1999 09:27:11 +1000 (AEST)
To: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.SUN.3.95.990504090740.10176C-100000@ariel.ucs.unimelb.EDU.AU>
I would like to add that the requirement to use style sheets is one of the
fundamental keys to accessibility in the guidelines. In the past, there
has always been a tension between the desire to provide a visually
pleasing representation of a document, and the need to ensure that it can
be accessed across a range of output devices and media types. 
Considerations of structure and content have often given way to the
demands of presentation. Style sheets are the best, indeed the only
mechanism by which both aims can be achieved without sacrificing one in
favour of the other. They overcome the presentation/access dilemma. If web
content is not to degrade into an unstructured mess consisting of complex,
nested tables interspersed with images, and if documents are to be well
designed, both visually and structurally, allowing structural navigation,
facilitating the application of audio and braille formatting techniques so
as to become equally accessible throughout the full range of available
media, then style sheets are an indispensable component of our developing
web infrastructure. 

During the evolution of the guidelines, it has often been argued that a
particular requirement ought not to be imposed, at least at a priority 1
level, upon authors, because user agents are available which support newer
features that avoid what would otherwise be an access problem. It is
equally fair to argue that most people should now be able to obtain, at
minimal cost, a user agent that supports style sheets, and that in any
case, if style sheets are not supported, a well structured document will
be cleanly displayed in any case (albeit with a loss of the formatting
specified in the style sheet).

Thus I would argue that the treatment of style sheets in the guidelines as
a priority 2 access requirement, along with the demands that content and
presentation be separated to enable the format of documents to be
expressed in different media, is perfectly appropriate, indeed necessary.
Received on Monday, 3 May 1999 19:28:20 GMT

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