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Re: Fw: Checkpoint 3.3

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>
Date: Mon, 19 Jul 1999 15:04:40 +1000 (AEST)
To: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.SUN.3.95.990719142647.5734C-100000@ariel.ucs.unimelb.EDU.AU>
The guidelines simply provide access requirements and solutions at three
levels of priority. The latter are defined on the basis of impact (namely
the consequences for particular groups of users if the checkpoints are not
satisfied). The conformance section attempts to regulate the types of
"conformance claims" that can be recognised as valid.

All decisions as to whether to implement the guidelines, to which level of
conformance, how quickly, etc., are left to the users of the document,
subject to applicable legal requirements that will vary from one
jurisdiction to another. The WAI should not become involved in the complex
legal and policy issues, the questions regarding anti-discrimination law,
the availability of funding and resources, etc., which are inevitably
involved in any attempt to regulate the accessibility of the web. Rather,
the WAI should provide the best available technical advice, and in large
measure the guidelines in their present form do so (subject to certain
reservations in connection with cognitive disabilities).

Perhaps future versions should carry a disclaimer to the effect that the
guidelines ought not to be treated as legal requirements, though they may
be taken into account in policy formulation in so far as they document the
relevant access problems and amelioration strategies, and offer
prioritised advice as to which technical issues should be addressed first
(priority 1 checkpoints) and which can be introduced through a more
evolutionary process (priority 2 and 3 checkpoints). Of course, there is
no guarantee that satisfaction of the checkpoints at any level of
priority, or any combination of the checkpoints at different priority
levels, will satisfy the requirements of anti-discrimination laws in any
jurisdiction, since these are often complaint-based and highly dependent
on individual cases, with their concomitant factual scenarios.

If governments wish to set web access standards, then by all means the
guidelines can be taken into account, but there are numerous other issues
that would also need to be considered, on which the WAI as a
research/development/educational project is ill-equipped to advise (though
some of its staff/volunteers/supporters/experts may be in a position to do
so in respect of particular jurisdictions or circumstances). For example,
the tests associated with any anti-discrimination law, the availability of
funding/expertise/resources, the approach to web design which is taken in
particular governmental institutions, etc., would all need to be
considered in determining an appropriate time-frame and set of
requirements. Likewise, any regulation of public web sites would also need
to take account of all relevant factors in reaching an appropriate policy
decision. Usually, these determinations involve consultation with
interested parties, disability organisations, etc., at a regional or
national level; but the central point is that policy development involves
quite distinct considerations that are not addressed, and ought not to be
addressed, in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

So far, no concrete evidence has been presented in this forum or the
interest group, to indicate that the guidelines are being used
inappropriately, or unthinkingly, by governments. All allegations to the
contrary which have appeared in recent discussions have been based on
unconfirmed surmise and reactionary speculation, hardly amounting to the
kind of factual detail which should be taken seriously.

A disclaimer of some kind would probably be useful as a means of avoiding
inappropriate application of the guidelines document, but in formulating
its criteria and technical recommendations, this working group should not
move into the realm of policy making.
Received on Monday, 19 July 1999 01:05:11 GMT

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