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Re: Granularity of conformance claims

From: Ian Jacobs <ij@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 1999 11:20:18 -0400
Message-ID: <379C7CB2.25373DCC@w3.org>
To: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>
CC: "webmaster@dors.sailorsite.net" <webmaster@dors.sailorsite.net>, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Kynn Bartlett wrote:
> At 07:09 AM 7/22/1999 , Bruce Bailey wrote:
> >Allow me to quote from an email sent by contractor defending his work after
> >I critiqued his horribly inaccessible site.  Mind you, this vendor
> >understands that accessibility is an issue.  My main point in posting this
> >here is to provide hearsay evidence that vendors will try and use WCAG as a
> >"Chinese menu" -- picking and choosing among what they want.  And this is
> >with the current WCAG.  Charles' observations are quite on the mark.  We
> >don't dare weaken the A/AA/AAA levels!
> I disagree entirely; I think we need to be more concerned with the
> checkpoint priorities and remember they are based on "must", "should"
> and "may", and not focus so highly on single-A/double-AA/triple-AAA!

In the UAGL WG we have already explored the conformance
issue in depth. Please refer, for example, to my summary of 
options discussed by the UAGL WG [1]

[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-ua/1999JanMar/0017.html

The summary includes Kynn's proposal to allow vendors
to pick and choose checkpoints they wish to/can satisfy.
The working group was in favor of this option for a while 
(refer to a WG decision [2] to this effect).

[2] http://www.w3.org/WAI/UA/1999/01/wai-ua-telecon-19990106.html#action

However, in the end we did not choose this scheme for an
important reason: we decided that the UA guidelines needed
to ensure compatibility between two important classes of user
agents: desktop graphical browsers and dependent assistive technologies.
There are other possible combinations or stand-alone systems, but
the WG decided that ensuring communication and interoperability
between these two common classes was the first concern. To ensure
compatibility, the WG decided that the picking and choosing mechanism
was insufficient. 

> I think WCAG _should_ be a Chinese menu (anyone need that idiom
> explained?) because that's how it's written and that's apparently the
> intent of the document!  To use it otherwise -- to decree that the
> priority levels constitute a sensible implementation plan -- is
> ridiculous!

Staying with the East for a moment: I think that people who conform
to WCAG should wear yellow belts, brown belts, black belts, etc.
to their achievements and dedication. In the world of
martial arts (and to the general population) these belts represent 
known and standardized levels of achievement and instant 
recognition of them (<wink>though color alone
does not suffice</wink>) is a valuable feature. People can
learn a kick or a chop on its own, but the system encourages them
to pursue known levels that have evolved from much experience
and testing. While WCAG 1.0 admittedly does not benefit from hundreds
of years of experience, the principle remains the same.

In short, for those concerned with *conformance* (and not
just accessibility), known levels add value. For those concerned
with accessibility, other systems may be possible, including
using the checklist alone to show which checkpoints one satisfies.

 - Ian

Ian Jacobs (jacobs@w3.org)   http://www.w3.org/People/Jacobs
Received on Monday, 26 July 1999 05:34:11 UTC

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