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Re: Are we True to our Priority definitions?

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>
Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 16:16:48 +1000 (EST)
To: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.SOL.4.10.10004301551040.19881-100000@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>
The way in which I have customarily conceived of the relationship is as

1. There is a threshold requirement that any access strategy stipulated
by the guidelines be technically possible, meaning that it can feasibly be
implemented in accordance with current or developing standards and

2. The guidelines must be applicable to web sites in general, and not only
to those which provide specific types of content or are intended for
particular, identifiable audiences--in other words, the guidelines are
framed in such a way that the developer of any web content should be able
to apply them, though obviously, not every guideline or checkpoint is
relevant in all circumstances. For instance, checkpoints related to images
are relevant only where the content provider chooses to use graphics.

3. Once the threshold requirement has been satisfied (item 1, above), the
priority is then assessed in terms of the three definitions set forth in
the guidelines, which are founded exclusively on what may be called
considerations of "impact".

I agree with Gregg that in the cognitive case, this scheme runs into
difficulties, for the reasons which he has so clearly enunciated: a
combination of access strategies is needed, which may, or may not, work in
relation to any particular individual (depending on the nature of his/her
cognitive abilities, experiences, interests, etc.), and so it becomes
more difficult to establish firm priority levels. Also, there are certain
classes of content which are more difficult to make accessible to people
with cognitive disabilities, then are others. I do not pretend to have
all, or even any, of the solutions to this problem, which I would argue
requires further consideration within the working group. One observation
that should be emphasised, however, is that the notion of "impact" (or,
on the positive side, the ameliorating value of an access strategy) is as
close to a clear, objective criterion of priority as we have been able to
come. In particular, it has the merit of largely avoiding policy
considerations, by which I mean specifically the need, within any
organisation, society, government, etc., to consider the practical,
technical and ethical advantages of accessibility (which in the final
analysis is a matter of human rights), to examine the costs (financial and
otherwise) of implementing access solutions, and to make a judgment as to
what should be required, how soon, with what process of progressive
implementation, and so on. As I have argued on earlier occasions, these
judgments are complex, and very sensitive to context and circumstance.
This is why some anti-discrimination laws are formulated in very general
terms, and why they include provisions related to "unjustifiable hardship"
(or whatever the preferred terminology is in the jurisdiction in

It is a virtue of this working group's activities that it avoids entering
into such considerations, and this should continue to be the case,
whatever else we choose to do in adapting and improving the priority

Disclaimer: the foregoing are personal opinions only.
Received on Sunday, 30 April 2000 02:17:34 UTC

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