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Accessibility of sites driven by databases.

From: Ian Jacobs <ij@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 04 May 2000 12:23:06 -0400
Message-ID: <3911A3EA.38907344@w3.org>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org

Wendy suggested that I send this to the list. It was my
response to the following question on the wai list:

Q: What is the effect on usability if any if a whole site or a whole
 section of a site is database driven?

This is a good question that the Web Content Guidelines
Working Group intends to address in the next version of
the Guidelines. My comments below do not represent consensus
in the Working Group, but are based on my understanding
of the problem.

On the one hand, whether content is written by hand,
created by an authoring tool, or generated by scripts
from a database does not change the requirements for
making it accessible. The content has to meet the
requirements of WCAG 1.0 for device-independence,
equivalent alternatives, navigation, orientation, etc.

However, the answer is complicated for the case of
content that is tailored to the particular capabilities
of a user (or the user's software) based on some negotiation
that takes place between the client and server. For example,
if a user has configured the user agent to accept certain
formats of content only (e.g., text), then the user has
explicitly requested that the server not deliver alternatives.
In that case, it would appear that the content does not
meet the requirements for including equivalents. And yet the
user has explicitly requested one format only. The WCAG 1.0
conformance requirements do not address this issue adequately.

I would suggest that one way to resolve this issue is to
consider the content "as a whole" that may be delivered by
the server. Users must be able to get some form of content
from the server that meets their needs, though they may
choose to put a filter on that content. The accessibility
of the site should be considered as a whole: can the user
access the site as a whole, even if some parts of it may be

 - Ian
Ian Jacobs (jacobs@w3.org)   http://www.w3.org/People/Jacobs
Tel:                         +1 831 457-2842
Cell:                        +1 917 450-8783
Received on Thursday, 4 May 2000 12:23:09 UTC

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