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Comments on WCAG 2.0 requirements draft.

From: Steve McCaffrey <smccaffr@mail.nysed.gov>
Date: Fri, 26 May 2000 09:55:31 -0400
Message-Id: <200005261359.JAA23789@tux.w3.org>
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
    First, I like what I see in the WCAG 2.0 requirements draft.
Much thought obviously is going into ensuring that ver. 2.0 is even more
useful and multi-user friendly.  My thanks and compliments to all.
"Resolve the relationship between user agent support and author supplied
content (cross-platform and backwards compatibility issues)."

Yes, extremely important.
Does "author supplied content" include the role of authoring tools?
In short, I believe WCAG2 must include sufficient knowledge from the user
agent and authoring tool accessibility guidelines as well. 
And, of course, user agent = browser + assistive technology.
Guidelines should carefully and clearly give guidance to the developer
1. "What do I have to know about how the (user agent, authoring tool) does
behind the scenes, how it works, in order to  produce accessible content?"
2. when to ask 1, that is, 
"How do I know that my possible lack of knowledge 
of how user agents and authoring tools work may be influencing the degree
to which my content is accesible?"
     What I'm driving at here is that, in problem solving, it is important
to know how and when  to break your problem down into simpler problems
(finer grained detail) you can solve.
If you are solving a really new problem, with no prior experience, you
don't know ahead of time even what details need to be considerred in the
first place.
Guidance must be givenn.
(For a much better treatment of these issues, see George Polya's classic,
"How To Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method".  I think Polya's
detailed discussion of the problem solving process is worth reading for
anyone creating what amounts to a domain specific problem solving manual. 
Especially useful are his example dialogs between teacher and student.)

"XML technologies (DTD authoring? namespaces?)"

Absolutely, essential, esp. considering
issues raised in
" XML Accessibility Guidelines", (
W3C WAI PF draft note - 17 February 2000
considering that there are a proliferating number of markup languages and
as noted in the above,
there is no accessibility built into XML itself (e.g. requirement for an
alt attribute), are there any thoughts about modifying the XML spec itself
to do this, (or will these be handled via style sheets?).  
In MS Office 2000 suite, I understand when saving as a web page, XML is
automatically generated.
I have also seen at least one Excel 2000file  that when saved as a web
page, used VML.  It is not clear that any of these XML/VML will be
accessible without, say, device and/or access-mode specific style sheets.
Thinking out loud, it appears even possible that if accessibility is really
not built into the markup languages, the entire emphasis may have to be
shifted to the programs (in whatever language, e.g. Java) 
that process the marked-up documents, (and/or the XSlt process - is that
part of namespaces?).  

Keep up the good work.


Steve McCaffrey
Senior Programmer/Analyst
Information Technology Services
New York State Department of Education
New York State Workgroup on Accessibility to Information Technology 
Web Design Subcommittee 

Received on Friday, 26 May 2000 09:59:01 UTC

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