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RE: WCAG and "undue hardship"

From: Greg Gay <g.gay@utoronto.ca>
Date: Tue, 30 May 2000 15:39:53 -0400
Message-ID: <39341908.BA40DEA3@utoronto.ca>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org

Jason White wrote:

> The concept of undue hardship is relevant in the courtroom (or in a
> tribunal hearing), but not in the guidelines.

I have to disagree. The WCAG is currently being used widely to judge
accessiblity and guide the development of web accessiblity legislation
Canada, the US, and Australia ( and probably elsewhere).. It is only a
of time before the WCAG is used in an accessibility related litigation.
hardship" may be only one of the implications of introducing WCAG. I can

imaging there will be other issues associated with the language used in
guidelines, that will arise when the courtrooms begins to hear Web
cases. I have not scrutinize the language of WCAG so I do not know where
holes appear, but the next version of the guidelines should be created
the foresight that they will be used in the courtroom .

> I agree with an earlier observation from Charles that we do need to
> establish the minimal requirements that can be expected of a user
> for purposes of the guidelines, and these are likely to be rather
> XHTML Basic, now available as a public working draft, provides
> insight into what are thought to be the minimal capabilities of user
> agents, including emerging mobile devices, and can obviously serve as
> starting point for further discussion.

Accessibility with regard to disability, and accessiblity with regard to
agents are two different issues which need to be distinguished when
to notions such as undue hardship. Laws have been put in place to ensure
people with disabilities are not excluded. There will be no such laws
put in
place to ensure that web content is accessible to a person accessing it
through their cellular phone. User agent accessiblity will be design
Yes, the two are not mutually exclusive.

> Of course, there are many reasons
> why client-side scripts are either inaccessible, or unavailable to
> identifiable groups of users; and these are reflected in the

As html can be inaccessible. As with html, accessible authoring
practices can
be introduced, and the language itself  upgraded to include
features. Javascript development should also follow this path.Where do
draw the line between the responsibility of developers, or the
innovators who
develop technology like javascript, to create accessible script enabled
and the responsibility adaptive technology developers, who make there
able to interpret these pages. This question seems to pop up on a
basis. The adaptive technology developers such as IBM and Henter Joyce
taken on the responsibility of creating  products that will deal with
formats. What do we tell  Sun, who is actively seeking to make Java
accessible; It's not a standard W3C format so it shouldn't  used? What
VRML, or Flash? Both of these developers are also working to add
to their technology. W3C will not be able to control the introduction of
technology, so why not guide them so they create a product that is
rather than dictating they comply with limiting standards?

Greg Gay
Web Projects & Instructional Design
Centre for Academic and Adaptive Technology
Received on Tuesday, 30 May 2000 15:41:06 UTC

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