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Re: New guidelines draft

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>
Date: Fri, 14 Jul 2000 10:20:52 +1000 (EST)
To: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.SOL.4.10.10007141004430.3359-100000@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>

On Thu, 13 Jul 2000, William Loughborough wrote:

> Principle 3: Allow author-controlled presentations - which can be
> modified by the user.

I like the simplicity, but regrettably this formulation misses important
points that were captured in the original proposal. The original text
said, "provide one or more default presentations". What this means is that
it is not sufficient simply to offer semantic and structural markup (as in
Principle 2), since this gives no guarantee that there will exist any
means by which the content can be rendered and presented to the user. I
can easily invent an arbitrary markup language, but unless there is
software of some kind, or a style language, which can convert this markup
into a presentation, it won't be readable to the user (unless of course
the markup is given in a textual markup language such as SGML or XML and
the user is willing to read the markup codes--this hardly counts as a
"presentation", except for special purposes such as editing).

Thus, there needs to be a "presentation" provided somehow, that s to say,
some attempt must be made to enable the content to be rendered by software
operating on behalf of the user. Principle 4 emphasizes this point by
requiring the content author to provide "presentations" of a particular
quality (consistent, reflecting semantic distinctions captured in the
markup, etc.), as detailed in the guidelines under Principle 4.

The idea of "one or more" default presentations is intended to express the
notion of offering support for more than one kind of rendering, for
instance by providing style sheets corresponding to different output
devices, though this is not the only means of achieving the desired result
(one could equally well provide different versions of the content,
pre-formatted for different media).

Is there a better way of expressing Principle 3, which captures these
various aspects?

One could substitute a term such as "author-defined presentations" for
"default presentations", if this would help. The term "author-defined",
however, also has unwanted implications, suggesting for instance that the
author of the content must or should also be the designer of the
presentation--which may or may not be the case depending upon the way in
which the content is created (an organization might separate authorial and
layout responsibilities among distinct individuals, or a single person may
be responsible for both aspects--the division of responsibilities is
irrelevant so far as the guidelines are concerned). One could always
define "author" as "the individual, group or organization responsible for
creating the content, including the machine-readable encoding thereof"
(not the best definition, admittedly, but I am not trying to make a
concrete proposal here).
Received on Thursday, 13 July 2000 20:22:16 UTC

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