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Structure and organization of WCAG 2.0

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>
Date: Wed, 16 Aug 2000 10:45:31 +1000 (EST)
To: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.SOL.4.10.10008161007350.23776-100000@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>
In response to several of the comments which have been made in the recent
discussion, I would point out the following:

1. Evaluation and repair tools which can determine the accessibility of a
web resource (currently limited in functionality to HTML), have been and
are continuing to be developed under the auspices of the Evaluation and
Repair tools working group: see http://www.w3.org/WAI/er/ig/ for details
of the ER working and interest groups. This activity is based on WCAG 1.0.

2. Wendy's draft of principle 1 (to use the provisional WCAG 2.0
terminology), apart from improvements that could be made to the wording,
is an accurate reflection of the structure which has been under discussion
since the March face to face meeting as satisfying the requirements of the
various communities that have interests in such guidelines.

The only remaining issue is to determine how the three layers ought to be
divided among the several documents which this working group is required
to deliver.

I think there is a strong case for arguing that the intermediate layer
(the technology-neutral requirements which are grouped under the general
principles) should form the basis of the conformance definition. However,
if a web resource satisfies the technology-specific requirements
subsumed under a particular (normative) requirement from the intermediate
layer, this should be deemed to satisfy the latter requirement for
purposes of conformance. The foregoing sentence is somewhat complicated by
my attempt to avoid the nomenclature debate.

A consequence of this is that the practicing content designer need only be
concerned, under ordinary circumstances, with the technology-specific
requirements. If, however, it is desired to determine whether a novel
implementation technique, an extension to a markup language or other
standard, etc., is accessible, then it becomes necessary to have recourse
to the guidelines--that is to say, the higher levels of abstraction.

To clarify an argument which I advanced yesterday, no one, to my
knowledge, has maintained that content developers ought not to read the
guidelines, or that the latter should be inscrutable and vague. Rather,
the contention has been that most content developers should not need to
read the guidelines in order to generate accessible materials. In
particular, the task of applying the more general requirements so as to
generate the technology-specific implementation strategies, should only
fall to the content developer under circumstances in which a novel
solution, a language extension or a new technology is involved, for which
specific requirements have not been defined by this working group, or in
regard to which the content developer has created a solution that he or
she considers accessible and wishes to know whether it is. Under those
conditions it is necessary to move beyond technology-specific requirements
to a more abstract and general level of thinking (which need not and
should not be correlated with vagueness--vagueness and generality are
distinct concepts and the one need not accompany the other).

The fact that there are interested parties who need a higher level of
generality than that provided in WCAG 1.0, and others who justifiably
demand greater specificity, implies that in order to satisfy both
requirements, a three-layered division is necessary--or at least this is
what the general consensus appears to be. There are many constraints
imposed on the development of the guidelines by the various interested
parties who wish to utilize them, and the current proposal is one means of
satisfying them.
Received on Tuesday, 15 August 2000 20:47:18 GMT

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