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Re: "intro"

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 2000 18:01:17 +1100 (EST)
To: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.SOL.4.10.10009071737550.25829-100000@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>
Given that the guidelines are likely to be scrutinized carefully in a
variety of contents (by software developers, implementors, regulators,
policy analysts, etc.), I would agree with William that they must maintain
a high standard of clarity and precision, thus avoiding any informal
treatment of the subject.

The latter could be included, perhaps, in a section which is explicitly
identified as non-normative, or in a separate document, perhaps prepared
by EO (as they are more in contact with non-specialist audiences than we

Do we need to define our terms twice, once in an informal introduction
(perhaps worked on jointly with EO) and again in precise definitions that
would be designed to avoid the kind of ambiguity and misconstruction that
can easily arise when terms and concepts are not carefully explained and
used consistently.

For example, the term "textual equivalent" was introduced into WCAG 1.0
(and accompanying documents), at least in part as a response to the
inadequacies that had been identified in the existing nomenclature.
Specifically, the term "description" had to be avoided, as it was
inappropriate and misleading: a genuine "equivalent" to an image, for
example, achieves the same effect and plays the same role as the graphical
content, but often does not constitute a description of it. Emphasis is
placed on the function and meaning to be communicated in the context of
the document, rather than on a characterisation of the medium-specific
presentation for which the text provides a substitute.

Similar arguments apply to many of the other terms which have been
introduced in the course of developing the guidelines. They serve to
clarify concepts and, if used consistently, can actually facilitate
comprehension of the text (for example by avoiding long and repetitious
explanatory clauses in sentences).

Thus, writing on my own behalf and not in my capacity as co-chair, I would
urge that informal explanations be either avoided or provided in sections
of the working group's deliverables that are clearly identified as
illucidatory and non-normative.
Received on Thursday, 7 September 2000 03:03:21 UTC

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