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Re: "intro"

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Thu, 07 Sep 2000 11:32:33 -0400
Message-Id: <200009071521.LAA421012@smtp1.mail.iamworld.net>
To: "Web Content Accessibility Guidelines" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
1.  You have made a reasonable case that there is a problem.  Do you have a
rough estimate of a solution?  What audience(s) do you think the WCAG we
are developing should target, i.e. should serve or should focus on?

2.  I agree that any abstract statements should be tightly bound to
concrete examples so people can understand what they are being told.  On
the other hand, I have an audience known as the XML Working Group, that we
have to convince to get core functions included in what is known as XML
Core.  For this campaign of persuasion, abstract statements are essential
to conveying that what is asked for is a) simple and b) of widespread
benefit, hence meriting inclusion in the core.

So at least from my little corner of fighting the wildfire, abstract
principles that actually summarize what is needed well would be a very
valuable asset.

To try to follow my own dictum, let me offer an example.  This is the
proposition that all web pages should have a "navigable, hierarchical
content decomposition."  What does this mean?  

It means:

a) the markup in the document shall encode a hierarchical breakdown of its
content; 
b) the user agent shall support navigation in terms of this encoded
structure and 
c) the author shall ensure that the principal parts of the content
identified in this hierarchy decompose the content effectively and are
clearly identified so that the user can be oriented to their navigation
options when moving through the document following this structure.

The phrase "navigable, hierarchical content decomposition" is pretty
academic.  It is also pretty definitive.  Once you understand the terms it
is quite testable.


In order to make headway in reforming the tool and format infrastructure of
the Web I believe that we need to be identifying our recommended techniques
at this level of abstraction.  I know it will go straight past many people
we need to reach.  But it has to be in our arsenal, somewhere, or I offer
little hope that the changes that take place in the formats and tools will
be helping us.

This doesn't have to be the central focus of the WCAG.  But it has to be
coming out of the WAI somewhere.  And what is coming out of the WAI
everywhere has to deliver a coherent message.

Al

At 06:30 AM 2000-09-07 -0700, Kynn Bartlett wrote:
>At 7:22 PM -0700 9/6/00, William Loughborough wrote:
>>WL: I think one of the problems we have is that when we write for ourselves
>>formality and precision are called for; when we write for people who have
>>trouble understanding the guidelines formality and precision are equated
>>with opacity and inaccessibility (in the "intellectual" sense).
>>Although we and more particularly EO threaten to make the materials more
>>"clear and simple" it is still a pretty speech with no music if you take my
>>meaning.
>
>This is my fear exactly.  Well, actually my fear is that we are going
>out of our way to obfuscate -- I mean, "to make things more complex
>than they have to be" -- because we _are_ writing for ourselves.  And
>I am very worried as to what we expect the final product to be when
>we're done.
>
>>Our intended audience is not other
>>members of our choir but people who want to comply, conform, etc. but when
>>they try to find out how are faced with the language of professors.
>
>Well, whenever I _try_ to clarify who "our intended audience" is,
>I get that we must be all things to all people, I get told that
>academics are our core readers, I get told that we must be as
>technical (read: academic and obfuscating as possible), I get told
>that we're writing "for EO" because they will magically translate
>the document into understandable English (something which, frankly,
>has NEVER happened, well, except when I did it on my own), and I
>get told that the whole question of audience doesn't matter.
>
>Gregg's comment at a previous teleconference -- which was "if we
>don't make something useful, people will use something else" --
>still rings in my ears.  I think that we need to be careful not to
>dismiss issues of audience and goals, and I think (from speaking
>with a number of people at various companies and organizations,
>most of whom can't -- for political reasons -- state clearly the
>problems with current guidelines) that our current path may lead
>us too close to disaster.
>
>--Kynn
>-- 
>--
>Kynn Bartlett <kynn@idyllmtn.com>
>http://www.kynn.com/
> 
Received on Thursday, 7 September 2000 11:16:46 GMT

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