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Re: Compliance ratings

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>
Date: Tue, 24 Apr 2001 13:34:56 +1000
Message-ID: <15076.62560.467407.740245@gargle.gargle.HOWL>
To: Web Content Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
It has been argued on various occasions, dating back almost to the
release of WCAG 1.0, that the best form of compliance claim would be
one in which checkpoint-by-checkpoint assertions were made in RDF.
These could be produced by automated and manual testing procedures and
would be accurate down to the checkpoint level. Such an RDF vocabulary
is being developed by the Education and Outreach working group. Tools
could be written that would enable conformance claims to be assessed
automatically in terms of a particular disability type, or allow
searching for content that purported to implement specific
checkpoints.

What hasn't been decided by this working group, however, is to what
extent such a "conformance" language should supplant the over-all
ratings provided by WCAG 1.0. In this context it may be helpful to
consider multidimensional rating schemes. One question that comes to
mind, however, is to what extent a rating system organised by
"disability type" would work, given that many of the checkpoints in
the guidelines are applicable to several categories of disability.
Would the distinct ratings, when applied to the same content, be
meaningfully different?

What is of greater concern, however, is that "optimizing" content for
persons with a particular kind of disability is contrary to the notion
of general accessibility (universal design or whatever one prefers to
call it) which the guidelines are intended to promote. After all,
these guidelines are intended to answer the question: given the web
content that I have created (or want to create), how can I make it
accessible to as broad a range of people as practicable, in a
non-discriminatory way? What factors will have a greater or lesser
impact on accessibility, and of what do I need to be satisfied in
order to claim, with reasonable justification, that, in respect of my
web content, substantial barriers to access have been minimized?

Separate ratings based on disability type do not appear to answer
those questions, and they may even encourage implementors to ignore
some requirements/disabilities in favour of others, engendering rather
than removing discrimination.
Received on Monday, 23 April 2001 23:35:25 GMT

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