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RE: Illustrating Guidelines

From: Bailey, Bruce <Bruce.Bailey@ed.gov>
Date: Thu, 10 May 2001 11:29:58 -0400
Message-ID: <5DCA49BDD2B0D41186CE00508B6BEBD0022DAF26@wdcrobexc01.ed.gov>
To: 3WC WCAG <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>, "'love26@gorge.net'" <love26@gorge.net>
William recently wrote:

	> We so often speak of "requirements" that we forget who we are - 
	> recommenders, not regulators. I no longer have any doubt that we
	> (strongly?) *recommend* that all the marvelous features of the 
	> communicative process be used, with proper options for the user to
	> which to ignore/utilize/modify. When this is too great a burden on
	> designer they simply won't "comply" but that's up to some complex
	> contract to allow/prohibit.

I respectfully disagree, but I acknowledge that is probably due to how the
Section 508 Standards have changed my thinking.

As I understand it, we have consciously decided that the WCAG is
"guidelines" and that we are, in fact, working on "best practices" document.
I suggest that this may be something of a "cop out".  The term "guideline"
-- the G in WCAG after all -- was mostly due to the fact the WAI (and the
W3C for that matter) has absolutely no enforcement powers whatsoever.  We
could call  them "standards" (WCAS?) -- or even requirements -- but such
verbiage would be meaningless.  The W3C HTML "specifications" falls under
the category "technical recommendations".  (Still no use of the words
"requirements" or "standards".)  The WCAG (1 and 2) includes a number of
nebulous items which are import, but hard to fully delineate.  As
unenforceable theoretical "guidelines" this is acceptable.  I would like to
suggest that this may be cavalier laziness (or perhaps merely wishful
thinking) on our part, although it does allow us to compose a broader
document (which mitigates against the laziness argument).

We have seen some bodies adopt the WCAG as "standards" -- at least as policy
-- on the P1 or P2 level.  Presumably, the organizations involved include
some enforcement and remediation mechanisms.  When the WAI got the chance,
Judy and Gregg (and others I am sure) advocated that all WCAG P2 items be
incorporated, verbatim, into the 508 standards.  This, I think, would have
been a legal disaster if it had occurred!  At the very least, these real
life examples illustrate that we should be mindful of the potential powerful
implications of our "recommendations".

I suggest that our work will be much more influential if we aim for
"requirements" instead "recommendations" and "standards" instead  of

-- Bruce
Received on Thursday, 10 May 2001 11:30:32 UTC

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