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Policy use, was RE: Illustrating Guidelines

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 11 May 2001 10:04:11 -0400 (EDT)
To: "Bailey, Bruce" <Bruce.Bailey@ed.gov>
cc: 3WC WCAG <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>, "'love26@gorge.net'" <love26@gorge.net>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.30.0105110955380.6694-100000@tux.w3.org>
Note: I consider that policy arguments are outside the scope of this group,
whose charter is to provide a document that specifies how to make content to
people regardless of disability. In fact, if we do fulfil our charter and
policymakers use it without ensuring that it is applicable to their
particular requirements I think the laziness charge does not fit this working
group, and we should be clear about this in our own document.

So there is nothing new in what follows:

On Thu, 10 May 2001, Bailey, Bruce wrote:

  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.
  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).

As enforceable laws regularly contain things like "reasonable judgement", for
concepts which are hard to delineate precisely, I would suggest that it is
perfectly sensible to use similar concepts in documenting best practice in a
particular field.

  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".

Unlike the US federal government, the Australian government has been happy to
say that the things in WCAG are required, using the language as is. (This is
a slight simplification - if you press them they will go into greater detail
about how the law works, but meeting all the requirements of WCAG is their
general statement of best practice, and their initial internal requirement is
level-A conformance to WCAG). Also unlike the US federal government in
Australia this stuff has actually been tested in court to the point of a
decision. Legal disaster did not ensue.

Charles' 2 centimes worth
Received on Friday, 11 May 2001 10:04:15 UTC

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