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Re: Action Item: 3.3 Proposal (Writing Style)

From: Anne Pemberton <apembert@erols.com>
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2001 20:25:35 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: Matt May <mcmay@bestkungfu.com>
Cc: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-edapta@idyllmtn.com>, w3c-wai-gl@w3.org

    	As a career teacher, I have made a huge number of decisions based on
readability scales. A few weren't worth their salt, but those based on
syllable and word density were extremely useful, and clearly indicated
which material would be usable by which student based on a decent test of
their reading ability. 

	As a writer, I typically addressed those with one or more degrees in
education, and my writing starts out at a high level on a reading scale. In
order to make myself understandable to school children, I have to simplify
and clarify, include illustrations, and define terms ... It does take some
work to bring it down, but it's do-able, and if the checkpoints specify
"generic" reading level ranges, and exclude all quotable and copyrighted
content, I don't see that it deserves to be flushed ...


At 05:01 PM 3/12/01 -0800, Matt May wrote:
>On Mon, 12 Mar 2001, Anne Pemberton wrote:
>> 	Don't throw out the checkpoint. It is very, very necessary, even if it
>> takes a lot of words to make room for the valid exceptions you make.
>I don't think it's possible to formulate a normative checkpoint out of
>"write clearly and simply." If you thought creating a user-agent baseline
>was fun, creating a language baseline which this could satisfy would be a
>blast. Not only would we need to define what constitutes accessible
>authoring in multiple languages and media, we'd have to prescribe
>appropriate levels for every scenario in order to measure compliance.
>In relating your story about the government webmaster, I think you pointed
>out one major problem with leaving the checkpoint in: the webmaster
>believed the site was compliant because it met the terms that were
>verifiable, while you felt it wasn't because it failed to meet terms
>that were vague. Since the decision to claim compliance rests with a
>site's designers, I think it's imperative that the bar they're reaching
>for is well-defined, or they won't try at all. (I see similar issues
>with 3.4 ["Use Multimedia to illustrate concepts"] and 3.7 ["Divide
>information into smaller, more manageable units"].)
>Another trouble spot in applying rules to grammar within content is
>that content aggregators (which is to say, every portal and news site, not
>to mention every site with a guest book or bulletin board) have no shot at
>complying, because they don't control the content they present.
>I do think, though, that there needs to be somewhere to put strongly
>worded suggestions that are as important to accessibility as anything that
>can be measured. I can only suggest a "design principles" document, and a
>checkpoint that says, "read _this document_."
Anne Pemberton

Received on Monday, 12 March 2001 20:21:15 UTC

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