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Re: New CSS Techniques draft

From: Jo Miller <jo@bendingline.com>
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2001 07:32:00 -0400
Message-Id: <p05100300b77b06b18db7@[]>
To: Wendy A Chisholm <wendy@w3.org>, w3c-wai-gl@w3.org

Thanks for all your great work on the new CSS Techniques 2.0 draft. I 
have a couple of initial ruminations, very general.

As we were discussing the other day, convincing web developers to use 
CSS (properly) and abandon the misuse of HTML for presentation is a 
real challenge, for a variety of reasons. The CSS Techniques document 
will play a key role in encouraging and easing adoption if we present 
the information in a way that conistently resonates with these web 
authors. Your draft makes an excellent start, I think, by 
anticipating and answering their main question right at the 
beginning: "why? what's in it for me?" From my point of view, section 
1 (author benefits and user benefits, new in 2.0) may be the most 
critical part of the document. Much depends on setting the right tone 
here and carrying it through the rest of the sections, reinforcing 
the message that CSS is an author's best friend (and not a confusing 
mass of pitfalls and headaches, as they may previously have thought).

I'd like to continue thinking about these 
audience/presentation/positioning issues as we move forward. Perhaps 
it's too optimistic to think that by "putting honey on the page" we 
can turn a critical mass of web designers into accessibility 
advocates, but hey, might as well try.

Explaining, if only briefly, the reasoning behind the rules will do 
much to foster a true understanding (and adoption) of the techniques. 
Whenever we say "do x, don't do y," we ought to tell them why, with 
positive emphasis on the benefits. Again, this will help overcome the 
widepread misapprehension among designers that CSS is a drag.

I also think the Techniques should emphasize, perhaps repeatedly, the 
need for testing style sheets on multiple browsers and platforms. By 
the way, using <PRE> for examples in combination with a 75% box width 
for .example and .css-example 
(http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/WCAG20/style/default.css) creates text that 
overruns the right-hand borders of the boxes at narrow screen 
resolutions (and on IE5 for Mac at 800x600). This might become a 
problem if, in some readers' minds, it undermines the case for CSS.

Wendy, I'd be happy to work with you on this if you think I've got 
anything of value to contribute. Thanks again.


>A new CSS Techniques draft is available at:
>The open issues and list of to do's is at:
>The change log, which is not terribly detailed, is at:
>Note that instead of creating "checkpoint solutions" or 
>"technology-specific checkpoints" or "evaluation criteria" I created 
>an assessment section that will provide tests to perform (it's not 
>yet complete).  I wrestled with writing evaluation criteria.  There 
>was so much to update in this document, that I just began at the 
>beginning.  There is still much to update, but it's a start.
>This took much longer than I had expected because I ran into several 
>issues with presenting the info - trying to find the most effective 
>way.  I decided to take a more pedigogical approach.  I'm not sure 
>if it works and I know that it doesn't yet meet all of the needs we 
>are trying to address.  I also haven't completed the overhaul, but I 
>wanted to get something out there for people to begin thinking about.
>Primarily, I wanted to begin thinking about the differences between 
>CSS for HTML and CSS for XML.  I want to make sure that the WCAG 2.0 
>checkpoints can handle the differences.
>This process has raised a few questions:
>1. Who wants to work with me on this? Should we start a sub-group 
>and report results back to the list?  Kind of like what Katie and 
>Loretta are doing with PDF?  However, I would like to publicly 
>archive discussions, and tehrefore keep them on wai-gl, but with a 
>subject heading of "[CSS-TECHS] subject X".
>2. Linking between techniques documents will be interesting.
>3. WCAG 2.0 currently says, "4.4 Design content so that when 
>presentation effects are turned off or not supported the content is 
>still usable. "  Which is still basically saying, "make sure the 
>page is usable when CSS is turned off."  As we've discussed, this 
>won't work for XML applications.  Is this an HTML-specific 
>I would like to give credit to a few key places that I found info 
>and inspiration:
>1. the wai-ig list, particularly comments from Charles Munat and David Woolley
>2. the css1 and css2 specs
>3. The National Cancer Institute's 508 Tutorial for style sheets: 
>4. IBM's Accessibility Center info on style sheets: 
>I look forward to comments.
>wendy a chisholm
>world wide web consortium
>web accessibility initiative
>seattle, wa usa
>tel: +1 206.706.5263

Jo Miller
Received on Wednesday, 18 July 2001 07:32:51 UTC

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