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Re: Illustrations for content

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>
Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2001 10:03:14 +1000
Message-ID: <15209.59970.955429.950164@gargle.gargle.HOWL>
To: Kynn Bartlett <kynn@reef.com>
Cc: "Matt May" <mcmay@bestkungfu.com>, "Wendy A Chisholm" <wendy@w3.org>, <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Kynn Bartlett writes:
 > My fear is that our reliance on being a "checklist" and not a "set of
 > excellent principles and advice" has so limited our way of thinking
 > that we are unable to see the value of simply stating the 4 points
 > above!  Because we MUST draft everything as "checkpoints", we lose out
 > on the idea of "guidelines" which are good and useful.

WCAG 2.0 is a "Recommendation-track" document of the W3C and, as such,
must provide normative requirements to which implementors (that is,
web content developers) can claim conformance. So much is clear from
the working group's Charter and from the nature of the task before it.
Indeed, this point is not open to dispute within the working group;
and nor do I interpret Kynn's remarks as challenging it.

Several proposals have been advanced to address the distinction
between normative statements and what has variously been referred to
as "good advice", "usability", and "rules of thumb". These include
(see recent discussion):

1. Including these considerations explicitly in the guidelines, but in
   a separate, non-normative, section.

2. Discussing them in the introduction and at other relevant
   (non-normative) points in the text.

It has also been suggested more than once that conformance should
become multi-dimensional; that is, issues associated with
comprehension (guideline 3) may occupy a separate category for the
purpose of making conformance claims. As Gregg has pointed out,
cognitive issues such as those addressed under guideline 3, undercut
the priority scheme of WCAG 1.0, in so far as it can be shown that
most of the checkpoints can, individually, make the difference between
access and lack of access for definable groups of people under certain

Thus I think there are several issues surrounding checkpoint 3.4:

1. Clarifying what, precisely, is required of content developers. This
   can be achieved to some extent in the examples accompanying the
   checkpoint, in tecniques documents, and in any success criteria
   that may be associated with the checkpoint. Note that the current
   "success criteria" will be treated as examples in the next draft.
   Naturally, as several participants in this discussion have
   mentioned, it is not possible to provide authors with instruction
   on how to communicate (visually, auditorily etc.) in these
   guidelines, any more than one can teach clarity and precision in
   writing by way of an explication of checkpoint 3.3.

2. Determining under what circumstances "non-text supplements":

a. allow individuals who would otherwise find it impossible to access
the content, to access it (this corresponds to the definition of
Priority 1 in WCAG 1.0).

b. Remove significant barriers to access for identifiable groups of
users by substantially facilitating comprehension of the content (WCAG
1.0, priority 2).

c. Aid comprehension, but do not remove significant barriers to

d. Are unhelpful and/or unnecessary.

Thus I would summarise the issue as involving questions of success
criteria, conformance and prioritization. The examples and discussion
in the draft (as have emerged from recent discussion) aim to clarify
the first point to some extent (even if success criteria as such prove
to be unattainable) but the conformance and prioritization issues
remain unresolved and I think it is here that most of the vexing
problems surrounding this checkpoint lie. Needless to say, the same
issues apply to other checkpoints in the document as well.
Received on Thursday, 2 August 2001 20:04:33 UTC

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