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Advocacy in WCAG 2.0

From: Charles F. Munat <chas@munat.com>
Date: Thu, 16 Aug 2001 12:47:57 -0700
To: "W3c-Wai-Gl@W3. Org" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

I've read through the past few drafts of version 2, and I keep coming across
wording that seems intended to advocate for accessibility. I think that
including such advocacy in the Guidelines is a mistake.

Here is an example from the Introduction:

"Have you ever read the captions on a TV in a store because the background
noise made it difficult to hear?"

IMO, the purpose of this question isn't to explain unexpected benefits of
the technology, but to try to *sell* accessibility to people who don't
consider themselves disabled.

I'm all for selling people on accessibility, but I think that the
specification is NOT the place to do it, not even in the introduction. Why?
Because if we're trying to sell it, then we are essentially saying that it
needs to be sold. That's the same as saying that some people might have good
reasons for not buying it. I think we should proceed in confidence from the
perspective that the need for accessibility is a given. Why would anyone be
reading the Guidelines if they weren't already concerned about accessibility
(for whatever reason)?

Talk about benefits, yes. But don't try to justify accessibility. It implies
that it needs justification.

The above example also presumes that our primary audience is people who can
hear and thus don't need to read captions and people who can see (otherwise
the captions are of no use). I don't think we should make assumptions about
our audience. In my mind, the above example implies that we're writing these
guidelines to try to convince temporarily abled persons to make their sites
accessible, rather than trying to provide accessibility guidelines to

Finally, the whole rhetorical question technique sounds like marketing to
me. Please, please, please can there be at least one place on-line where I
don't have to suffer through a marketing pitch?

I'm willing to rewrite the Introduction to provide an example of a
non-advocacy version, if anyone else is interested. Then we can compare and
see which works better.

I'll be at the telecon today (I hope) and willing to discuss this issue.

Chas. Munat
Received on Thursday, 16 August 2001 15:45:41 UTC

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