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Re: conformance to functionality classes Re: Proposals: Priority and Conformance schemes

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>
Date: Sun, 9 Sep 2001 12:17:50 +1000
Message-ID: <15258.53582.361919.337114@gargle.gargle.HOWL>
To: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Cc: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>, Web Content Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Charles McCathieNevile writes:
 > It also concerns me that there is a division of conformance based on serving
 > different groups of people - in other words that it is possible that it will
 > be possible to claim "WAI conformance" for a document that is comprehensible
 > to almost anyone but relies on images, sounds, and movies to get a message
 > across, without providing any kind of textual equivalent. (There are other
 > possible combinations which would lead to paralell situations - this is just
 > one example)

Yes, but it would be argued on the other side that such a conformance
claim is an accurate description of what the content developer has
done (i.e., in Charles' example, the implementor has satisfied the
needs related to comprehension but not those of device-independence,
with the result that the content will be very accessible to some
people and completely inaccessible to others). If the purpose of the
conformance scheme is to enable developers to make assertions,
accurately and verifiably, regarding which checkpoints, and therefore
which needs, have been met, then such a consequence is
unobjectionable.

However, if the purpose of the guidelines is to set a policy (for
example that the content must satisfy all three dimensions--device and
modality-independence, interaction/navigation, and comprehension
requirements--at some level before any conformance claim of any kind
can be made, thereby imposing, in effect, a policy on developers),
then Charles' concern becomes a valid objection to the kind of
proposal that I have outlined.

One of Kynn's criticisms of the WCAG 1.0 conformance scheme, as I
understand his argument, is that it is overly prescriptive in the way
in which it sets priorities and requires developers to privilege some
needs over others. The concept of a multi-dimensional conformance
scheme is intended to avoid this shortcoming.

Effectively the question which Charles raises, and it is one that I
have had occasion to consider as well, is whether it should be
permissible to assert that web content is accessible along some
dimensions and not others, or whether some degree of accessibility
along every dimension should be a prerequisite to the making of a
conformance claim. This very much depends upon how one regards the
role and purpose of the conformance scheme and the guidelines as a
whole. Is the purpose of the conformance scheme to allow unambiguous
statements regarding what has been accomplished, or to mandate that
the needs of certain groups must be met before any conformance claim
of any kind is permitted, thereby establishing a de facto
implementation policy?
Received on Saturday, 8 September 2001 22:18:00 GMT

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