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user needs vs author needs RE: Agenda

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 5 Oct 2001 07:31:25 -0400 (EDT)
To: Anne Pemberton <apembert@erols.com>
cc: Web Content Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.30.0110050719560.8193-100000@tux.w3.org>
Summary: There are cases where a checkpoint must be marked not applicable,
since meeting the checkpoint would contradict the purpose of some content. We
should provide examples of where this makes sense, and where it does not.


These scenarios are all real scenarios, where there is a need perceived by
the author to do things in a way which does not allow every user access to
all the content. So in these scenarios the author is not going to meet all
the requirements we are likely to have for aking content "accessible".

That's fine. This content isn't necessarily accessible. The reasons why it
might not be are encapsulated in the checkpoints the content doesn't meet.
Authors in this situation can choose to make content as accessible as
possible given their other constraints (by meeting all the rest of the
checkpoints, for example) or they can ignore all other accessibility as well.

On the other hand, suggesting that the layout and presentation of a form is a
requirement just doesn't wash. If a form is printed with a fixed layout to
provide a regular secret ballot in an election, then it simply fails for a
person who is blind, and they are therefore deprived of their legal right to
a secret ballot. So the claim that this format cannot be changed doesn't
work - it still fails to meet the requirements. Requiring fixed colours
doesn't work either. Someone with a visual disability has the facility to
change the colouring into black and white, to photo-reverse it, to enlarge
sections, to cut pieces out altogether in order to make it clearer. They are
going to do that if it is possible, and if it is not possible they are not
able to use the content.

In a legal context, the undue burden would be generally in meeting the
specific checkpoint that conflicts with teh needs of some scenario. For
example, if testing people's colour acuity via the Web, it makes sense to
have tests which do rely on the ability to understand content through colour
alone, thus breaking checkpoint 2.1 in WCAG 1.0. This does not provide any
rationale for relying on scripts to make the system work, thus also
failing some other WCAG 1.0 checkpoints, and arguing that the whole thing did
not apply since one part of it presented an undue burden would certainly fail
in Australian law. (I don't know how it would go in US law).

A reporting mechanism, that enabled such an author to explain how they had
met every other checkpoint, and why they argued that a particular checkpoint
did not apply to a situation, would be helpful, especially if we provided
some examples (such as the colour testing scenario) and explained why having
it rely on scripting would still fail WCAG 1.0.


On Fri, 5 Oct 2001, Anne Pemberton wrote:


           You are on the money -- that is one of the elephants in the needs
  conflict issue. I was thinking of those who design content for a specific
  audience (such as teachers),  who can use content that is highly
  appropriate for the target audience, but making it available to all would
  be an undue burden (e.g. making multi-media scripts, etc.) ... if the
  author's needs aren't addresses the choice is to go ahead and ignore
  accessibility, which means not everyone can use the content, or just skip
  the idea and no one gets the content...


  At 05:27 PM 10/4/01 -0700, Cynthia Shelly wrote:
  >On the Author and user needs conflict issue...
  >When we originally discussed it, the example was distracting
  >advertising.  The author is intentionally changing the user's focus from
  >what the user considers to be the primary content (the news article) to
  >what the author considers to be the primary content (the ad).  From the
  >author's viewpoint, he has made his primary content (the ad) *MORE*
  >accessible with by adding dancing hamsters (or whatever).
  >This is a real need for the author.  If he is not successful at this, he
  >won't get as many advertisers, or his advertisers won't pay as much, and
  >he'll go out of business, taking his secondary content (the news
  >article) with him.
  >The user probably won't see it this way, and will find that he has been
  >distracted from the primary content (the news article) by the secondary
  >content (the ad).
  >-----Original Message-----
  >From: Charles McCathieNevile [mailto:charles@w3.org]
  >Sent: Thursday, October 04, 2001 8:30 AM
  >To: Jason White
  >Cc: Web Content Guidelines
  >Subject: Re: Agenda
  >Probable regrets. Here are my thoughts on the agenda items:
  >I only agree with R1 as long as R2 is also a matter for consensus.
  >N3 -  normative is determined by objectiveness  -- ease of establishing
  >consensus on fulfillment.
  >Seems to me too vaguely / briefly written. I understand it as meaning
  >that a requirement for being normative is that we can develop success
  >criteria where there is general agreement in the group on those
  >criteria, and (implicitly, but very significantly) on whether various
  >test cases pass or fail.  (I also see N3, N4 and N5 as essentially the
  >same thing, although I don't think that hurts. It means that if someone
  >else thinks we can have one but can not have another of them then there
  >isn't consensus on what they mean)
  >Big issues:
  >Author and user needs conflict, user and user needs conflict.
  >In general we need to ensure that user needs are met, and we need to
  >work as hard as we can to find ways of doing this that meet authors
  >needs. We need to understand whether author needs are needs
  >(communicating information) or desires (having a site use a particular
  >technology for demonstration, no matter what the consequences). If they
  >are desires, then it is acceptable that they lose in a conflict, but
  >where possible we should seek win-win solutions to the problems. In many
  >cases these exist.
  >User versus user needs is something we need to look at on a case by case
  >basis. But it is also a test we need to apply to every normative
  >requirement anyway - if this is done is some group being cut out?
  >(assuming that the rest of the requirements are applied makes this
  >easier, but makes conformance as opposed to simple reporting more
  >I have not had time to follow the most recent thread, but I do have a
  >number of thoughts about conformance. Hopefully I will be able to follow
  >up in the next couple of days.

  Anne Pemberton


Charles McCathieNevile    http://www.w3.org/People/Charles  phone: +61 409 134 136
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative     http://www.w3.org/WAI    fax: +1 617 258 5999
Location: 21 Mitchell street FOOTSCRAY Vic 3011, Australia
(or W3C INRIA, Route des Lucioles, BP 93, 06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France)
Received on Friday, 5 October 2001 07:31:26 UTC

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