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RE: conformance

From: Anne Pemberton <apembert@erols.com>
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 17:13:28 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

         replies inline

At 12:09 PM 10/11/01 -0700, Cynthia Shelly wrote:
>On the issue of levels of conformance:
>Speaking as someone who implemented WCAG 1.0 on a major site, I would
>have to say that my issues with the conformance scheme weren't that it
>had three levels, but that it had ONLY 3 levels.  There was no way to
>say "I did this one, and that one, and I kind of did this, but I
>couldn't do that and here's why".
>As Kynn (and others) have pointed out many times, if an author can't do
>one pri 2 item (and there are quite a few that are very hard), there is
>absolutely no incentive for him to any other pri 2 items.  He won't get
>credit for them.

Who is giving "credit"? Why do you want "credit" for doing part of a job? 
Explaining why you didn't do something that was needed isn't going to be of 
any benefit to a users whose needs are unmet.

Somehow this argument reminds me of a class of 8th grade boys that I had in 
my first year teaching who refused to do homework. In order to salvage 
something out of the matter, I required each boy who didn't do his homework 
to tell us a story explaining why, with the caveat that he couldn't use any 
stories that had already been used. None of the homework eschewers ever 
mended their ways, but their excuses became more creative as the common 
stories got used up. If we open the door to excuses, we will have the same 
results as I did! The excuses will become more creative instead of the 

>On the issue of the usefulness of metadata:
>If we were to publish a metadata scheme for conformance claims today, it
>would be immediately useful.
>1) A search engine could start using it tomorrow. The search engine
>could do this entirely in server-side code, and users would not need to
>download or install anything. Search engines use metadata for a variety
>of tasks already. This is not vaporware.

But these tasks have to be added to the search engine .... I tried the 
search engine in IE5, as suggested, but while it asks what kind of elements 
are to be included or dis-included, when I tried to use it to find a bank 
with enough images to help a person with limited reading skills, it failed 
to find such. I could set the results to only select sites with one or more 
images, but it didn't help determine if those images were illustrations or 

>2) An entry-level programmer could write, in about a week, an
>accessibility aid that filtered on conformance to checkpoints.  Users
>would have to install that, but they have to install screen readers too.

It's been said before that requiring the user to download a plug-in, such 
as Flash or Shockwave is a deterrent to accessibility. Wouldn't that apply 
here as well as with multi-media downloads?

>3) Browser manufacturers could incorporate filtering technology into
>their next releases.  They can't do that if there isn't a spec for it.
>While it's true that the PICS scheme for accessibility was not widely
>adopted, I think that was primarily an issue of it not being evangelized
>(Charles, correct me if I'm wrong here).  I implemented 1.0, and read
>many, many documents, but I was not aware of its existence until
>Charles' recent post.

If one scheme has already failed, why presume another would do better? This 
may be the time to "read the writing on the wall" ... Accessibility is too 
important to be led by evangelization. If hard evidence on the benefits 
does not prevail, then the matter needs to be carefully re-examined before 
putting out another wish list.

>On the issue of understandability by users:
>Perhaps it would be useful to give an example of another metadata scheme
>that is in widely adopted - content ratings.
>There is a PICS scheme defined for rating the naughtiness of a web site.
>This scheme is used by a variety of filtering programs, including one
>built into Internet Explorer.  If you go into the tools menu in IE, pick
>Internet Options, and click the Content tab, you will see something
>called "Content Advisor".  This allows you to tell your browser you
>don't want it to display anything dirty (using a 1-5 scale for language,
>nudity, etc).  How does your browser know something is dirty?  It looks
>at metadata.  You, as a user of this software, don't have to understand
>the metadata.  In fact, unless you've read the spec for the RSACi PICS
>tag, you won't understand it.  As tags go, it's pretty cryptic.  Most
>Web authors (even experienced ones) have to look it up.  However, that
>in no way prevents it from being useful to the end user. Some sites also
>display a logo, and post text describing how squeaky clean they are, but
>that is NOT how the browser knows.

Browsers are notoriously inadequate to the task - that's why schools and 
others with strong reasons to truly bar this type of content resort to good 
firewalls on their systems. "Dirty" sites are notorious for coming up in 
search engines that are looking for innocent content.

Of the two approaches, reporting on or linked to the page/site vs metadata, 
the metadata seems like the best long-term solution, but even that is 
probably years away from being useful. Those who would include metadata now 
are likely to update their pages one or more times before the metadata ever 
does any good. Metadata used in an early version could end up dropped 
because what gets adopted doesn't look like the first specs anyway.

>-----Original Message-----
>From: Anne Pemberton [mailto:apembert45@yahoo.com]
>Sent: Thursday, October 11, 2001 6:51 AM
>To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
>Subject: Re: conformance
>      Unless my perception isn't accurate, the version
>1.0 plan of three levels didn't work since few if any
>people bothered with level three. So why have three
>levels. It seems that two are enough. It's not that P3
>was ignored because it was the cognitive needs, but
>because the indication was that few people were
>supposed to be left out at the P3 level. Whoever's
>needs are in P3, unless they are purely fluff (gee it
>would be nice's), are going to be ignored.
>     Yes, I have said it would be nice if folks could
>find the pages that meet their needs, but from what
>I've seen of the reporting schemes, this information
>will not be accessible to the ordinary user. Therefore
>the reporting schemes would not satisfy the need for
>users to be able to find content that suits their
>needs. Again, I see no audience for the reporting
>scheme and it seems a waste of time. Maybe it could go
>in the "it would be nice if you did it" category, or
>in the "when user agents can use it" category.
>Remember that the reporting scheme needs to be fully accessible, usable,
>and understandable, if it is ever to be used by users.
>--- Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org> wrote:
>  > The problem of most accommodations for cognitive
>  > disabilities being only P3
>  > will not be solved by removing the priority level,
>  > it can only be solved by
>  > changing the priority of individual requirements.
>  > This is not to say that we
>  > should not consider a two-level scheme, just that
>  > the argument you give here
>  > doesn't justify it.
>  >
>  > You then identify one need for a reporting scheme -
>  > the desire to start with
>  > a base level, and support for known audience (e.g.
>  > there is one blind student
>  > in my class so it is more important to add the
>  > things that student definitely
>  > needs than things that someone might need one day).
>  >
>  > Of course, in a perfect world, all material will be
>  > "completely" accessible,
>  > but we don't live there yet - and won't until the
>  > tools people use to make
>  > Web content do most of it for them.
>  >
>  > Which leads to another audience for a reporting
>  > scheme. People in the process
>  > of producing content, especially where there is more
>  > than one person involved
>  > in the production, as is the case for many large
>  > sites, need to know what
>  > they have done and what still needs doing. A
>  > reasonably standard method would
>  > enable people producing content to more easily use
>  > different tools, each for
>  > what they do best.
>  >
>  > I don't think this group needs to develop a
>  > reporting mechanism (in part
>  > because other groups in W3C are working hard on it,
>  > including the people who
>  > produce tools like Bobby, aprompt and the various
>  > plugins for assessing
>  > accessibility in authoring tools, who all believe
>  > they have an audience). But
>  > it is important that the guidelines document at
>  > least enables such a scheme.
>  > Fortunately this is not hard, and it would be hard
>  > to produce a document that
>  > met our own requirements and did not do this.
>  >
>  > (Technically, what it requires is that each
>  > checkpoint have a URI, and with
>  > Xpath or Xpointer that means that each checkpoint is
>  > a seperate element,
>  > although ideally it would have an ID attribute. We
>  > need that to make the
>  > techniques documents useable anyway, and already
>  > have it in all the drafts
>  > we have produced to date. So in many ways it is a
>  > moot point.)
>  >
>  > Finally, given a decent reporting scheme we will
>  > enable people to find
>  > content that works for them, whether or not it is
>  > "completely accessible" - a
>  > need that you have often identified.
>  >
>  > Charles McCN
>  >
>  > On Thu, 11 Oct 2001, Anne Pemberton wrote:
>  >
>  >   In the triple-layer scheme, the accommodations for
>  > cognitive disabilities
>  >   were only required at the top level which conveyed
>  > a sense that they were
>  >   basically unnecessary, barring a lot of people
>  > from using sites. Reducing
>  >   the conformance to two levels eliminates the level
>  > no one ever strives for ...
>  >
>  >   Using the purpose of a site to determine what
>  > conformance level to use
>  >   makes the most sense to me. If a site has a
>  > limited audience, go for
>  >   minimum and add only what you need to serve your
>  > known audience .... but if
>  >   your site is for the general public, then it must
>  > comply such that everyone
>  >   can use it and none have the empty plate. To do
>  > anything less is to consign
>  >   some users to only using entertainment sites and
>  > never getting at any meat.
>  >
>  >   I see no need for a reporting system since there
>  > is no audience for the
>  >   reports. It's a waste of time.
>  >
>  >
>  > Anne
>  >
>  >
>  >
>Anne Pemberton
>Computer Teacher
>Southside Elementary School
>Dinwiddie, VA, USA 23894
>Do You Yahoo!?
>Make a great connection at Yahoo! Personals. http://personals.yahoo.com

Anne Pemberton

Received on Thursday, 11 October 2001 17:25:30 UTC

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