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Re: Accessibility and freedom of expression

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-edapta@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Sun, 9 Dec 2001 21:40:12 -0800
Message-Id: <a05101004b839f94001e2@[]>
To: "Charles F. Munat" <chas@munat.com>, W3C WAI GL <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
At 7:54 PM -0800 12/9/01, Charles F. Munat wrote:
>There are some things that *must* be accessible: government sites, 
>e-commerce sites, some media sites, etc. [...]
>There are some sites that have no need of accessibility. Personal 
>sites come to mind. Sure, it would be nice if they were accessible, 
>but an individual's right to free expression overrides a casual 
>user's right to access.
>Then there are sites that probably shouldn't be entirely accessible. [...]

I have no disagreement with the above.

>It should not be the intent of the WCAG to render everything on-line 
>intelligible to a three-year-old. To attempt to do so would be both 
>impossible and undesirable.

In my perfect world, WCAG doesn't try to accomplish anything like this
at all.  WCAG should be a statement of "how to make things more accessible"
and not a standard against which sites are forced to comply.

The standard for access need to be set by the appropriate site controllers,
not by WCAG.  WCAG 1.0 had the problem that it seemed to pretend like it
could set policy for the world, and then people were surprised when it
was rewritten (and parts scrapped) to make REAL policies.

WCAG 2.0 _should_ be an adjustable toolkit for policymakers and web
developers, which allows them to decice what applies, by giving them
the full knowledge necessary to make their decisions.

>I strongly recommend that we examine the question of *when* users 
>are entitled to access and when those needs are overridden by the 
>author's right to self-expression. The assumptions we make should be 
>clearly stated in the guidelines.

I think we need to not even make those assumptions at all.  I don't want
us to do any sort of blanket decision-making as to the issue of author's
choice vs. user's needs -- the decision needs to be made by the site

I'm not expecting Charles (Munat) to necessarily disagree with me on
this; what I'm saying is actually in much agreement with what he's

The main points I'd want you all to get from this are:

      * We are _not_ (and never have been, and never will be) setting
        policy by creating WCAG guidelines

      * WCAG cannot make any attempt to "enforce" anything because
        WCAG is not "policy"

      * One size does not fit all, and as Charles articulated, sites
        of differing types will, by their nature, have different
        requirements on policy

      * It would be folly for this group to try to decide for every
        possible type of site (or of content) what is the appropriate
        policy for access

      * Attempts to do so, or to determine a monolithic pseudo-
        policy for access, are doomed to failure and should NOT be
        pursued by this working group

That is all, have a :) day!


Kynn Bartlett <kynn@idyllmtn.com>
Received on Monday, 10 December 2001 00:42:42 UTC

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