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RE: FW: 4.1

From: john_slatin <john_slatin@forum.utexas.edu>
Date: Mon, 3 Jun 2002 22:12:25 -0500
Message-ID: <6AC4E20EED49D411941400D0B77E52F0074B9144@forum.cc.utexas.edu>
To: "'Charles McCathieNevile'" <charles@w3.org>, Lisa Seeman <seeman@netvision.net.il>
Cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org

Charles' message presupposes that it is possible to make an absolute
distinction between "the content itself" of a document on the one hand, and
on the other hand "the language used to express the content."

I'm sorry, but I do not accept this premise.  Different language is
different content.  Even when the writer is making a good faith effort to
express what she or he believes to be the "same idea" in different ways, the
browser renders different "Web content" and the *reader* encounters
different "content" on the page: different words, different phrases,
different sentences, different rhythms, different images (whether manifest
in verbal or visual form), etc.

It seems to me that clinging to the notion that "content" is a separate,
highly stable entity that isn't affected by the "container" may actually
make our job harder, not easier.  Expressed as an equation, the concept of
relativity is quite different from the concept of relativity expressed in a
series of sentences; I may understand the sentences, but I do not know how
to work the equations.  The understanding I may derive from reading the
sentences may serve me well enough, but only as long as I'm not trying to do

Let's say we have two pages.  Both are about relativity, but each uses a
very different vocabulary, a different syntax, a different representational
technique, a different explanatory strategy, a different rhetorical
approach.  If we allow that these two pages have a shared topic but
*different content*, it seems to me that we then gain the ability to talk
about *both* the common problems facing anyone who tries to write/present
ideas about relativity, *and* the distinctive features of each site, the
unique accessibility challenges that each one faces and the unique solutions
each one develops.  Those challenges have much less to do with relativity
(or whatever the subject matter happens to be) than with the techniques the
author has chosen for talking about it; thinking about accessibility from
the outset will likely shape those choices, mitigating against certain
choices and for others.  By contrast, I get confused when we say these two
pages have the "same content" though it's expressed in completely different
language.  I don't know where that "content" resides: it's *not* in the
document (literally, the content of the document consists of a set of
alphanumeric characters, references to some image and sound files perhaps,
some markup, etc., and the two documents aren't the same in this regard); so
then we find ourselves trying to make something accessible that isn't
actually *there* in the document.


-----Original Message-----
From: Charles McCathieNevile [mailto:charles@w3.org]
Sent: Monday, June 03, 2002 8:39 PM
To: Lisa Seeman
Cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Subject: Re: FW: 4.1

No, we are not saying anything about the content itself. We are only
discussing the language used to express the content.

If I go to the library and find a book full of complex language and a book
full of plain language describing the same content I choose the one with the
plain language.

If I need to recommend something for other people to use I am more inclined
to think about how well the language is written. Not in terms of artistic
merit, in terms of technical use of language to convey information - sort of
like the idea of building a bridge that can carry the vehicles that are
to cross it.

The requirement has nothing to do with the complexity of the ideas or
information being expressed. Which is why I proposed wording that doesn't
mention those things.



  -----Original Message-----
  From: Lee Roberts [mailto:leeroberts@roserockdesign.com]
  Sent: Friday, May 31, 2002 1:10 PM
  To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
  Subject: RE: 4.1

  I concur with Chaals.  However, I have the same question as before.

  If we say this, are we saying that the content must be written to a level
  that everyone would understand.  If a thesis, article, or scientific paper
  is published on the Internet so others might be able to use the
  is this then required to be easily understood by everyone?

  It seems constraining and possibly discrediting to the individual's work
  studies. Or even discrediting to the business' research.  If we go to the
  library and do research on a scientific research project we expect to see
  tough language and concepts.  Wouldn't this also apply to the Internet?


  -----Original Message-----
  From: w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org]On
  Behalf Of Charles McCathieNevile
  Sent: Friday, May 31, 2002 11:17 AM
  To: Lisa Seeman
  Cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
  Subject: Re: 4.1

  I think the requirement belongs, but I agree that "as the author feels
  appropriate" weakens the requirement beyond any point of usefulness. It
  makes self-fulfilling the claim (which I do not believe as consensus) that
  is not possible to provide relatively objective success criteria (our 80%
  rule) for this checkpoint.

  How about "Use language that is easy to understand" as the text. This
  no comment on the complexity of the content being described, does not
  to incorporate success criteria such as "what the author thinks is
  appropriate" into the checkpoint, and allows for success criteria to be
  provided as well as additional techniques to be offered.



  On Fri, 31 May 2002, Lisa Seeman wrote:

    I would like to object to 4.1 (and 4.2) - write as clearly and simply as
    author feels appropriate for the content

    I would prefer that the checkpoint is omitted entirely.

    As it stands a site that is entirely inaccessible to people in terms of
    conforms to 4.1 can claim conformance to 4.1.
    This will serve to confuse people as to what sites are and are not
    accessible to them

    I also feel that "as appropriate for content " is offensive as most
    are not thinking in terms of linguistic art, but in terms of abilities.

    In other words people will assume that WCAG thinks that there is content
    were people with severe cognitive disabilities could not understand. I
    prefer such a checkpoint should not be written


  Charles McCathieNevile    http://www.w3.org/People/Charles  phone: +61 409
  134 136
  W3C Web Accessibility Initiative     http://www.w3.org/WAI  fax: +33 4 92
  78 22
  Location: 21 Mitchell street FOOTSCRAY Vic 3011, Australia
  (or W3C INRIA, Route des Lucioles, BP 93, 06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex,

Charles McCathieNevile    http://www.w3.org/People/Charles  phone: +61 409
134 136
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative     http://www.w3.org/WAI  fax: +33 4 92 38
78 22
Location: 21 Mitchell street FOOTSCRAY Vic 3011, Australia
(or W3C INRIA, Route des Lucioles, BP 93, 06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex,
Received on Monday, 3 June 2002 23:13:33 UTC

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