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Re: Request for Review: WCAG 2.0 Working Draft

From: Bob Regan <bregan@macromedia.com>
Date: Wed, 25 Sep 2002 14:38:11 -0700
Message-ID: <5DB489EF44C5444A9974E3E934CD834C0411F42A@ex-600town-03.macromedia.com>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Cc: Wendy A Chisholm <wendy@w3.org>, "'Andrew Kirkpatrick'" <andrew_kirkpatrick@wgbh.org>

A quick response to the request for review I received from Wendy....

1. In general, is this WCAG 2.0 Working Draft easy to understand?  Please identify sections or phrases that are difficult to understand.  Please suggest alternative wording for us to consider.

In general, the WCAG 2.0 seems to be a more technical document than the WCAG 1.0. This makes sense to me considering the range of technologies that needs to be covered (not just HTML anymore). Overall, I think the draft strikes the right tone. However, I still think this document needs support in the form of techniques documents and training materials that are very, very specific. The training module written by Geoff Freed and Chuck LeTourneau for WCAG10 was great but there needs to be several different documents explaining the new guidelines for different levels of skill in different fields. Without this work, the guidelines will be open to a variety of interpretations and implementations by designers, end users, authoring tool makers and user agent makers. The more clarity that can be provided, the better. 

2. The priority structure of this WCAG 2.0 Working Draft differs 
from WCAG 1.0. Is this structure easy to understand? Would it be effective?

I like the new structure, but then I don't see it as much different than the old structure. The main difference I notice is that the bar has been raised pretty significantly under the minimum level. Minimum conformance in WCAG20 is very comparable to Level AA under WCAG10. This is a challenging standard for novice designers working within large institutions. Again, significant resources for training will need to be made available if this standard is to be successfully implemented. 

Level 2 conformance seems to imply that 3rd party evaluation is required to meet success criteria. I am sure consultants offering accessibility testing will play on this reading. 3rd party evaluation has been something of a hot button issue of late. It may be worth looking at these success criteria and seeing if other folks take away this reading and if so, shaping the language a bit. 

3.  If your site already uses WCAG 1.0, do you think it would be 
difficult to migrate from WCAG 1.0 to WCAG 2.0? What would make it 
easier?  Please note that supporting documents, such as technology-specific 
techniques documents, are not yet available.

I do think it will be much harder to meet minimum level conformance under WCAG20. Here are a few of the highlights of moments where I expect designers on my team and novice to intermediate level designers sho use our tools will have the most trouble with. 

* 1.2 an audio description is provided of all visual information in scenes, actions and events (that can't be perceived from the sound track).
* 1.3 any information that is conveyed through presentation formatting is also provided in either text or structure.
* 2.1 content uses only event handlers that are designed to be operable through character input.
* 4.3 acronyms and abbreviations are defined the first time they appear.

I point to these success criteria in particular because these are places where folks will have to interact with code directly in order to be successful. Since most authoring tools today make it easy for designers to create web content without knowing code, this puts novice and intermediate designers in a position where they have to learn HTML or they can't make content that will validate to the standard. In my own research, I have learned that accessibility tends to lose in these situations. Anything we can do to improve tools and make goods resources available will go a long way to helping make these standards feasible. 

Just my two cents. 

Bob Regan

bob regan | macromedia | 608.258.2587
Received on Wednesday, 25 September 2002 17:38:48 UTC

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