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4.1 revised

From: Avi Arditti <aardit@voa.gov>
Date: Wed, 23 Oct 2002 12:43:23 -0400
Message-ID: <3DB6D1AB.700DA895@voa.gov>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
CC: Lisa Seeman <seeman@netvision.net.il>, Lee Roberts <leeroberts@roserockdesign.com>


Here are the success criteria that Lisa and I would like to put forward
for discussion. Thanks also to Lee for his input! You'll recognize a lot
of the items from the compiled list of ideas.  Other ideas come from
diverse sources, from the AECMA Simplified English for aerospace
maintenance documentation to the Vocational and Rehabilitation Research
Institute (vrri.org) in Calgary. I discovered that a very fine person
there named Janet Pringle works with cognititively disabled
"translators" to adapt documents into plain language (yes, she calls it

The idea for writing the success criteria as checklists came out of
suggestions by John, Wendy, Jason and others in the September 19
meeting. This approach offers a pragmatic (though no doubt imperfect)
measure of testability without restricting creativity. We are not saying
that anyone has to implement any of the items. All we are saying is that
they have to assess their content according to these criteria and
discuss reasons for any exceptions. The hope, obviously, is that they
will see the wisdom in ideas that might never even have come to mind. So
perhaps it's more carrot than stick.  

As you read below, note that Level 1 and Level 2 are written in
different formats. Which format do you prefer? The items at Level 1 are
phrased as statements. The items at Level 2 are phrased as questions. 

The techniques and informative sections can add:
-  examples of valid reasons to exclude a criteria (Shakespeare quote
-  techniques for deciding on a suitable sentence length etc ... 
-  ways to test for each criteria.


Checkpoint 4.1 Write clearly. (or whatever ... )

These success criteria reflect many of the plain-language principles
used to promote clarity in writing. The first and second levels are
written as checklists of items to guide editorial considerations.
Conformance requires that you consider each item and answer "yes," "no"
or "not applicable." You must also consider the reasons for any

You will have met Checkpoint 4.1 at the Minimum Level if you based your
answers on deliberation of each item and the reasons for any exceptions.

Generally speaking:
1. Your site lists in metadata the cognitive skills or reading age that
a user would need to understand the important content.
2. Page titles are accurate and unique. 
3. The  words and language structure are probably familiar to disabled
people within your intended audience. <An informative section could list
the various sorts of disabilities that might be found in example
audiences. For instance, the audience of a professional journal might
include people with learning disabilities or semantic-pragmatic disorder
or first-stage Alzheimer's.> 
4. Terms that should be familiar to the intended audience audience are
favored over terms that are less likely to be understood.
5. Sentences are  limited to a single idea. <Informative sections could
list values specific to languages and disabilities>
6. Paragraphs are limited to a single idea.
7. Sentences are limited to lengths that disabled users within your
intended audience would probably consider reasonable.
8. Definitions/explanations are embedded or linked when the content
introduces new concepts or terminology.
9. Disabled users within your audience are likely to understand any
abbreviations or acronyms.
10. Users are able to find additional information to aid their
11. There is support to provide information in simpler forms.
12. Summaries are provided when these would aid understanding.
13. Headings and linked text are unique and make sense when read out of

You will have met Checkpoint 4.1 at Level 2 if you based your answers on
deliberation of each item and the reasons for any exceptions.

Generally speaking: 
1. Have those responsible for the content made an effort to learn about
ways to communicate with people with cognitive and other disabilities?
2. Are names and labels used consistently within a document?
3. Are noun phrases of more than three nouns avoided?
4. Are sentence structures that increase understanding (such as active
voice in English and other languages) favored over those that reduce
understanding? <Examples in techniques>
5. Are verb tenses kept simple?
6. Is the order of information logical?
7. Are more-common words favored over less-common words? 
8. Are choices and options clearly explained to users?
9. Are instructions or required actions explained step-by-step?
10. Is it clear to users when they are being addressed?
11. Are language shortcuts avoided in cases where they might reduce
12. Are options to get more information clearly labeled?
13. Are disabled users within your intended audiences likely to
understand any slang or idiomatic language?
14. Are disabled users within your intended audience likely to
understand any jargon? 
15. Is the writing style concrete enough or abstract enough for disabled
users within the intended audience?
16. Is the content unambiguous?
17. Is key information highlighted with proper markup?
18. Is goal-action structure used for menu prompts?
19. Are defaults provided, and is it easy to re-establish them?
20. Do sentences that explain actions and conditions list the conditions
21. Would long paragraphs be easier to understand if they were rewritten
as vertical lists of items (especially in the case of instructions)?
22. Is a two-step "select and confirm" process used to reduce accidental
selections for critical functions?
23. Are there clear instructions about how to modify selections in
critical functions (such as how to delete an item from a shopping cart)?
24. Is calculation assistance provided to reduce the need to calculate?
25. Is the removal of information that is unhelpful to disabled users

You will have met Checkpoint 4.1 at Level 3 if at least one
of the following is true:

1. New material is tested with potential users for ease of
2. A controlled language is used.
3. Support for conversion into symbolic languages has been given.
Received on Wednesday, 23 October 2002 12:44:10 GMT

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