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Erratum proposal (was: Re: Avoid deprecated features query)

From: Wendy A Chisholm <wendy@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 04 Jun 2003 21:42:31 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>, w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Cc: Pam Galloway <pam.galloway@connectinternetsolutions.com>

I found the old issues lists, went through some old minutes, and found 
contradictory interpretations of "Avoid deprecated features."

I propose the following erratum to WCAG 1.0:
10. Avoid deprecated features
Added: DD MM YYYY.
Type: Clarification
Refers to: Checkpoint 11.2 of 5 May 1999 version
Description (and correction). The checkpoint says, "Avoid deprecated 
features of W3C technologies" but it is not clear if "avoid" means "do not 
use at all" or "use only when absolutely necessary."  Since this is a 
Priority 2 checkpoint, the stricter interpretation applies and it should be 
read as, "Do not use deprecated features of W3C technologies."  Deprecated 
features may be used in a site that claims conformance at Level A.  Level 
AA requires more work, including replacing deprecated features with updated 

The other checkpoints that use the word "avoid" are also Prioirty 2 except: 
"7.1 Until user agents allow users to control flickering, avoid causing the 
screen to flicker. [Priority 1]"  There are a variety of issues with this 
checkpoint ("until user agents...," how to test for flicker, what do we 
mean by "avoid.").  This is a separate issue and should not impact the 
clarification of 11.2.

trail of minutes and issues lists:

At the 13 April 1999 meeting there was discussion about what we meant by 
"avoid" but there was no resolution.

Greg Lowney commented about an earlier draft and Ian responded that BLINK 
and MARQUEE "should not be used."

In an old issues list for WCAG 1.0, there are still some open issues.  One 
is related to this issue and it says, "We need to share our interpretation 
that some use of deprecated is o.k. The CG feels we should either address 
this in errata or the next version."  However, I am unable to find support 
that this is the consensus.

13 June 1999, Ian made the following proposal:
Change wording of 11.2 to read "Avoid deprecated features of
       W3C technologies. Note: Authors should stop using deprecated
       features when they are supported by by other technologies such
       as style sheets."

I remember quite a lot of discussion about "avoid tables for layout" and 
found some evidence of us changing from that to the current wording, "5.3 
Do not use tables for layout unless the table makes sense when linearized. 
Otherwise, if the table does not make sense, provide an alternative 
equivalent (which may be a linearized version). [Priority 2]"

This wording comes from the 17 March 1999 meeting:

History of issues lists:
1. WAI Page Authoring Guidelines Issues List for the Working Drafts (Pre-Rec)
(last modified Nov 2000)

2. Summary of Last Call Issues

3. WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Issues List - Proposed 
At PR, "Avoid tables for layout" was replaced with a clarified checkpoint:
5.3 Do not use tables for layout unless the table makes sense when 
linearized. Otherwise, if the table does not make sense, provide an 
alternative equivalent (which may be a linearized version). [Priority 2]

At 05:07 PM 6/4/2003, Al Gilman wrote:

>At 03:04 PM 2003-06-04, Wendy A Chisholm wrote:
>>Hello Pam,
>>This is an interesting question.
>>Personally, I interpret 11.2 to mean "don't use deprecated features" and 
>>if you use deprecated features then you don't conform.
>My recollection would be that we said 'avoid' because we did not feel it was
>reasonable to expect content completely to satisfy "do not use."  That
>"do not use" would be interpreted as MUST NOT use in the RFC 2119 sense, 
>"avoid" indicated a SHOULD NOT in the same terms.
>If we go back and trace the discussion on layout tables, I believe this
>interpretation should be borne out.  Not so clear we thought it through
>in as much depth on deprecated features.
>I haven't found conclusive proof, but at least at the April 13 meeting the
>proposal to replace 'avoid' with the simpler "do not use" was considered.
>The sense that 'avoid' indicates more room for discretion was raised, and
>the proposed change failed to achieve a consensus either way.
>  Minutes from 13 April Working Group Teleconference
>  http://www.w3.org/2002/02/mid/3714876A.B1FE613@w3.org
>Is there some way to trace from here through the change log for the issues 
>to see if this issue were ever resolved at some point?
>My answer to Pam would be threefold:
>class="clarification personal">
>a) yes, the language is meant to leave some room for discretion, for
>deprecated features to be used where the option is [too difficult].
>b) this is not a free ride; this means that you have to make a good faith
>attempt to avoid the use of these features before claiming compliance.
>Whether you have indeed made a good faith effort is something that would
>require examination of the facts of the pages, and cannot be determined
>simply by a clarification of the checkpoint.
>c) the Working Group will attempt to clarify or interpret the guidelines
>but cannot take on case-by-case reviews including the facts of a particular
>>It sounds like you have updated some pages but not all.  What if you 
>>clarify the scope of your conformance claim?  For example, "Pages created 
>>or updated after 1 June 2003 conform at Level AA to WCAG 1.0.  Pages 
>>created before 31 May 2003 conform at Level A to WCAG 1.0 because they 
>>use deprecated features of HTML 4.01."
>>I'm interested in reactions from others on the list.
>>At 06:42 AM 6/4/2003, Pam Galloway wrote:
>>>Can you clarify what avoid means in this instance, please.
>>>If a web page has includes some deprecated features and is submitted as 
>>>4.01 Transistional, which allows for deprecated features, will it be 
>>>accessible to Priority Level 2 - Guideline 11.2 - Avoid deprecated 
>>>features of W3C technologies?
>>>I took it that avoid means try not to use, not don't use. I need an 
>>>answer as we are looking at a site with 100's of pages that needs to be 
>>>compliant to level 2. Some deprecated features have been dropped and 
>>>replaced using CSS. Others would take a while to do as the number of 
>>>pages is extensive.
>>> >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>Pam Galloway
>>wendy a chisholm
>>world wide web consortium
>>web accessibility initiative
>wendy a chisholm
>world wide web consortium
>web accessibility initiative
Received on Wednesday, 4 June 2003 21:42:45 UTC

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