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Re: checkpoint 2.1 Ensure that all of the functionality of the content is operable through character input to the content or user agent.

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2003 15:00:21 +1100
Message-ID: <15908.56533.831090.280313@jdc.local>
To: Web Content Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

Wendy has offered an excellent list of alternative proposals in
response to the comments received. I think several of the options are
highly problematic, though, especially the attempts to simplify the
requirement that actually reduce its precision. Attempts to clarify
the requirement that also have the effect of simplifying it, by
contrast, are to be welcomed, as the working group has agreed.

Now to the problems. We can't simply assert that the content must be
device independently (or operable device independently) because such a
requirement is circular - it simply shifts the problem to one of
defining what "input device independence" means. This is why the
working group has decided to reject such wording in the past.

"Ensure that the content can be operated with any type of input
device" is another way of expressing it, but again this is open to
serious problems of interpretation. Specifically, it could be read as
requiring that support has to be built into the content to enable it
to be operated entirely with a pointing device (as opposed to using an
"on-screen" keyboard or other assistive technology). That kind of
interpretation is not what we intend, as was argued in the working
group's discussion of this checkpoint.

In the end we agreed on "character input" as the best way of
formulating the requirement, which also has the advantage of being
sufficiently precise that the developer knows what is needed even
before turning to the techniques document.

I don't think we have anything better than the current wording on
offer at present, unless we want to lose precision or decide to make a
general statement (about operability with all types of input device)
and then start qualifying it in complex ways to achieve the result
that we want. I also thought, upon reading some of the comments, taht
the phrase "to the content or user agent" could be omitted from the
checkpoint text, and the required clarification achieved in the
success criteria. I can work on a proposal if we decide to retain
essentially the present wording.

I propose that anyone who wants to write an alternative to the current
wording should take an action item to do so, and should make sure that
their proposal addresses all of the problems that the working group
has identified with earlier formulations which were considered and
rejected. My only reason for not accepting this action item at present
is that I haven't thought of anything which might work. If I do have
an idea that seems sound, however, I will definitely post it. The
present wording is the result of much detailed discussion, and so far
I haven't read any alternative that accurately expresses what we want
without being subject to the various criticisms that were made of
earlier proposals.
Received on Tuesday, 14 January 2003 23:05:31 GMT

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