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PLAIN: Proposed rewording for Guideline 3.3 with success criteria, best practices, benefits, and examples

From: John M Slatin <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>
Date: Fri, 7 Nov 2003 16:13:22 -0600
Message-ID: <C46A1118E0262B47BD5C202DA2490D1A1E3008@MAIL02.austin.utexas.edu>
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Plain language version of Principle 3, Guideline 3.3 with success
criteria, benefits, and examples

 

This document contains a series of proposals for a "plain language_
rewording of WCAG 2.0 Guideline 3 and Checkpoint 3.3 with Success
Criteria, Examples, and Benefits

 

This is submitted in partial fulfillment of an action item taken by John
Slatin, Katie Haritos-Shay, and Doyle Burnett during a call in late
September or early October, to generate a plain-language version of WCAG
2.  

 

This message is partial in two ways: (1) It addresses only Guideline
(now Principle) 3, Checkpoint (now Guideline) 3.3, and the relevant
success criteria, examples, and benefits.  Other guidelines, etc., will
follow.  (2) It is not really "plain language," in the sense that this
text has not yet been compared to the 1500-word "special lexicon" used
by Voice of America (or other similar lexicons).  Thus it's actually
best understood as an attempt to simplify and clarify.  We're still
working on the formal plain language issues, but wanted to put this out
to start generating discussion.

 

Items labeled "Current wording" are taken from the September document
Reorg 4, available at http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/2003/09/reorg4.html
<http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/2003/09/reorg4.html> .  This document was
current at the time Katie and Doyle and I took on the action item to
attempt a plain language version.  Of course the proposed rewordings
will need to be correlated with later updates.


Current wording for Checkpoint 3.3


3.3 [E8] Content is no more complex than is necessary and/or is
supplemented with simpler forms of the content.


Proposed wording for Guideline 3.3


3.3 [E8] Use the clearest wording that is consistent with the purpose of
the content. Provide summaries or paraphrases of complex material, and
provide visual or auditory illustrations as appropriate.


Current wording for Checkpoint 3.3, SC 1


1. the content has been reviewed, taking into account the following
strategies for evaluating the complexity of the content, applying them
as appropriate.

A. familiarity of terms and language structure

B. reasonableness of length and complexity of sentences

C. coherence of paragraphs (and sensibility in length)

D. clarity of headings and linked text when read out of context

E. accuracy and uniqueness of page titles

F. care in the use of all-capital letters where normal sentence case
might increase comprehension

G. inclusion of non-text content to supplement text for key pages or
sections of the site where they felt it was appropriate.


Proposed wording for Guideline 3.3, SC 1


1. the content has been reviewed, taking into account the following
strategies for reducing  complexity or minimizing its impact, and
applying them as appropriate.

 

A. The resource uses vocabulary which is widely used by members of the
intended audience.

B. The length and complexity of sentences are consistent with
recommended best practices for the intended audience, such as those
found in current textbooks about writing in the audience's field or
discipline.

C. Paragraphs develop a single topic or subtopic 

D. Section headings and linked text are understandable when read by
themselves (for example, in a screen reader's list of links or a table
of contents)

E. Page titles are informative and unique

F. The document uses page design, graphics, color, fonts, animations,
video, or audio to clarify complex text as necessary


Current wording for Best Practice Measures for Checkpoint 3.3


1. the content has been reviewed, taking into account the strategies for
evaluating the complexity of the content, applying them as appropriate.

 

Additional Notes for Checkpoint 3.3 (Informative)

 

Strategies for evaluating the complexity of the content include:

1. use of sentence structures that increase understanding

* such as active voice in languages where this form helps convey
information

2. length of noun phrases

* strings of no more than three or four nouns are easiest to understand

3. clarity of reference with pronouns and anaphoric expressions (these
refer back to something already said in the text)

* example of potential ambiguity: "Scientists study monkeys. They eat
bananas."

4. correct use of conjunction forms and adverbs to make explicit the
relationship between phrases or parts of the text

* such as "and," "but," "furthermore," "not only"

5. complexity of verb tenses

* do the tenses used in a document seem overly complicated?

6. intelligibility of verb phrases

7. familiarity of idioms or slang

8. logic in the order and flow of information

9. consequences of ambiguity or abstraction

10. improved readability of vertical lists might offer in place of long
paragraphs of information

11. use of summaries to aid understanding

12. thoroughness in the explanation of instructions or required actions

13. consistency in the use of names and labels

14. clarity where the document:

* addresses users

* explains choices and options

* labels options to get more information

* instructs users how to modify selections in critical functions (such
as how to delete an item from a shopping cart)

15. application of:

* proper markup to highlight key information

* goal-action structure for menu prompts

* default settings (and the ease in re-establishing them)

* two-step "select and confirm" processes to reduce accidental
selections for critical functions

* calculation assistance to reduce the need to calculate

16. testing with potential users for ease of accessibility

17. use of a controlled language

18. providing support for conversion into symbolic languages

19. adding non-text content to the site for key pages or sections
specifically to make the site more understandable by users who cannot
understand the text only version of the site.


Proposed wording for Best Practice Measures for Guideline 3.3


Strategies for reducing complexity include, but are not limited to:


In general


 

1.    Organize material so it is easy to read and use.

2.    Use a style manual, dictionary, and other reference materials.

3.    Test documents to learn if potential users understand the
material, and include people with cognitive, learning, or reading
disabilities in the test group.


Vocabulary


4. Use vocabulary that will be familiar to intended readers. 

*        If the resource is intended for people who work in a particular
technical field, consider using a Controlled Language. For example, a
resource designed for aircraft engineers could use a controlled language
like the one used by Boeing Aircraft Company.

*        If a technical resource is intended for translation into other
languages, consider using a Controlled Language.

*        If the resource is intended for a general audience or for
translation into other languages, avoid professional jargon, slang, and
other terms with a specialized meaning that may not be clear to people
outside a specific group. Review the document for plain language, using
a checklist like the ones produced by US and Canadian government
agencies.

*         

[js note: We should include examples from other countries and other
languages if possible]

5. If the resource is intended for a general audience and it is
necessary to use words that have specialized meanings, define those
words.

6. When there is a choice between abstract and concrete terms, use the
more concrete term unless there is a specific reason for using the
abstract term. 

7. Avoid ambiguity unless it is an essential aspect of the
subject-matter.


Sentences


8. Make sentence-length consistent with common practice in the language
of the document or the primary audience for whom the document is
intended. Consult textbooks about writing in that field or discipline.


Syntax


9. Use the simplest sentence forms consistent with the purpose of the
content

*        For example, the simplest sentence-form for English consists of
Subject-Verb-Object, as in John hit the ball or The Web site conforms to
WCAG 2.0. 

10.  Consider using bulleted or numbered lists in place of paragraphs
that contain long series of words or phrases separated by commas


Nouns, noun-phrases, and pronouns


11. Use single nouns or short noun-phrases.

12. Make sure that pronoun references and references to earlier points
in the document are clear

* example of potential ambiguity: 

The sentence below contains several pronouns whose references are not
clear:

 

Web developers can't understand those guidelines because they don't
speak their language.

 

1.    It is not clear which guidelines are referred to as "those
guidelines" (the guidelines you are reading now would be these
guidelines)

2.    It isn't clear whether the pronoun "they" refers to the Web
developers or to the guidelines (the rules of English syntax indicate
that the reference is to the guidelines, but common usage doesn't always
obey those rules)

3.    It isn't clear whether the pronoun "their" refers to the language
used by the Web developers or the language in which the guidelines are
written.

The sentence can be rewritten to resolve the ambiguities:

Web developers can't understand these guidelines because the guidelines
are not written in the developers' language.


Verbs


Voice


13. For documents written in English and some other Western languages,
use the active voice unless there is a specific reason for using passive
constructions.  Sentences in the active voice are often shorter and
easier to understand than those in the passive voice.

 

Examples:

*        Active: Many people believe that readers understand sentences
in the active voice more easily than sentences in the passive voice.

*        Passive: It is believed by many that sentences in the active
voice are more easily understood by readers than sentences in the
passive voice.


Tenses


14. Use verb tenses consistently.

For example, o not switch randomly between past and present tense.  In
the sentences, John left the room.  He takes the elevator down to the
lobby, the shift from past tense (in the first sentence left the room)
to present tense in the second sentence (takes the elevator) might
create ambiguity about John's use of the elevator: did he use it in the
past or is he using it now?


Logic and relationships


15. Indicate the logical relationships between phrases, sentences,
paragraphs, or sections of the text.

* In some cases, simple words such as and, however, furthermore, and
therefore may be enough to make the logical relationship clear between
one sentence and the next. Other cases may require longer phrases or
even additional sentences.


Instructions and operable content


[js note:I suggest moving the items under this heading to Guideline 2.5
(help users avoid mistakes and make it easy to correct them]

16. Thoroughly explain instructions or required actions

17. Use names and labels consistently.

18. clarity where the document: [js note: I don't quite understand this]

* addresses users

* explains choices and options

* labels options to get more information

* instructs users how to modify selections in critical functions (such
as how to delete an item from a shopping cart)

19. application of: [js note: Not sure what the items below should be
applied to]

* Use a goal-action structure for menu prompts.

* default settings (and the ease in re-establishing them) [js note: I'm
not sure what's intended here so can't rewrite]

* Use two-step, "select and confirm" processes to reduce accidental
selections for critical functions 

* Provide calculation assistance to reduce the need to calculate (for
example, use a script to calculate the total price for an online
purchase)


Alternative representations: summaries, paraphrases, examples,
illustrations, and symbolic languages


[js note: I propose deleting the first two items under this head, which
are addressed earlier in this guideline.]

20. Provide summaries to aid understanding [delete- already covered]

21. add non-text content to the site for key pages or sections
specifically to make the site more understandable by users who cannot
understand the text only version of the site. [delete- covered] [js
note: WCAG 1.0 and Section 508 both allow text-only variants only in
cases when the "original" can't be made accessible any other way, and
then require that the text-only variant be updated whenver the
"original" changes.  That seems to have dropped out of WCAG 2.0, but I
think we need to reinstate it.]

 

22. Make it possible to convert text into symbolic languages such as
those used by Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
devices[js note: say how-through metadata? And we need an example for
this one, under examples. Clearly a Level 3]


Current wording for Benefits of Checkpoint 3.3


* All users, especially those with cognitive, learning, and/or reading
disabilities benefit from the use of clear and simple writing. This
should not discourage you from expressing complex or technical ideas.

* Using clear and simple language also benefits people whose first
language differs from your own, including those people who communicate
primarily in sign language.

* Sounds, graphics, videos and animations can help make concepts
presented in a Web site easier to understand, especially for people with
cognitive, reading, or learning disabilities or those who are unfamiliar
with the language of the text of the site.

* Summarizing information that is difficult to understand helps people
who do not read well.

* Providing a summary of the visual cues that show relationships between
complex information helps people who do not use visual cues or who have
difficulty using visual cues. For example, people who are completely
blind do not use any visual cues, while people with dyslexia or with low
vision might have difficulty interpreting visual cues.


Proposed wording for Who benefits from Checkpoint 3.3 (Informative)


*        People with cognitive, learning, or reading disabilities
benefit from text that expresses complex ideas or information in a clear
and simple way.  

*        People whose first language is not the same as the language
used in the document, including people who use Sign languages,  benefit
from text that expresses complex ideas and information in a clear and
simple way. 

*        People with cognitive, learning, or reading disabilities
benefit from clear and simple summaries of complex ideas and
information. 

*        People with cognitive, reading, or learning disabilities may
require audio, graphics, videos, or animations to understand complex
ideas and information 

*        People who are blind, people who have low vision, people with
dyslexia and others who have difficulty understanding visual
illustrations of complex relationships benefit from written summaries of
visual information. [js note: I suggest that we delete this one: since
it basically calls for text equivalents for complex visual information,
it's covered under 1.1.]

*        People with certain cognitive or developmental disabilities
benefit from the use of symbolic languages.

 

[js note: I propose deleting the following note or moving it to
Techniques.]

Designers should be cautious in deciding when to use illustrations.
Reading a picture is a learned activity that is easier for some than
others. Some users skip the pictures; others use only the pictures.
Designers must also recognize that visual conventions are not universal
and that individuals develop their own mental schema and expectations in
interpreting visual information. [js note: I suggest deleting this note
as well, or moving it to techniques.]


Current wording for Examples of Checkpoint 3.3


* Example 1: a description of a process.

 

A page describes how to learn to play soccer. Each step in learning the
fundamentals of the game is illustrated with a photograph of a player
doing what is described in the text.

 

* Example 2: a concrete concept.

 

The primary concept on a page is concrete. It is discussing Mt.
Pinatubo. It includes both a description of the 1991 eruption as well as
photos of the eruption and the aftermath. It links to another site that
contains video and another site that contains a 3D simulation of what
happened underneath the crust and within the volcano during the
eruption.

 

* Example 3: child's report of school trip.

 

A child went with her school on a trip to a bicycle manufacturing plant.
She wrote a report for her family and friends to post to the Web. In the
report, she includes the company logo as well as a picture of a bicycle
on the assembly line. She links to the company Web site for more
information. She includes photos she took of the plant.

 

* Example 4: stock trading data.

 

A news site is comparing the performance of the economy from 3rd quarter
of this year with 3rd quarter from the last 3 years. They compare prices
of the most popular stocks. They present the data in a bar graph with a
link to the raw data they used to create the bar graph.

 

* Example 5: history of music.

 

A grandfather's hobby is listening to and playing music. He creates a
Web site that includes examples of many different types of music and
musical instruments. When describing specific types of music, he links
to a short sound clip.


Proposed wording for Examples of Guideline 3.3  (Informative)

* Example 1: a description of a process.

 

A page describes how to learn to make a corner kick in soccer. Each step
in learning the fundamentals of the corner kick is illustrated with a
photograph of a player doing what is described in the text.

 

*        Example 2: A committee report with an executive summary

 

A government task force publishes its final report on the Web. The
report is very long and includes many tables, charts, and illustrations
as well as detailed recommendations. The home page for the task force
contains a 100-word summary of the report written in plain language.
Following the summary is a link to a Table of Contents where readers can
choose individual sections of the report.  There is also a link to the
full report.

 

* Example 3: a description of a complex natural event

 

A Web page discusses Mt. Pinatubo in the Phillipines. The page includes
a description of the 1991 eruption as well as photos of the eruption and
its aftermath. The page also includes a brief explanation of why
volcanoes erupt.  To clarify this explanation, , the page links to site
that contains video and another site that contains a 3D simulation of
what happened underneath the crust and within the volcano during the
eruption.

 

[js note: I propose deleting the examples about the kid's school report
and the stock market graph.  The one about the school report isn't
substantively different in kind from Example 2-it just shows that doing
this kind of work can be child's play<grin>. The stock market data
example is almost identical to the bar graph example we use in 1.1 but
not nearly as fully developed.]

 

* Example 4: history of music.

 

A musicologist creates a Web site that includes examples of many
different types of music and musical instruments.  Descriptions of the
instruments are accompanied by photographs, drawings, or details from
paintings in which the instruments appear. When describing specific
types of music, the musicologist links to short audio clips that show
the music's characteristic sound.

 

 

*        Example 5: An exmplanation of a molecular process

 

A Web page for a university Chemistry course explains a molecular
process. The explanation uses symbols familiar to chemists. The
explanation is accompanied by an animation that shows a model of how the
process works. The page also includes a written narrative that describes
the process shown in the animation.  There is also a link to a
compressed audio file containing a recording of the narrative read by a
speech synthesizer.

 

 

 


"Good design is accessible design." 
Please note our new name and URL!
John Slatin, Ph.D.
Director, Accessibility Institute
University of Texas at Austin
FAC 248C
1 University Station G9600
Austin, TX 78712
ph 512-495-4288, f 512-495-4524
email jslatin@mail.utexas.edu
web http://www.utexas.edu/research/accessibility/
<http://www.utexas.edu/research/accessibility/> 


 

 
Received on Friday, 7 November 2003 17:13:24 GMT

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