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Conformance Testing Proposal

From: Chris Ridpath <chris.ridpath@utoronto.ca>
Date: Mon, 5 Apr 2004 11:25:52 -0400
Message-ID: <31b601c41b22$47da8dc0$b040968e@WILDDOG>
To: "WAI WCAG List" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

Page authors need to know what they must do in order to conform to the WAI
guidelines. We must spell out in clear terms what must be done to achieve
compliance.

The current situation is that nobody really knows if their site's content
complies or not. This is because the WCAG 1 was open to interpretation.
Interpreting the guidelines has been an impediment to page authors
performing the simple but necessary things that make content accessible.
Current research has been critical of the WCAG 1 because of the way that
people must interpret the guidelines.

The current state of accessibility conformance "I can't define it, but I
know it when I see it" must be changed.

My proposal is that we state, for each technology, the things that must be
done in order for a page to claim conformance. This is possible and
practical and is what page authors require.

For example we require that, in HTML, all IMG elements have an ALT
attribute. If any IMG element does not have an ALT attribute then the page
cannot claim conformance.

The list of requirements would be subject to periodic change by the WAI. For
example in 2004 we require a d-link for any IMG element that has a LONGDESC
attribute. In 2005 or 2006 as the LONGDESC is better supported the d-link
requirement would be dropped. As better tests for semantic content are
developed they could be added as requirements.

The initial list of requirements would likely not cover 100% of
accessibility problems but it would improve over time and would be much
better than the current situation. Simply because we can not define all
accessibility requirements now is not a good reason for being vague.

A clear list of requirements would ensure that page authors know exactly
what to put in their web pages. It would increase web accessibility.

Clear requirements would mean that people, or machines, could actually test
for compliance with the guidelines. Many authors want to do the right thing
but don't know how.

As a starting point, here's what I think the WCAG 2 requirements for HTML
are:
http://checker.atrc.utoronto.ca/servlet/ShowGuide?name=wcag-2-0-html-techs.xml&lang=eng

I'm sure that this list has errors and omissions but it proves that we can
do this.

We can, and must, clearly describe what the guidelines mean.

Cheers,
Chris
Received on Monday, 5 April 2004 11:26:37 GMT

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