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RE: Applicability of guidelines

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 9 Jul 2004 11:59:00 -0400 (EDT)
To: John M Slatin <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>
Cc: jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au, Web Content Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.55.0407091144430.32660@homer.w3.org>

In WCAG we were careful to constrain 11.4 to being a complete, accessible,
equivalent, and not a text-only version (This is, I think, an impportant
difference between WCAG 1 and the relevant part of 508 rules).

So it is not possible to satisfy, for example, WCAG 14.2 for most text-only
versions. Further, any text-only version that isn't a complete equivalent
doesn't meet WCAG 1 checkpoint 11.4 (nor, I suspect, 508 requirements).

It is of course possible to argue until the end of teh world over whether
some information is "purposely present" or is just incidental decoration.
But actual work and complaints are likely to be based on real world
interpretation.  As an example, look at the text-only version of the library
map for Colorado State University's website and see if you can find the
toilets, which are clearly identified in the graphics version and which are,
by any interpretation I can imagine, part of the information presented by the
map. (On the other hand I don't care what the colours are, at least in the
scope of this example).


(I realise this is a hard problem. One approach to it is using SVG with the
AXSVG metadata schema, and using a completed version of AXSVG or similar to
generate a textual version that is useful. Admittedly more work. But in
Australia this would be a legal requirement since government organisations
such as Universities have a much higher threshold than "unreasonable burden"
to be exempted from meeting accessibility requirements, whereas in the US
the legal sitaution may well be different).



On Fri, 9 Jul 2004, John M Slatin wrote:

>Jason writes:
>I want to raise an issue that emerged from today's meeting. Many of our
>guidelines apply only to content that meets specific conditions. For
>example, guideline 1.1 is relevant only to content that includes
>non-text components. Guideline 2.1 applies only to content that
>specifies a user interface. There are numerous other examples throughout
>the document.
>At present, these conditions are not asserted explicitly in the
>document. My questions:
>1. Should we state directly that content which doesn't have the
>   characteristics assumed by a particular guideline is deemed to have
>   passed, albeit trivially? This would mean for example that if one
>   is claiming conformance for content that has no non-text
>   components, guideline 1.1 level 3 is satisfied, by default as it
>   were?
>Both WCAG 1.0 and Section 508 are careful to specify that text-only is a
>last resort in cases where single pages (not whole sites or sections)
>cannot be made accessible in any other way. And both are careful to
>require that such text-only variants be updated whenever the
>inaccessible "original" content is updated. If we go the route Jason is
>proposing, we'll need to be careful not to open up a back door to
>text-only variants of entire sites posted simply in order to claim
>conformance without doing any actual work.

Charles McCathieNevile  http://www.w3.org/People/Charles  tel: +61 409 134 136
SWAD-E http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/Europe         fax(france): +33 4 92 38 78 22
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Received on Friday, 9 July 2004 11:59:00 UTC

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