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Thoughts on conformance profiles

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>
Date: Sat, 28 Aug 2004 11:40:16 +1000
Message-ID: <16687.57984.505771.694109@jdc.local>
To: Web Content Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

Here are the observations wich occurred to me after the

1. I do not think it is appropriate to have different conformance
   profiles for government sites, commercial sites, educational sites
   or other such categories. My concern here is that in drawing such
   distinctions the working group would be setting policy rather than
   formulating a technical specification. Moreover, any such
   policy-oriented conformance profiles run the risk of being
   inconsistent with the anti-discrimination laws in different

Policy setting should be left to the policy makers, with appropriate
technical guidance. It should not be set by the W3C in a technical

2. Gregg Vanderheiden once made the insightful observation that
   content should be categorized by the features which it possesses.
   For example, does it include non-text material? multi-media? Does
   it require user input? Is it dynamically modified?

These and other characteristics make it possible to propose categories
(i.e., profiles) whereby various guidelines in WCAG are included or
excluded depending on the features of the content. This resolves the
ambiguity surrounding the idea that some guidelines are simply
inapplicable to certain types of content, by specifying explicit
profiles which a developer can use to determine which guidelines are
relevant, and which are not. By having explicit profiles which are
identified in the conformance claim, there would be no room for a
developer to decide on arbitrary grounds that certain guidelines were
simply inapplicable and irrelevant, then to claim conformance on that
basis. It is this prospect of abuse which, some have qargued in
previous discussions, militates against allowing developers simply to
determine that certain guidelines are met due to inapplicability.

3. Perhaps there could be different profiles based on the types of
   technology which the developer decides to rely on, and to assume
   support for, in constructing the content. This would effectively be
   the same as declaring one's assumptions regarding which
   technologies are supported, but WCAG would provide specific
   profiles by which to accomplish it. I haven't thought through the
   details of how it might work, however.

Whether there should be conformance profiles in WCAG 2.0 at all is a
separate question which I am not trying to answer here. I think the
best approach is to settle on a proposal, then to decide whether its
benefits are sufficiently worthwhile to justify its inclusion in the
document, or whether the same objectives can be achieved in other
Received on Saturday, 28 August 2004 01:40:56 UTC

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