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RE: working definition of baseline

From: Michael Cooper <michaelc@watchfire.com>
Date: Tue, 10 May 2005 12:54:16 -0400
Message-ID: <A0666B3C59F1634290FDC88674D87C3202124E7B@1WFEMAIL.ottawa.watchfire.com>
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

I just want to highlight something Jason said:

<Jason says>
> I would
> rather say that we want authors to choose a good, appropriate baseline
> that takes into account the user agents available to a given
> population at a particular time, and supports accessibility as far as
> possible. It is equally possible to choose a bad baseline - one that
> makes inappropriate assumptions. The guidance we offer helps authors
> to choose good, suitable, relevant baselines. However the concept of
> baseline itself implies nothing about accessibility or suitability -
> it's just a set of technologies which someone has, for good or ill,
> designed content to rely upon.
</Jason says>

This is very important to me. WCAG conformance must be defined with respect to a known and identified baseline. However, the selection of that baseline must not be part of WCAG conformance - otherwise we haven't fully externalized the concept of baseline. We need to provide extremely strong suggestions about baselines to choose, but we can't make any requirements. Authors have to choose their baselines appropriately, based on what they know of their target audience, any legislative or company policies that create certain restrictions in their jurisdictions, as well as the advice of the WCAG WG. It is possible to choose a baseline in bad faith - choose some really new and unsupported technologies, yet be WCAG conformant because the access features are provided that work in the few user agents that support the technology. That's a bad idea but out of our jurisdiction.

Michael
Received on Tuesday, 10 May 2005 16:54:28 UTC

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