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Re: Should validity be P1 or P2? (was RE: summary of resolutions from last 2 days)

From: Gez Lemon <gez.lemon@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 20 Jun 2005 19:34:56 +0100
Message-ID: <e2a28a9205062011343fd8a711@mail.gmail.com>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org

Hi John,

On 20/06/05, John M Slatin <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu> wrote:
<blockquote>
The example I sent just happens to be an instance of a case where valid
code doesn't guarantee accessibility.
</blockquote>

I think everyone involved in this discussion agrees that validity is
not a guarantee of accessibility. I'm concerned that this particular
debate has turned into a point-scoring exercise, rather than looking
at the true implications of endorsing invalid markup as being
acceptable at level 1.

The example you posted poses problems with some user-agents, but more
to the point, would the problems disappear if the markup presented
also contained some invalid elements and/or attributes? My concern
about invalid markup is not only about the situation we're in now, but
also the future. Whatever recommendations WCAG come up with will
presumably be with us for the next few years. Allowing invalid markup
at level 1 is an endorsement that web standards achieve nothing.

Whilst everyone agrees that validity doesn't guarantee accessibility,
does any one agree that validity is harmful for accessibility? If I
knew someone that got knocked down by a car walking down the pavement
(side walk), it wouldn't lead me to think it was safer to walk in the
road. Validity has to be essential for testability, otherwise the
outcome couldn't possibly be known. This point is proved by the way
that some assistive technologies work. At the moment, some assistive
technologies sit on top of browsers (like Internet Explorer) that do
manage to make sense of the content, so that the assistive technology
at least knows it has a workable document tree. This type of
arrangement puts companies like Microsoft in an incredibly powerful
position. This isn't a knock at Microsoft; I would feel strongly about
any company that ended up in such a powerful position that could be
avoided if developers concentrated on developing valid documents. If
the situation improves, assistive technologies wouldn't be dependent
on companies with deep pockets that were able to cope with anything
thrown at it, and achieve the true operability promised in the
original vision of the web. Surely WCAG need to be proactive in
encouraging this?

Personally, I don't see this as being the Internet police. This is no
different from requiring any other constraints that ultimately lead to
better accessibility. Validity is a solid foundation on which to build
accessibility, and I think it would be a mistake if WCAG brushed this
issue aside as an ideal.

Best regards,

Gez

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Received on Monday, 20 June 2005 18:35:00 UTC

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