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

From: Christophe Strobbe <christophe.strobbe@esat.kuleuven.be>
Date: Thu, 23 Jun 2005 16:53:30 +0200
Message-Id: <>
To: Joe Clark <joeclark@joeclark.org>, WAI-GL <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>


At 17:56 21/06/2005, Joe Clark wrote:
>If the Working Group can't come up with three real-world examples of 
>claimed problems, there isn't any justification to write a criterion to 
>address the problems, because they can't be demonstrated to exist.
>But I'm glad a staffmember of WAI pro tem actually suggested that 
>producing examples of problems isn't necessary, in part because I asked 
>for it. That'll go over real well.

WCAG 2.0 is meant to be technology-independent. It is possible to provide 
examples of problems in the current versions of (X)HTML, but not for future 
technologies (e.g. XHTML 2.0) or even new ones (how do you provide examples 
of problems in SVG or XForms when there is no AT support for these 
formats?). For these technologies, problems can only be identified by 
reviewing the relevant specifications.
Web content is not just the stuff that we load today's web browsers (it's 
amazing that this whole thread only mentions HTML/XHTML). W3C even 
has  recommendations for interactive voice response applications (VoiceXML 
and accompanying specs such as Speech Synthesis Markup Language and the 
Speech Recognition Grammar Specification). Even if no examples of problems 
can be found in (X)HTML, that does not mean that a (proposed) success 
criterion is necessarily useless. Admittedly, there is also no way to 
predict if a success criterion will ever address a real problem.

>>>I have already outlined a number of ways in which valid code can be 
>>>inaccessible, which I recap here in handy list form:
>>>- Non-semantic HTML (<b> or <font>
><b> and <font> aren't inaccessible per se. <b> and <strong> will typically 
>be dealt with interchangeably. <font size="-1"> has what accessibility 
>problem, exactly, to use one example?
>Besides, Matt's point is that invalid HTML (including nonsemantic HTML) 
>can be accessible, so let's not have 'er both ways, please.

Matt May wrote in reponse to your mail:
"You've completely missed the other half of the problem, which is that we 
can find many examples of valid pages that are plenty inaccessible."
The examples I provided, even though imperfect, showed that this is not a 
merely theoretical issue.

>OK, on to Christophe's submissions:
>>Example 1: the homepage of http://www.hyfinity.com/, which claims valid XHTML
>>The body consists only of <div>, <span> and <a> elements; there is not a 
>>single <hx> or <p> in sight.
>Can your screen reader read it? Can a deaf person?
>It's nonsemantic HTML, but is there an accessibility problem?
>Same with Examples 2 and 3.

The Hyfinity site map was tested by a blind user with Jaws and a 
refreshable braille display. As I said, he could not see where the site 
navigation (at the top of the page) ended and where the site map began. 
Since the text and the links can be accessed, this is only a minor problem.

>>Example 4: http://www.brainmass.com/content/about/. (Almost valid XHTML 
>>1.0 Transitional:
>"Almost" doesn't count in this case. Next.
>>Example 5: http://www.dfat.gov.au/dept/annual_reports/02_03/overviews/2.html.
>>Uses <b> instead of something semantic (e.g. <strong>),although the real 
>>problem with this page are missing longdescs for the charts and figures.
>A stronger case, but clearly still debatable since the Working Group 
>continues to believe that numbers can be turned into graphs and then into 
>words with no problem at all. By the way, nobody has a really good 
>solution for org charts. (People have certainly tried to make them work 
>with <ul> and <ol>.)

The page validates but there is no text that conveys the information in the 
org charts, so this is a valid example of an inaccessible web page. It is 
not an example of "numbers (...) turned into graphs and then into words".

>(...) And anyway, *you* put in the day's worth of browsing; you're the one 
>claiming it's a problem, boss.

I wasn't taking a position in the debate: I was trying to provide concrete 
examples that might turn a mostly religious debate into one based on facts.

It also strikes me that most of this debate has become a "good guys" versus 
"bad guys" discussion. I find this adversarial attitude inappropriate, and 
even ridiculous.


Christophe Strobbe

Christophe Strobbe
K.U.Leuven - Departement of Electrical Engineering - Research Group on 
Document Architectures
Kasteelpark Arenberg 10 - 3001 Leuven-Heverlee - BELGIUM
tel: +32 16 32 85 51
Received on Thursday, 23 June 2005 14:54:19 UTC

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