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Proposed omission of explicit baseline in WCAG 2

From: Neil Whiteley <neil.whiteley@tag2.net>
Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2005 18:15:11 -0000
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

Hello WCAG WG,

If you'll allow, I would like to make some comments on the proposed omission
of an explicit baseline in WCAG 2.

I fully appreciate that the question of whether WCAG should define a
baseline is a difficult one; however I believe that it is a struggle worth

If the WAI were to opt to provide guidance and information only in assisting
others to define sensible baselines rather than to define an explicit
baseline, the door is open for other organisations (governments, customers,
companies, managers, and authors) to define a wide array of baselines that
may or may not fit the recommendations and guidance offered by WCAG. The
potential effect over time is that the influence and objectives of WAI are
irreparably damaged or diluted.

Loretta Guarino wrote (in the context of providing a normative baseline): 

> I think this means it is impossible for a government, for instance, to
define a different baseline and still harmonize with WCAG2.

I would argue to the contrary. In fact I would go as far as to say that
governments and other organisations will be looking to WCAG for a normative
baseline upon which to build. If organisations wish to develop their own
extended baselines then there is nothing to stop them in that pursuit
however if all were to build upon a common foundation, this would promote
greater harmony in the long haul.

Using the scripting example for a moment. 

Gregg Vanderheiden wrote:

> Techniques documents may provide multiple techniques and those techniques
may differ based on user agent assumptions. For example, we could have 2
techniques: 1. how to make scripts accessible for user agents and assist.
tech that support scripts 2.  how to write content in such a way that if
scripts are turned off the content degrades gracefully (i.e., still usable
w/out scripting).  however, these two techniques are not mutually exclusive
and one or the other is used depending on what technology choices are made.

If you flip these two techniques over and re-word a little i.e 

1. How to write content in such a way that if scripting support is not
available (for whatever reason) content is still accessible.
2. How to make scripted content accessible where scripting support is

It becomes clear that the technology assumption should be that scripting
support is not available and that this assumption could be the adopted
Authors can then implement both techniques (write scripts that are
accessible and that degrade gracefully where scripting support is not
available) without making any assumptions themselves.

In summary then, I would suggest that it would be prudent to pursue the
option of providing an explicit baseline, even if it were minimal.

A greater motivational reason than many would be to eliminate the current
trend for tests to act as the implied baseline.


Neil Whiteley
Received on Wednesday, 23 March 2005 18:15:44 UTC

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