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Further thoughts on user agent support

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.its.unimelb.edu.au>
Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 15:40:44 +1100 (EST)
To: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.4.58.0503241523460.7006@ariel.its.unimelb.edu.au>

While I have a few minutes between appointments, here a a few more fairly
disorganized thoughts on the user agent support problem.

Scenarios I want to avoid:

1. (in a year or two) a developer writes a complicated site using XForms
to provide the user interface. It is highly accessible due to all of the
accessibility-related advantages of XForms, and (let us suppose) there is
even a user agent available that supports XForms and works well with
assistive technologies. Unfortunately the developer can't conform the WCAG
2.0 due to a baseline requirement that excludes XForms.

2. Again in a year or two, a developer is considering implementing a
highly dynamic Web site using the new features of XHTML that are designed
to make scripted content more accessible. The developer is committed to
using scripts, but is willing to use the new features to make the content
accessible to people with disabilities. There is even a user agent that
supports these features compatibly with assistive technologies. The
developer looks at WCAG 2.0, notices the baseline requirement and reasons
as follows:

"If I write my content using the new XHTML features, it won't conform due
to the baseline requirement, and it will involve a certain amount of extra
effort (e.g., changes in my development process and additional testing).
If I write it using legacy techniques it still won't conform and will be
much less accessible, but given that I can't make it WCAG-conformant by
using the new XHTML features, I'm not going to bother and can't justify
the extra work".

Obviously, both of these scenarios are directed against having a normative
baseline, especially a fixed one, or one that requires "widespread"
availability of a technology (whatever that means in more precise terms).

I don't mind a non-normative, changing baseline in the techniques
documents, to provide guidance to developers and policy setters, however.
Received on Thursday, 24 March 2005 04:44:34 GMT

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