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RE: Key results and recommendations from Face to Face

From: Gregg Vanderheiden <gv@trace.wisc.edu>
Date: Fri, 25 Mar 2005 07:36:06 -0600
To: <jasonw@ariel.its.unimelb.edu.au>
Cc: "'John M Slatin'" <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>, "'Al Gilman'" <Alfred.S.Gilman@IEEE.org>, <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-Id: <20050325133607.7B1B760C14B@m18.spamarrest.com>

Hi Jason,

 I still don't follow your thoughts.   Help me here.

  If there are several acceptable methods then there are several acceptable

  If there is only one - then there is only one.

  What is in the techniques doc does not change that fact.   Being in the
techniques doc may make one approach more known.   And it may give the user
of the technique more evidence that it is a good technique.  And it may be
used more.  (is that what you mean by de-facto standard?).   But it does not
make it normative.  And it does not require the user to use it to conform.

Perhaps we are confusing the term "standard" in its two meanings.  One is
"the way most people do it" and the other is " the way you must do it to


Gregg Vanderheiden writes:
 > Pretty good Jason,  except where you made the leap to "if there is no  >
standard than whatever techniques says is de facto standard".  This is not
> true.  If there is no standard and supported manner then there is none --
> and you can't comply with that technology.

In the original post I was trying to clarify what I believed to be one of
the central issues Al raised. Suppose a format specification provides
features that allow a certain requirement to be met in several different
ways. That is, there are various distinct usage practices that would satisfy
the WCAG success criterion. To support accessibility, content developers and
software implementors need to know which to support.

The most likely outcome is that the techniques documents would fill the void
left by the absence of, or inconsistencies among, usage practices with
respect to the success criterion. In substance, the techniques documents
would be legislating by specifying one or more of the alternative solutions
allowed by the format specification; and this is what would give rise to the
accusation I mentioned of conferring a de facto authoritative status on the

One answer might be to adopt a technique development process whereby
proposed techniques are implemented first, tested for efficacy, and only
then integrated into a document; the techniques documents might then be
truly statements of empirical fact rather than disguised norms.
Received on Friday, 25 March 2005 13:36:12 UTC

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