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RE: Key results and recommendations from Face to Face

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.its.unimelb.edu.au>
Date: Sat, 26 Mar 2005 11:39:18 +1100
Message-ID: <16964.44854.372277.122577@jdc.local>
To: "Gregg Vanderheiden" <gv@trace.wisc.edu>
Cc: "'John M Slatin'" <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>, "'Al Gilman'" <Alfred.S.Gilman@IEEE.org>, <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

Gregg Vanderheiden writes:
 > Hi Jason,
 > 
 >  I still don't follow your thoughts.   Help me here.
 > 
 >   If there are several acceptable methods then there are several acceptable
 > methods. 
 > 
 >   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 an example would help to clarify the distinctions. Suppose we
decided that we wanted a means of distinguishing "layout" tables in
HTML from genuine data tables. The HTML spec doesn't provide for this,
and in order to be practically useful the chosen technique would have
to be adopted by authors and authoring tools. It would also have to be
recognized by user agents and assistive technologies.

What is needed, then, is an agreed upon technique that content and
software developers could implement, each under the expectation that
the other parties would support it. The question, then, is how this
technique would be chosen, given that there are various ways
(consistently with the HTML spec) of glossing the semantics of table
markup.

Now if WCAG techniques were to step in at this point and recommend one
usage as the norm, then we would be trying to set a standard in the
techniques rather than recording established facts, with the
expectation that software and content developers would follow what was
in the techniques. Of course it might be argued that the techniques
would just be making one of these methods better known; but the
problem is that there aren't really, in this case, two or more
acceptable methods; the technique will only work if it's adopted by
tool and user agent developers. Having an agreed upon technique is
almost more important than what the technique is. The issue I
understood Al to be raising is how these issues would be settled at
the technology-specific level if WCAG didn't provide normative
requirements at this level. Such a problem is distinct from the
so-called "baseline" issue, but it does raise important questions.
Received on Saturday, 26 March 2005 00:41:10 GMT

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