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Re: Proposed omission of explicit baseline in WCAG 2

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.its.unimelb.edu.au>
Date: Wed, 30 Mar 2005 18:12:36 +1000
Message-ID: <16970.24436.23087.76963@jdc.local>
To: Web Content Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

Kerstin Goldsmith writes:
 > 
 > In essence, I agree completely ... except for with one thing:  I do not 
 > agree that javascript versions of navbars (or anything else that has a 
 > relatively ok HTML+CSS implementation) should be banned /unless /they 
 > cannot be made accessible.  Otherwise, anything that can be made 
 > accessible (and I agree wholeheartedly that js can be used and 
 > implemented in an accessible fashion, with techniques listed in several 
 > places out there, some of which we do use) should never be banned.  I am 
 > anti-banning altogether.  I know that goes against a lot of what is 
 > being discussed with baseline, but banning is just setting a bad 
 > precedent, and I think it will completely undermine the validity, 
 > usefulness and therefore adoption and support, of WCAG 2.0. 

First of all, I think it would be better for purposes of this
discussion to avoid terminology that carries unintended and
potentially inflammatory implications.

So far as I am aware, nobody is proposing to ban anything, but only to
draw different boundaries as to which content does and does not
conform to WCAG. If content doesn't conform to WCAG, this does not
mean it is "banned" unless someone adopts a policy prohibiting
non-conforming content; but the question of whether such a policy is
desirable or not lies outside the scope of WCAG and of this working
group.

Nevertheless I agree with Kerstin's over-all position that content
written in a technology which can be used in a manner that supports
accessibility, should be capable of conforming to WCAG. Let's now
state more precisely what this means:

If there is a UAAG-conformant implementation of the technology, then
content written in reliance on that technology should be regarded as
accessible so long as it meets the WCAG success criteria. If there is
not a UAAG-conformant implementation of the technology, but the
content makes use of repair strategies which adequately compensate for
the requirements of UAAG that aren't supported by at least one
implementation, then likewise the content should be considered
conformant, provided it meets the success criteria. That's essentially
the approach I outlined earlier this week; it draws a clear line at
which the author's responsibility stops, and that of user agent and
assistive technology developers starts. It is not backward-looking. It
encourages newer technologies to be used in an accessible fashion, in
contrast with alternatives that create no incentive to take advantage
of the accessibility-related features of emerging technologies. It
does not set arbitrary requirements concerning widespread availability
of a technology, of the kind that would inevitably be inappropriate,
even harmful, in different ways in diverse contexts.

Finally, the solution I am recommending acknowledges that developers
will adopt new technologies irrespective of whatever restrictive
baseline might be imposed by WCAG, and recognizes that the guidelines
should support this process.

Providing content that is compatible with legacy technologies is a
good design practice that should be encouraged; but it should not be a
conformance requirement.
Received on Wednesday, 30 March 2005 08:13:28 GMT

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