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WCAG 1.0 interpretation

From: Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>
Date: Mon, 11 Jul 2005 14:08:30 +0200
To: "WCAG group" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <op.stqz0g0qwxe0ny@pc099.qadoc.oslo.opera.com>

Hi,

as far as I can tell this is the only group that can make an authorative  
statement on WCAG 1.0 interpretation. So I would like the group to clarify  
something that seems not to ever reach a common interpretation in the  
wider community.

It is to do with (once again) tables for layout. As I read WCAG, it says  
that to reach double-A conformance you have to meet each checkpoint of  
priority 1 and each checkpoint of priority 2. This means that if you use  
tables for layout you may very well meet all the checkpoints in guideline  
5 (at all priorities) which apply to tables, but you do not meet  
checkpoint 3.3 "Use style sheets to control layout and presentation",  
which is a priority 2 checkpoint. Therefore you do not meet level double-A  
conformance.

(Note that the question of actual accessibility is seperate from  
conformance. This question is not about whether you should be able to  
claim double-A because you are "doing the right thing", but assumes that  
conformance is meant to be more or less interoperable and reliable. So it  
is about reading what the specification does say, not what it would say if  
we wrote it today).

The specific problem arises because a member of WAI staff has been quoted  
as saying that they interpret the checkpoints on table layout as meaning  
that a page is "OK" if it linearises properly, and this has been taken as  
an official position of WAI and the WCAG group. As far as I know WAI has  
no formal position on interpretation of WCAG beyond what the WCAG group  
says, and as far as I can tell the group has never formally published a  
resolution to this question, apparently preferring to rely on what is  
written in the specification and hope that interpretations converge.

It seems that differing interpretations are continuing, and tool  
developers such as Sidar (with Hera) and the FICYT (with TAW) are  
currently following different paths, and giving different results, which  
leads to long-term problems of fragmentation. As a content provider, we  
can get two different evaluations, which are incompatible. Given that each  
actually covers areas that are unique, it would be useful to be able to  
put the results together. This is currently impossible - so we just choose  
whichever interpretation suits us, as do most others, and it turns out to  
be different in different situations.

I would be happy to join a meeting to discuss this question, or work  
through the mailing list. If the WCAG group has in fact devolved  
responsibility for interpretation and agreed to pass its authority to some  
other group, that would also be useful information. I could not find the  
issue discussed in http://www.w3.org/2003/12/wcag10-errata-table.html  
which seemed like where it would be if it was due for resolution, or had  
been resolved.

best regards

Charles McCathieNevile

-- 
Charles McCathieNevile                              chaals@opera.com
          hablo español - je parle français - jeg lærer norsk
   Here's one we prepared earlier:   http://www.opera.com/download
Received on Monday, 11 July 2005 12:08:42 GMT

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