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RE: Summary of arguements

From: David MacDonald <befree@magma.ca>
Date: Sun, 6 Nov 2005 13:45:43 -0500
Message-Id: <200511061845.jA6IjjEX022836@mail4.magma.ca>
To: "'Gregg Vanderheiden'" <gv@trace.wisc.edu>, "'WAI WCAG List'" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

Full Reading length 480 words:

Summary - I recommend one (or a combination) of the following:
A) Wendy's F2F proposal at Level 1
B) Validity at Level 2
C) Do a detailed formal study (for a month or so) forecasting the fallout,
repercussions, and benefits from the various positions. This would be a
rigorous study involving a hundred or so interviews, much like big companies
do before releasing an expensive new product to market. I would be willing
to share this work item.

Full Text...

As a consultant who knows how to write valid code, or at least how to get it
there (our site www.eramp.com is valid), a WCAG requirement of validity
would perhaps put me in a small crowd of consultants who know about this
stuff, and as such could increase demand for my services. 

On the other hand, I am concerned that a lot of my billing time would be
spent chasing down invalid code, and eating up companies' accessibility
budgets on work that may not always increase accessibility. Perhaps
companies would increase their accessibility budgets to allow for this but I
don't know. 

In business school they would tell us at this point to go out and do a study
of the potential fall out, repercussions and assimilation, of both
positions. Maybe that's what we need to do.

Philosophically, I think that the responsibility of validity should go to
the Web coding department, not the accessibility budget. Of course in theory
Web coders should also write WCAG conforming code so there should be no need
for a consultant. It's not a perfect world and that's why I have a job. I
think it is a crime that web coders aren't taught validity in school, but
I'm not sure it's our job to enforce it. 

A well known consultant on accessibility up here in Canada said that he
would like to see validity required because he doesn't think that everybody
should pass the WCAG and he would like to see the bar "higher." I'm not
quite as confident that it will make companies want to jump higher. 

I have been reading all the arguments pro and con and I want to say that I'm
really impressed with the quality of thinking from all contributors to the
discussions. Everybody has very articulate and compelling arguments.

I'm beginning to think that Wendy's idea at the F2F for 4.1 is the middle
ground that is worthy of revisiting. At level 1 identify the top validation
errors that will affect accessibility. Then the coding department will be a
lot closer to validity, and they can take it the rest of the way.

Since validation is a priority 2 in WCAG 1.0, that is one factor in favour
of it a Level 2 in our guidelines. Conceptually, it would be easier to grasp
there even though the 1.0 priorities and the 2.0 Levels are not exact
correlations. We may want to consider:

A) Wendy's F2F proposal at Level 1
B) Valitity at Level 2

C) Do a detailed formal study (for a month or so) forcasting the fallout,
repercssions, and benefits from the various positions. This would be a
rigorous study much like big companies do before releasing an expensive new
product to market. 

(and either one or both of those. It may not be a perfect solution but it is
not a perfect world)

David MacDonald

.Access empowers people
            .barriers disable them.


-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org] On Behalf
Of Gregg Vanderheiden
Sent: Saturday, November 05, 2005 4:06 PM
To: 'Matt May'; 'WAI WCAG List'
Subject: RE: Summary of arguements FOR validity -- and another against --
and a third of alternatives

Thanks Matt

Anyone - any others?  


 -- ------------------------------ 
Gregg C Vanderheiden Ph.D. 
Professor - Ind. Engr. & BioMed Engr.
Director - Trace R & D Center 
University of Wisconsin-Madison 

-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org] On Behalf
Of Matt May
Sent: Friday, November 04, 2005 7:49 PM
Subject: Re: Summary of arguements FOR validity -- and another against --
and a third of alternatives

So as not to introduce bias, I will only attempt to answer the arguments
against validity at Level 1.

On Nov 4, 2005, at 1:59 PM, Gregg Vanderheiden wrote:
2) Now I need someone (else?) to send one of the arguments against.


HTML validity cannot be established as a necessary minimum requirement for

Many validity failures have no direct bearing on accessibility, or even any
bearing whatsoever.

In some documented cases, attempting to hack invalid code so that it passes
validation causes the code to be less accessible to AT.

The state of the Web:

Certain functions intended to increase direct accessibility with AT,
including code designed by AT vendors themselves, are invalid, and there are
no signs their use will recede in the foreseeable future.

The percentage of authoring tools (including content management
systems) in today's market that reliably produce valid output at all times
is well under half, and as older products are factored in, the figure
approaches zero.

The production of valid HTML is not a common skill set among everyday
developers, outside of a small group of skilled practicioners.

Validity is not a state commonly understood by non-technical producers of
HTML, who number in the tens of millions.

It may never be possible to make some content valid, because the flaw is
created by a tool or process that cannot be changed by the responsible


WAI and the WCAG WG produce recommendations for increasing accessibility to
PWDs and are not, and must not be seen as, crusaders for or enforcers of
other W3C specifications.

A minimum requirement of validity would consign a large proportion of
accessibility repair work to tasks that may not, in the end, actually
improve things for users.

A minimum requirement of validity would introduce a potentially enormous
amount of time and expense to repair larger legacy sites, for an benefit
that is hard to quantify, and therefore hard to justify.

Establishing a process for producing and maintaining valid content is a more
effective tactic for increasing overall Web validity than specifying that
the final outcome must be valid.

Received on Sunday, 6 November 2005 18:46:17 UTC

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