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Intent of "programmatically determined"

From: John M Slatin <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>
Date: Mon, 12 Dec 2005 14:46:30 -0600
Message-ID: <6EED8F7006A883459D4818686BCE3B3B02A99731@MAIL01.austin.utexas.edu>
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

Thursday's discussion about "programmatically determined" revealed that
we may not be completely clear about what we're trying to get at by that

We agreed that the definition might need to be changed.

So here is something that might help us get started (I know Gian and
someone else-- Michael?-- are working on it).

I think we mean two things when we require that some aspect of content
"can be programmatically determined":
1. that aspect of the content is exposed to assistive technology
2. assistive technology recognizes and reports the content correctly

Also, I think I (and maybe others) *assume* that aspects of content that
are available to assistive technology are also available to and usable
by mainstream user agents-- that is, if an AT can get at the content
then a conventional user agent can get at it  too. We need to make sure
this assumption is valid. (

I haven't said anything about "standard and supported" or about

The current definition reads:
"determined by user agents, including assistive technologies, that
support the technologies in the chosen baseline"
As I said on Thursday, that last clause was intended to address the
"standard and supported" idea without using the phrase, and I think it
does that-- note that we define "technology" as
"a data format, programming or markup language, protocol or API."

So (based on what I've said above) we could say that content can't meet
the "programmatically determined" requirement if it isn't exposed to and
usable by assistive technologies that support the data formats,
programming or markup languages, protocols, or APIs in the chosen

We'd be assuming here that conventional user agents would also be able
to render the content correctly, because the AT is able to do so.
Do others feel that I've captured what we mean by "programmatically

Or is something missing/wrong?


"Good design is accessible design."

Dr. John M. Slatin, Director 
Accessibility Institute
University of Texas at Austin 
FAC 248C 
1 University Station G9600 
Austin, TX 78712 
ph 512-495-4288, fax 512-495-4524 
email jslatin@mail.utexas.edu 
Web http://www.utexas.edu/research/accessibility 
Received on Monday, 12 December 2005 20:46:41 UTC

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