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Re: To stray or not stray...

From: Judy Brewer <jbrewer@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 05 May 2000 20:14:37 -0400
Message-Id: <3.0.5.32.20000505201437.009a4d80@localhost>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Cc: Melinda Morris-Black <melinda@ink.org>
WAI Interest Group:

A few thoughts in response to this thread and other recent threads on the
WAI Interest Group list.

1. Awareness: 

WAI is aware that for some purposes the Web Content Accessibility
Guidelines are not the easiest starting point for making a Web page
accessible; for other purposes, though, we hear that they are excellent,
exactly what is needed, the best reference, etc. Given that there are
different needs for different audiences, WAI is addressing this in several
ways, through work in two of our groups, described below.

2. Easier implementation resources:

In the Education & Outreach Working Group (EOWG), we are developing a
variety of materials that can help meet different needs. Things that
already exist include the "Quick Tips"
<http://www.w3.org/WAI/References/QuickTips>; the "Getting Started: Making
a Web Site Accessible" page <http://www.w3.org/WAI/gettingstarted>, and the
"Curriculum for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines"
<http://www.w3.org/WAI/wcag-curric>. (Many people find the companion
checklist <http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG/full-checklist> for the guidelines the
most useful reference piece, given that it is organized by priorities and
features.) 

We know those aren't enough, so we are working on other supporting
resources and will add ones beyond that. Additional easy intros that the
EOWG is working on now include a gallery of accessible Web sites;
eventually some simple templates of accessible sites; and we've considered
things like sample implementation approaches for different settings, for
instance universities, agencies, and corporations. From recent discussion
it sounds like there would be interest in those latter kinds of resources. 

This group will be rechartering soon, including an emphasis on these
issues, and issuing a new call for participation; generally, the more hands
& the more perspectives, the more good resources can get developed which
are then available for the whole community to use.

3. Evolving the guidelines to meet more/different needs:

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (WCAG WG) is also
aware of this need for simpler ways of using the guidelines. They renewed
their W3C charter and issued a call for participation in January, 2000
<http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-ig/2000JanMar/0224.html>.
Information on how to join the group is at
<http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/howto-join-wg.html> and people are very welcome
to join. 

It's important for people interested in usability & simplicity issues to
join the group, while realizing that it's a consensus environment where
it's also important to address the need for sometimes more complex
information needed for some purposes. It can sometimes take extensive
dialog to arrive at solutions which can meet different kinds of needs, but
that is what the W3C/WAI working group process is for -- to get
representatives from different communities including industry, disability,
access research and government developing solutions together.

For people who can't make the commitment to participate in that dialog
fully, the WCAG WG mailing list <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org> is still the best place
to send their comments and suggestions about the guidelines for
consideration. They may also want to be sure to comment on the next
"requirements document" (this is a statement of what should be in an
advanced/next version of WCAG) which the WCAG WG will send to the WAI
Interest Group list for review & comment soon. (If you want to see
work-in-progress before it is sent to the WAI IG list for review, visit the
WCAG WG home page at <http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL>.) It would help quite a lot
if even more people would review & comment on draft WAI documents carefully
and frequently when they are in draft stage, as _all_ of these perspectives
raise the quality and usability of the final documents.

4. Problems with proliferation of guidelines:

Proliferation of different guidelines can make accessibility harder to
achieve. If Web designers need to design to a different set of requirements
each time they change customers, it increases the time they spend figuring
out how to design each site. In addition, people developing software
implementations that support the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines -- in
browsers, multimedia players, Web site authoring software, and
accessibility checkers and retrofitting tools -- won't have as clear a set
of requirements to coordinate with. We are currently encouraged by progress
around the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG)-- implementations
of ATAG in mainstream software are underway and will help automate the
production of accessible Web sites -- and the User Agent Accessibility
Guidelines, implementations of which will help browsers, multimedia players
and assistive technologies to be more accessible. 

It may make sense to develop customized deployment approaches for different
settings, as has been suggested on this list, and that is something that
the EOWG will be looking at. But instead of developing different
guidelines, I would encourage collaboration in making sure that W3C/WAI
guidelines and resources can better reflect the ease-of-use concerns that
have been raised in various settings, so as to over time be able to have a
consistent core of accessible design recommendations, with a variety of
supporting resources appropriate to different audiences.

Regards,

- Judy

-- 
Judy Brewer    jbrewer@w3.org    +1.617.258.9741    http://www.w3.org/WAI
Director,Web Accessibility Initiative(WAI), World Wide Web Consortium(W3C)

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Received on Friday, 5 May 2000 20:15:10 GMT

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