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RE: Validation as test for basic accessibility

From: Charles F. Munat <charles@munat.com>
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 09:56:43 -0800
To: "Steven McCaffrey" <smccaffr@MAIL.NYSED.GOV>
Cc: "WAI Interest Group" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <NDBBKDNHDLCHIDEDGEICIELJCDAA.charles@munat.com>
Bruce wrote:
"My own personal experience is that producing valid code is an invaluable
step towards producing accessible code."

Steve replied:
"Precisely, Bruce, it is a step, not all steps.  Glad you now agree with me and others."

Bruce also wrote:
"It is my impression that authors who care about
validity care about content and much less about presentation, and therefore
they don't bother with multimedia nor fancy CSS -- so it happens that their
pages ARE accessible, even if they did not work to achieve this."

And Steve replied:
"It's my impression that descent, good-natured, honest, law-abiding people who follow the law follow the law even though they did not look up every law on the books and consciously decide to follow them.  wow, isn't that amazing?  I bet we really don't need laws, what about you Bruce? Think we're on to something big?"

My response to Steve:

Putting aside your obvious sarcasm (which, frankly, does not help your argument), you're barking up the wrong tree. I've been following this thread with some interest, and I hope Bruce will permit me an attempt to restate his argument.

First, I don't recall Bruce saying that validation = accessibility. In fact, he clearly acknowledged the difference. So to point out that it is "a step, not all steps," is a bit disingenuous. You are wasting time arguing where there is no disagreement.

Ditto for your second point, which implies that Bruce thinks the WCAG unnecessary. He said nothing of the sort, neither does he believe that or he wouldn't be on this list. Again, you're being disingenuous.

What Bruce DID say, as I understand it, includes the following:

1. HTML validation is an important part of ensuring accessibility. Not the whole of it, but an important part.

2. Selling people on validation might be easier than selling them on accessibility.

3. Once sold on validation, the jump to accessible code is much smaller (thus less frightening).

4. While we continue to push for accessibility, perhaps we should further augment our arsenal by pushing for validity as well. A sort of one-two punch combination.

As I see it, the real question here is whether pushing validity will help us to sell accessibility, or dilute our message. So far, I haven't seen anyone address this issue.

I currently build/consult on web sites and I advertise myself as specializing in accessible web site design. Furthermore, I refuse to take assignments if the client won't agree to meeting accessibility standards, at least to single A (with most AA and AAA checkpoints as well). I have been using the validity argument for some time, and, properly done, I believe it does help.

That said, I would like to hear what others think on this issue. Instead of arguing about whether validity = accessibility (which was never Bruce's point anyway), let's address the real issue that Bruce has raised.

Finally, speaking as someone who is often too busy to participate in this forum, I think we could significantly reduce the amount of wasted ink (pixels?) if we read carefully the arguments of others and responded only after we were certain we a) understand the argument and b) have something of value to contribute. Then, perhaps, instead of receiving twenty messages on a topic, fifteen of which are off the point or redundant, we might receive only five. But those five would clearly and concisely argue the issue (sans sarcasm, please).

For what it's worth, that's my two cents.

Charles F. Munat,
Munat, Inc.
Seattle, Washington
Received on Wednesday, 19 January 2000 12:56:33 GMT

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