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RE: Validation as test for basic accessibility

From: Christopher R. Maden <crism@exemplary.net>
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 10:55:57 -0800
Message-Id: <v01530500b4abb2b2559f@[]>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
[Bruce Bailey]
>Does anyone publish serious work that is
>grammatically correct but unintelligible?

Check out any journal of social or literary criticism.

I think you're right that most pages that are valid are also accessible.
However, I don't think that plugging validity will help accessibility.

The sort of people who care, now, about validity are people who care about
playing by the rules and doing the right thing.  These people will, for the
same reasons, also care about accessibility.  In other words, validity and
accessibility are two symptoms of the same condition.

In '94 or early '95, when the SGML geeks were still a significant portion
of the HTML community, validity was pushed very hard indeed, including some
accessibility rules like "always include ALT text" (which wasn't actually
enforced by the 2.0 DTD, I believe).  What this led to was a lot of blind
following of the rules - users who replaced all their <i>s with <em>s,
because somehow <em> was better, and who added ALT="" to get past the
validators, but didn't give a value for the ALT attribute.  In other words,
they were hassled into abiding by the letter, but not the spirit, of the
guidelines, leaving pages that had the illusion of accessibility, which is
worse than an obviously broken page.  A user with disabilities,
encountering a completely broken page, may take the time to analyze it,
possibly even using the source instead of the rendered page; while an
apparently working page may silently lose information without the user ever

In conclusion, I think that focusing energy on promoting validity per se
would not be helpful to the cause of accessibility.


Christopher R. Maden, Solutions Architect
Exemplary Technologies
One Embarcadero Center, Ste. 2405
San Francisco, CA 94111
Received on Wednesday, 19 January 2000 13:53:43 UTC

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