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RE: Validation as test for basic accessibility

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 19:45:33 -0800
Message-Id: <>
To: "Charles F. Munat" <charles@munat.com>
Cc: "Web Accessibility Initiative" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
At 01:41 PM 1/19/2000 , Charles F. Munat wrote:
>Kynn Bartlett wrote:
>"Don't 'we' say [make sure your code is valid] all the time?
>No, "you" say that all the time. The amount of discussion this thread has caused shows that not everyone agrees on the importance of valid code.

I'm not sure that's the case.  I think we all agree it's an important
first step, but may or may not be the only first step.

>And when you say that it does not meet the requirements for a P1 checkpoint, what evidence to you offer to support this claim?

I'm using the definition of Priority One from the WCAG itself.

Priority One:
"A Web content developer must satisfy this checkpoint. Otherwise, one
or more groups will find it impossible to access information in the
document. Satisfying this checkpoint is a basic requirement for some
groups to be able to use Web documents."

Valid HTML is logically and provably -not- a basic requirement for
accessibility; and thus "use valid HTML" isn't a P1 checkpoint.

>That may be the way the WCAG currently reads, but it's not necessarily the best way. (Note that I am not suggesting that we change it, only that we should avoid making anything too sacred.)

I agree that nothing should be considered too sacred.

>There is a difference between the priority levels and the way we teach accessibility.


>Just because something is priority one doesn't mean we should necessarily teach it first (and vice versa).


>I don't recall anyone suggesting that valid code be moved to priority one, but that doesn't mean we can't stress it's importance (or that making the code valid makes meeting many of the other requirements easier).

I think that they're two different "good things" to do.  I would love
for everyone to learn to do both of them.  But I still view them as
different but related things.

>"I found some of my
>students were very scared... that in addition to 
>learning accessible web design, they'd 'have to' learn HTML 4.0,
>CSS 1, etc to have any hope of making an accessible site."
>I don't see the connection. "Make sure your code is valid" and "Learn HTML 4.0" are two distinct statements. If you can get valid code from a WYSIWYG device, great!

But you can't get valid code from many WYSIWYG editors these days.
And in order to figure out why your code is not valid, you need to
have an understanding of what it's doing and how to fix it.

>Surely you're not suggesting that it's too hard for your students to learn to use the validator.

I'm saying that it adds an extra barrier of complexity.  The W3C
validator is pretty opaque in what it produces and isn't particularly
designed to be user friendly (note: I love it, and I love the guy who
made it; this is just the truth about the way the service is put
together) -- it -is- very hard for some people to produce valid code,
if they're used to using WYSIWYG editors.

(Ann Navarro might be able to speak more on this -- her students seem
to have more problems with valid HTML than mine.  Week 3 of my class,
I think, requires you to find one of your pages or someone else's with
validity problems and fix them, BTW.)

>"Most web designers, though, [do not enjoy reading technical specifications]"
>I certainly don't try to teach HTML 4.0 from the specification! But I do think that we should strongly encourage people to learn HTML before attempting anything really complex. It's one thing to put up an attractive, simple page. It's another to be integrating multimedia, doing complex tables, scripting, etc.

I agree!  Unfortunately, most people who design web sites, as you've
note (and I snipped) don't think they have to learn HTML before
making a web site.

>Mostly, this is an issue that should be addressed with the makers of those WYSIWYG creators. Why do they produce invalid code? Perhaps if more people were aware of the importance of valid code, more pressure might be brought to bear on the WYSIWYG folks to fix their software so it produces valid code.

That's why I'm personally involved with the Authoring Tools WG. :)

>I reiterate: no-one said anything about making anyone learn a "long list of very technical specs." On the other hand, asking people to use the validator might make them more aware of the shortcomings of their authoring software.

Yes, which is why I do that.

>"I would much rather teach them sound principles of accessible
>design than to require strict adherence to today's standards."
>The two are not mutually exclusive.

I know that.

>Who said anything about not teaching the "sound principles of accessible design"? You're creating an either-or fallacy here.

No, I'm talking about what works best for some audiences and 
may not for other.

>It's not one or the other. Why not do both (substituting "encourage" for "require")?

I do both.

>"Validity is good, but validity is not required for accessibility,
>More pronouncements from on high with nothing to back them up. Flex a little, Kynn. Is this really all that dangerous? Must we do it your way, "period"?

That's not a "pronouncement from on high," that's my opinion.  I'm
sorry if -you- feel it's dangerous; I think you're projecting or
something and reading a whole lot into what I wrote.  I don't like
being accused of arrogance or having words put into my mouth that
I didn't say -- such as "do it my way" -- because I state my opinion.

I'm giving up on the rest of this response, because I'm too irked
and may say things I regret.  For the rest of you out there, please
don't do what Charles did here.  Thanks.

Kynn Bartlett                                    mailto:kynn@hwg.org
President, HTML Writers Guild                    http://www.hwg.org/
AWARE Center Director                          http://aware.hwg.org/
Received on Friday, 21 January 2000 22:53:54 UTC

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