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Re: Politics: Strict Guidelines Considered Harmful

From: Graham Oliver <graham_oliver@yahoo.com>
Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2000 17:11:31 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <20001219011131.11146.qmail@web2102.mail.yahoo.com>
To: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Cc: Marti <marti@agassa.com>, "Charles F. Munat" <chas@munat.com>, "'Anne Pemberton'" <apembert@crosslink.net>, "'Kynn Bartlett'" <kynn@idyllmtn.com>, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
--- Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org> wrote: 

The discussion as I understand it is about a couple of
different things. There is a technical issue - what is
the place of the font element? As I see it, the use of
the font element to enhance backwards compatibility
does not conflict with the use of CSS. The use of font
alone, to provide formatting effects, is like the use
of a style attribute containing CSS, or style sheets
that rely on id attributes to assign styles - it 
makes it very difficult for the reader to provide
therir own styles in a meaningful manner. If it is
done instead of identifying the semantics available in
HTML, this is a double loss. 

I guess the problem that I see in combining style
sheets and deprecated html elements is that the
resulting code becomes bigger and harder to maintain.
Every item on the page is effectively carrying 2 sets
of formatting instructions. The CSS and the html for
older browsers.
I would imagine that this could be difficult to 'sell'
to existing web developers and could create a barrier
to the dissemination of the 'accessibility message'.

Should we be supporting netscape 3? Intersting
question, and one that was raised by Graham Oliver. If
a few people have some log data we could find out
whether it is really used much. If we can also find
out whether that is because people cannot upgrade for
some reason, then we will be approaching an  answer.
The further question is whether that is related to
accessibility, or is because their systems
administratoror purchasing officer prohibits it (in
the latter case, I hope they realise that Netscape 3
was not a free product, and paid for it...). 

yes.. 'should I be developing and testing accessible
web sites that our company designs, on IE 3 and NN 3'.
My current answer is no. My reasoning :-

Development time and testing time are increased.
This raises development costs or alternatively takes
away time that could be used to test more user access
agents for the disabled.

Maintenance of the site is increased as the code is
more extensive and complex.

It could be argued by others (fairly or unfairly?)
that the sites our company produces are simply like
everyone elses, in that they contain all the HTML but
also add on the CSS stuff as well.
ie 'they are bloated, more expensive to produce and
harder to maintain'. That is not the image that I
would want to convey.

Glossing over the fact that there arre a couple of
other very small browsers that work the same, let us
imagine these scenarios: 
Nobody uses it ever. (I know this is not true - a
friend of mine does, but not from any requirement
since he has a numberof other browsers he also uses
from time to time - much as I use Lynx). In this case,
we could just ignore it. And the font element too. 

OK, we know this isn't the case :-)

There are people with reading disabilities, who,
because of their disability are unable to upgrade, and
for whom it is  effectively impossible to read
unformatted text.  Then we need to keep supporting it,
and providing presentation by the use  of font
elements in conjunction with CSS is still necessary

I am uncomfortable with the 'disempowering' nature of
this argument. I know alot of 'non-disabled' people
who are 'unable' to upgrade their browsers. 
The reality being that they need to enlist help to
I accept that it may be easier for a non-disabled
person to enlist that help.
For me this is more a case of making it easier for a
disabled person to upgrade than supporting older

There are people with disabilities who cannot upgrade
and find it difficult to understand default-formatted
content. Same goes, but at P2 instead of P1 level
(this is an abstract discussion - particular
checkpoints of WCAG aside for the moment) 

As above

There are people without disabilities, who use it and
don't want to upgrade There is no accessibility
requirement to use or not use font. There still is a
requirement to use a technology that allows for
meaningful control of presentation (CSS
element/semantic class based styling, for example). It
is up to designers whether they want to provide the
same experience for this population or not.

This seems to be the point that has been being argued
back and forth for a while. 
I have addressed above the reasons why at this point
in time I am choosing not the provide this group with
the 'same experience.'

Which brings me back to another part of the argument.
Should designers expect total control over the
presentation of their page? My 2 bits worth says "No,
that is simply not possible, like expecting someone to
make a night last for 48 hours. It is reasonable for a
designer, within the constraints of the medium, to
provide a presentation that enhances the comprehension
and clarity of their content." (I think that people
were vehemently arguing this point against each other,
but from the same side in fact). my 2 cents on teh
topic that this has become... Charles McCN  

No argument with this at all. My only chance is to
come up with another good analogy, but one doesn't
spring to mind at the moment :-(
My NZ 2 cents worth, which is not very much in anyones
currency :-)

Graham Oliver

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Received on Monday, 18 December 2000 20:11:40 UTC

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