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RE: Is AAA Onerous?

From: Charles F. Munat <chas@munat.com>
Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2000 14:33:40 -0800
To: "'Kynn Bartlett'" <kynn-edapta@idyllmtn.com>
Cc: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <002201c06ad4$e7774be0$0100a8c0@aries>
Kynn wrote:
"Any 'standard' which involves a subjective judgment is onerous because
nobody can know for certainty if they have 'satisfied' it, and therefore
anyone else can accuse them of not having met the standard if they so
choose."

Reply:

ALL standards require subjective judgment. That is why we have courts.
Despite putting lawyers through years of training and spending huge sums of
money to write documents as objectively as possible, every document is open
to interpretation and misinterpretation. Are you arguing that we should
abandon laws and standards?

The WCAG is far from perfect, and there are certainly a few checkpoints that
are far too vague. But like any other standard, it presumes that people are
reasonable and that the intent is to meet the standard, not to subvert it.

The WCAG was not intended to be a hard-and-fast standard. It was not
intended to be the basis for laws or regulations. Section 508 is another
story, which is why it is being worded differently. But no matter how
carefully they word it, there will be numerous court cases to settle
disagreements, and in the end, a judge will decide. That won't necessarily
be correct or fair, but it's the best system we've come up with so far.

Compliance with the WCAG is voluntary. I haven't heard of any instance where
a site was forced (by group pressure or a complaint from the WAI) to remove
an icon. I doubt that anyone on this list would bother unless the offense
was particularly egregious. Some might comment or criticize, but I don't see
anyone on the warpath.

You are making mountains out of molehills. Most of the guidelines are quite
clear when taken at face value. That others require more interpretation is
no reason to claim that the document as a whole is worthless.

I don't think that you'll be successful in removing all subjectivity from
WCAG 2. In fact, as we get more concerned with accessibility to people with
cognitive disabilities, I think you'll find that the guidelines will get
more subjective and compliance will become more onerous. The current
guidelines, which were really intended to make sites accessible across
various browsers and special technology, are fairly simple to implement,
even if they require certain sacrifices. Wait until we start addressing
issues of usability and the use of images to represent ideas. I can hardly
wait.

Kynn wrote:
"I really wish you could lay off resorting to personal attacks or things
like it, and instead address what I say."

Reply:

You attack us in general terms, claiming that those who disagree are
unenlightened. We respond directly (which I think is a lot less
disingenuous). So no-one, save you, is resorting to personal attacks. We are
*responding* to personal attacks. And since most of what you say seems to be
"I'm right, you're wrong, and anyone who can't see that is unrealistic," I'd
say we're addressing exactly what you say. Keep your comments to the
guidelines and stop making judgments of those who disagree with you, and
you'll get a better response.

Kynn wrote:
"What is not under debate are my own interpretations, as I didn't even
_give_ them, Charles."

Maybe the discussion would benefit if you *would* be specific, Kynn. Such as
telling us specifically who it is that can't seem to grasp reality.

It's easy to bash other points of view when you offer no real point of view
yourself. By avoiding specifics, you avoid exposing yourself to criticism.
Without those specifics, however, your position sounds like this:

The guidelines suck. The compliance system sucks. The interpretations of
many people on this list suck. And anyone who disagrees is a fool.

And then you wonder why some might find you "sour"?

Practice what you preach, Kynn. Lay off attacking us and start talking about
specific guidelines and suggestions for how *you* think they should be
interpreted. Maybe with a little work we can find some mutually agreeable
interpretations to hold us over until WCAG 2 comes out and the you-know-what
really hits the fan.

Charles F. Munat,
Seattle, Washington
Received on Wednesday, 20 December 2000 17:27:38 GMT

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