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Not making links...

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 17 Sep 2002 07:13:23 -0400 (EDT)
To: WAI IG <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>, Jonathan Chetwynd <j.chetwynd@btinternet.com>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.30.0209170605060.12468-100000@tux.w3.org>

Provision of a text version and a visually interesting version of something
are two important parts of accessibility. Neither is sufficient to ensure
full accessibility on its own, and even when they are both present there is
more that is required.

There are various things that need to be done - as Jonathan says,
accessibility isn't something that will be completely solved if we only think
of one page at a time.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are important, because they provide
the basis for at least making each individual page accessible. (well, nearly.
I'll return to that below.)

But having accessible pages is no good if the browser is unusable. The User
Agent Accessibility Guidelines describe how to make sure that isn't the case.

And even if all the authors and browsers makers work hard to get everything
right (and the evidence is that they are working on it but many have not yet
got there), it needs to be possible to make accessible pages in the first
place.

The XML Accessibility Guidelines (an internal working draft was published
yesterday at http://www.w3.org/WAI/PF/XML and comments are welcome) describe
what needs to be done to make sure that the format people use is accessible.

Actual conformance to these three specifications (full conformance, not
just picking the easy parts) might really provide accessibility. We don't
know yet - although there is enough triple-A WCAG conformant content to test
there isn't a triple-A UAAG conformant browser to test it on, and XAG is
still a working draft in development. But it seems that if we haven't got the
whole thing right, at least things are improving. From what I find on the Web
there are more forward steps than backward steps.

One of the biggest backward steps I can imagine would be not providing
content just because we don't know how to make it completely accessible. The
only thing worse that I can imagine is deliberately not doing something that
we know (well, we believe strongly at any rate) would make content more
accessible.

(more about WCAG and individual pages...

Actually WCAG 1.0 already worked for more than just individual pages - there
are several checkpoints dealing with sites, when to use client-side or
servcer-side techniques, and presenting information that might be available
in a variety of forms. This has been followed up in the development of WCAG
2, with the help of people who had applied WCAG 1.0 in this way, and I hope
that when WCAG 2 is ready it will be even clearer about this than WCAG 1...)

cheers

Chaals


Jonathan Chetwynd wrote:

Our students and staff expect users to be able to click once and get
multimedia content. when every site has its own browser sniffers, knows
nothing of bandwidth or plugins and this information has to be re-evaluated
on each occassion, our users are seriously disadvantaged. It is plain that
ordinary users find this an unneccessary trial, and one that needs attention.

Are we not to provide a link to charlie chaplin's the general, just because
there is no text equivalent? In my view if the host maintains that this is
best viewed in a certain size window, they may well be right. if it needs
broadband, we may as well assume that is available too...

provision of a text equivalent, no more meets 'accessibility standards' than
does the provision of multi-media, and we are a long way from that.

Of more general concern, it is possible to imagine a triple A conformance
portal, it is the sites that it links to that present a problem, and that is
not neccessarily, one of their own choosing. It is certainly time that more
of our efforts were put into defining the accessibility of something greater
than individual web pages.

Our students genuinely need a 'fun' experience to motivate them, they wont
get this from a wap phone, or a lynx browser, and yet we still do try our
best to follow w3c/wai guidelines.

jonathan chetwynd
Received on Tuesday, 17 September 2002 07:13:25 GMT

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