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RE: Accessibility and its legal requirements

From: Jon Hanna <jon@spin.ie>
Date: Tue, 7 Jan 2003 12:37:29 -0000
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <NDBBLCBLIMDOPKMOPHLHGEPIELAA.jon@spin.ie>

> We have a list of applications on our website allowing people to
> sign up for
> products on line. Due to various reasons and beliefs, a number of these
> applications rely on Javascript to function - one or two use Javascript to
> work out which page they need to go to next. Now checkpoint 6.3 of WCAG
> states "Ensure that pages are usable when scripts [...] are turned off or
> not supported. If this is not possible, provide equivalent
> information on an
> alternative accessible page. [Priority 1]"
>
> The guidance we were given was to include <noscript> content
> indicating that
> Javascript is required for this page. Am I right in believing that this is
> not sufficient to meet priority 1? In that either the page must function
> without javascript, or an alternative non-javascript page must be
> supplied -- that's what's needed, not just noscript elements saying "This
> page is inaccessible".

There are problems with using guidelines as specs, so it's hard to give a
clear answer. However I would certainly frown on such code.

For one thing there is no need. The decision as to what to display next can
be done on the server. If there is a concern about server-load etc. then
javascript could be used to over-ride this decision-making on the client,
leaving the server to only have to deal with cases where javascript is not
functioning.

(Of course one should always beware of any decisions made by the client from
a security perspective).

> From my (albeit biased) approach, frames are not conducive to
> usability and
> visitor accessibility (my bias:
> http://www.html-faq.com/htmlframes/?FramesAreEvil ). But I'm
> surprised that
> WCAG doesn't mention removing the frames and integrating the header and
> navigation into the content. So that opens up two possible viewpoints (I'm
> not inclined to believe this is an error, thus naturally seeking more
> clarification):

The WCAG assume an degree of intelligence and diligence. As such if you are
using frames (or indeed anything) you should have a good reason for them. If
not you shouldn't.

I get the impression you *want* an external opinion saying you should get
rid of the frames.
You should get rid of the frames.

> I believe full accessibility is possible with our current website, but I
> feel that "beancounters" will opt for the lowest cost route to minimum
> adherence. Since there hasn't been a legal test of what is deemed
> "acceptable and reasonable accommodation" for accessibility, I'm sceptical
> that just meeting the letter of the [untested] law is sufficient. Just one
> ruling against is enough to make going for "minimum"
> accessibility project a
> waste of time.
>
> I would love a fully compliant XHTML1.0 Strict, CSS compliant, Bobby and
> Access Valet compliant, non-javascript dependant website - I believe it to
> be completely feasible with a handful of exceptions in
> applications I do not
> have a say in.

Bean counters that don't see the value of sites that are professional,
create a good company image, usable by a large proportion of the potential
market, more easily modified and more amenable to many types of processing,
more readily parsed by search-engines, and will be created by developers
with the higher morale that comes from being able to take more pride in
their work aren't counting all the beans.

"The perfect site" may not be realistic, but meeting minimum legal
requirements is unlikely to be the wisest business choice either.
Received on Tuesday, 7 January 2003 07:28:11 GMT

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