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508 rule L and WCAG 6.3

From: Quinn, Anthony <anthonyq@testingcentre.com>
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 2003 10:32:44 +1100
Message-ID: <E04829959D1DD511ABEE0000C54F1ECB90989F@mailman.accessonline.com.au>
To: "'w3c-wai-ig@w3.org'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Hello all,

I am interested in your opinions relating to the similarity or difference
between rule L of US Section 508 standards and WCAG Checkpoint 6.3.

My interpretation is that they are almost equivalent, except for the
following differences:

1. 508 does not require a page with scripts to work if scripts are disabled
or not supported, while WCAG 6.3 does.

2. 508 says "...the information provided by the script shall be identified
with functional text that can be read by assistive technology." My
interpretation of "functional text" is a bit hazy. I would expect that this
standard requires that information provided or created by a script and the
user interface controls used to manipulate the script, i.e. the input and
output elements generated by the script, are in themselves accessible. 

However, it seems that this is not the case and all that is required is to
"identify" the information. I interpret this as "provide a text description
of the information". This suggests that it's OK for the output from a script
to be inaccessible, as long as it has an accessible description.

For example, a user might invoke a script which generates a bus timetable
between locations A & B. The information contained in the timetable might be
inaccessible, but as long as there is an identification, e.g. "Here is the
bus timetable between A & B", this is compliant with rule L.

I'm basing this on my interpretation of an explanation of 508 rule L which
is available at this URL
http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/guide/1194.22.htm#(l) 

For convenience, here is the text of the 508 standard in question:

(l) When pages utilize scripting languages to display content, or to create
interface elements, the information provided by the script shall be
identified with functional text that can be read by assistive technology.

As always, your opinions will be of value and interest.

Cheers

Anthony

------------------------------------------------
Anthony Quinn
Interaction Design and Accessibility Specialist

Access Testing Centre 
A division of Access OnLine Pty Limited
112 Alexander Street      P: +61 2 9467 5047 
Crows Nest NSW 2065       F: +61 2 9467 5020 
E-mail: anthonyq@testingcentre.com 
http://www.testingcentre.com 
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Received on Sunday, 2 March 2003 18:32:44 GMT

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