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ATAG, accessible content Re: ACollab Work Groups 1.1

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@sidar.org>
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2004 12:57:55 +0200
Message-Id: <DAEED0A2-BEBA-11D8-84A2-000A958826AA@sidar.org>
Cc: <info@atutor.ca>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>, <g.gay@utoronto.ca>
To: sdale@stevendale.com

On 15 Jun 2004, at 02:44, Steven Dale wrote:

>> Perhaps someday AChecker could evaluate uploaded content, but that's a
>> ways off. AChecker is a web content accessibility verifier. It 
>> evaluates
>>  HTML. Though you could use HTML files with ACollab, users would
>> probably  be more likely to be sharing MSword docs, text files, or 
>> some
>> other  non-web format.

While I don't think much of MSWord or PDF as Web formats, I don't think 
much of HTML 3.2 as a web format either, and there are a lot of things 
in HTML that should be in a more appropriate format.

However it is possible to directly check the accessibility of all these 
formats - and through one strategy or another make them accessible. 
Conversion to HTML is not necessarily the best answer, although for 
most cases it would be my preferred one. I get PDF maps pretty 
frequently, and I don't think HTML is an adequate format for making 
them accessible (nor, IMHO, is PDF much good for that).

> Yes, That is what I am having problems trying to solve.  When someone
> uploads an article, for instance in word format, how do you make sure 
> it
> is converted to accessible html on the fly?  If web desingers didnt 
> have
> to adapt the uploaded files for accessibility, their acceptance of an
> accessible web would be more open.

ACollab IS an authoring tool according to the definitions used by the 
W3C group working in the area. Just not a very powerful one - it should 
be used as part of a suite that includes content creation, checking and 
repair in order to support accessibility. Making authoring tools 
"accessible" - in the sense of making them conform to ATAG, is actually 
a very complex job that involves a lot of careful thinking. There has 
been a lot of progress since the publication of ATAG 1 in early 2000, 
but there is a long way to go.

On the other hand, authors will have to adapt content to make it 
accessible until they get really god tools across the board.

>> Forcing authors to make their content accessible, though perhaps
>> desirable, is not practical from a business perspective. If they don't
>> like being forced, they will use someone else product that does not
>> force accessibility upon them.

This is true. In early drafts of ATAG there was a requirement that 
tools not force authors if they didn't want to include accessibility. 
It was dropped, because the group decided that some tool developers or 
their customers might want the option to reject anything that didn't 
meet requirements, and that while this wasn't a universal use case it 
does no harm to accessibility for those who are using it.

Only 5 years later, this decision seems well justified. Although the 
majority of systems still don't force authors to conform, because the 
majority of authors will just create junk information to make it look 
like they do, I have been involved in a handful of commercial 
developments where a customer requirement is the ability to block 
anything that has not passed a rigorous authorisation process that 
includes accessibility checking.

W3C has a similar process - you're not allowed to publish something as 
a specification that doesn't meet certain rules, including conformance 
to WCAG level A. If they had better tools it would help (as more specs 
would get blocked earlier, and become easier to use at the beginning of 
their development cycle instead of towards the end when it is harder to 
make changes). But it is another example of a use case for forcing 
compliance. And it has nothing to do with any legislation.

>> There has to be legislation to enforce
>> this type of requirement. You're better off making the accessibility
>> tools available, and informing your users, than forcing them to abide
>> (in most cases).

I like tools that can put a block in place, or let you pass through, 
according to a user setting. But I tend to look for the best tool for 
the job, where the learning I need to do and whether I can import and 
export my data easily to/from another system is an important part of 
the choice.

Just a personal 2 euro cents



Charles McCathieNevile                          Fundación Sidar
charles@sidar.org                                http://www.sidar.org
Received on Tuesday, 15 June 2004 06:58:35 UTC

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