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RE: PDF in WCAG 2

From: John Foliot - WATS.ca <foliot@wats.ca>
Date: Sat, 21 Aug 2004 09:43:11 -0400
To: "'Joe Clark'" <joeclark@joeclark.org>, "'WAI-IG'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <004a01c48784$ce653ab0$6601a8c0@bosshog>

Joe Clark wrote:
> 
> Gee, aren't we *supposed* to be creating pretty pictures for
> all them LD
> folks?
> 
> Why, I ask for I'm sure the very first time, do so many Working Group
> members hate the Web?


Oh for God's Sake, give me a break!  Typical Joe Clark response - toss
out an inflammatory comment without really contributing to the general
"learning" of this list.



Much debate has come forth on this topic, and clearly there are two
camps.  However, I will continue to maintain the following:

If you as a developer are MANDATED to adhere to WCAG 1.0 for policy or
legal obligations, then:

	a)  Priority 2 3.2:  Create documents that validate to published
formal grammars. 
[I have yet to see a published formal grammar for PDFs... If it exists,
could someone please enlighten me?]

	b) Priority 2 11.1: Use W3C technologies when they are available
and appropriate for a task and use the latest versions when supported. 
[PDF is not a recognized W3C technology]


Further, Thursday I issued a challenge, which as yet has not been
successfully taken up:

> ...However, I challenge anyone (Joe,
> Jesper, anybody else) to disprove the following:
> 
> Providing content exclusively in PDF means "one or more
> groups will find it impossible to access information in the document."

http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-ig/2004JulSep/0312.html

(oh, and Joe, I define "group" as "A number of individuals or things
considered together because of similarities" (www.dictionary.com)


Joe can whine on all he wants about how the WAI working group is wrong,
he is right and time is marching on.  He does a dis-service to the hard
work and difficult task faced by the Working Group by sitting on the
side lines and lobbing in useless, inflammatory word bombs.  Developers
are free to listen to the collective advise and guidance of this group
of individuals (from the public sector, academic community, and business
sectors), or a blow-hard from Toronto who believes he has "The
Answers(tm)".

Joe Clark wrote:
> ...the fact that
> John resorts to such a blandishment suggests he falls squarely into
> the category I complain about all the time-- accessibility advocates
> who are actively hostile to visual design. Let me just mention again
> that (a) that horse won't hunt, (b) WCAG WG has to work at designers'
> level if it expects them to work at its level, and (c) many people
> with disabilities have fully- or mostly-functional vision and not
> only benefit from but *expect* good visual design.

I thought this thread was talking about accessibility, PDFs, and WCAG...
Typical Joe Clark switch and bait...

Anyway Joe, I am not a designer, I am a developer.  I like, appreciate,
and aspire to clean effective design, but not at the expense of some
users.  Your "design/display first"-centric arguments only serve to
further illustrate to me that you often forget that not everyone sees
the web the way you do, sitting in your ivory tower in Toronto.

For the record:
	1) I like good looking web sites - I like pretty pictures!  I
believe that good visual design and layout can enhance the end user's
experience and access to the site's content.  I do not however confuse
clear effective design with "art-for-art's-sake".

	2) I dislike sloppy or lazy development, where huge PDFs and/or
Flash files are offered to the end user with no alternatives in sight
(especially when that alternative *can* be made available within a
reasonable timeline and effort).  I have neither the time nor patience
for this, and am insulted when alleged accessibility advocates make
excuses for this type of behaviour under the banner "time marches on".

	3) I did not write the WCAG 1.0.  I do not always agree with
everything written in the WCAG 1.0.  I am dismayed and frustrated that
policy makers in my country (and others) have taken a set of guidelines
which were never written to be definitive or normative, and given them
the weight of law. It is bad policy, and unfair to the hard working and
concerned developers who *must* adhere to these policies, as they often
lack clear and measurable answers to their very legitimate questions.
To this group, I will continue to advise that given the (often)
ambiguity of the guidelines, I would suggest that they *not* use a
proprietary format as a primary delivery mechanism, as, by my reading,
it clearly violates Priority 2 guideline 11.1; and that further, when in
doubt, don't.  That may not seem fair, it may seem restrictive, but it
at least is safe... And when lawsuits and potential court challenges are
real consequences isn't "safe" a good choice?  

	4) I do not hate the web.  I love the web.
	


This (and related) thread(s) has also produced the following salient
points:

* The W3C's concern for web accessibility has also been the driver for
such things as SMIL (pity about that one), EARL, MathML, The Semantic
Web, and more. SVG (a W3C technology) appears that it will address many
of the reasons *why* developers would need to provide "content" in a
proprietary format such as PDF.  I look forward to time marching on in
this direction.  

* WCAG 2 (draft) has broadened it's scope to address accessibility
concerns in newer, emerging technologies, as well as proprietary
technologies which have emerged and become entrenched in "the real
world". This is a good thing. 

* Software manufacturers such as Adobe and macromedia acknowledge that
accessible web content *is* important, and have taken great measure and
strides in addressing these concerns.  Despite all this, HTML will
remain *the most accessible* means of delivering content. (Meanwhile, I
continue to wonder out loud why, if after doing all of the steps
required to ensure your PDF document is "accessible", such as proper
semantic mark-up and properly "tagged" images, etc., why not just output
it as HTML? Nobody has answered that one either...)  

* The concept of end-note, foot-notes and "explanotes" has piqued my
interest as well...


JF
--
John Foliot  foliot@wats.ca
Web Accessibility Specialist / Co-founder of WATS.ca
Web Accessibility Testing and Services
http://www.wats.ca   1.866.932.4878 (North America) 
Received on Saturday, 21 August 2004 13:43:18 UTC

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