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RE: Standards vs. Guidelines (was: RE: Clear communication: (was RE: Re: Accessibility of "CHM" format resources)

From: John Foliot - WATS.ca <foliot@wats.ca>
Date: Wed, 8 Jun 2005 12:14:52 -0400
To: "'Mark D. Urban'" <docurban@nc.rr.com>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <006201c56c45$34f87ad0$6401a8c0@bosshog>

Mark D Urban wrote: 
> So, the issue here for me (as both a regulator and an
> implementer) is that
> the WAI has consistently failed to write measurable, testable
> standards FOR THE WEB TECHNOLOGIES WITHIN THE W3C PURVIEW.  

How exactly will this relate to accessibility?  Accessibility is not a
technology.  One of the Guidelines is for valid code (which is argued from
both sides: important not important - and surprisingly both sides have
merit); yet hardly any pages I see meet this requirement.

> The
> guidelines are, by definition, a "best practice" for any document on
> the Web in 
> any form.  What
> is needed is a Standard for HTML, XHTML, etc. that is
> specific, testable,
> and measurable.

These standards do exist (the W3C calls the Recommendations, but...)  HTML
also has an ISO standard (ISO/IEC 15445:2000(E) -
https://www.cs.tcd.ie/15445/TC1.html).  Conformance to either does not
ensure accessible content... far from it.

> Such a Standard would be ideally submitted to ISO or
> ANSI/INCITS for fast-track incorporation.  Regulators and
> industry could
> then reference the Standard, making it easy to keep pace with
> changes in
> technology.
> 

Sorry Mark, but you can have a technically correct document (from a
technical perspective) that would still be woefully inaccessible.  You
already know that.  How do you test for something that requires cognitive
reasoning?  Manually using a best practices document.  Newspapers will
always require human editors, even though modern word processors have spell
checkers and even grammar checkers.  Why? (rhetorical)

Technically there is nothing wrong with: <img src="" alt="button">, but what
does it mean.  And if I told you to click on the red button on the right?
(where is "right", and what is "red" to various users?)  And if my entire
site was done in technically correct Flash...

Sorry, not as simple as you make it out to be.

JF
--
John Foliot  foliot@wats.ca
Web Accessibility Specialist / Co-founder of WATS.ca
Web Accessibility Testing and Services
http://www.wats.ca   
Phone: 1-613-482-7053
Received on Wednesday, 8 June 2005 16:15:18 GMT

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