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

From: John M Slatin <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>
Date: Wed, 8 Jun 2005 11:18:58 -0500
Message-ID: <6EED8F7006A883459D4818686BCE3B3B012485ED@MAIL01.austin.utexas.edu>
To: "Mark D. Urban" <docurban@nc.rr.com>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

Mark Urban wrote:

<blockquote>

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.  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.  Such a Standard would be
ideally submitted to ISO or ANSI/INCITS for fast-track 
</blockquote>

This is exactly what we're hoping to accomplish with WCAG 2.0.  In its
present form, WCAG 2.0 is organized around four principles of
accessibility (that content must be perceivable, that interface lements
in the content must be operable, that content and controls must be
understandable, and that content must be robust enough to work with
current and future technologies).  Under each principle are one or more
guidelines that apply the principle tin different contexts or different
aspects of Web content.  Under each guideline are (success criteria*.
The success criteria aim to describe functional outcomes and are written
as testable statements-- assertions that may be either true or false
with respect to particular content. 

Ideas that may be good practice but are not reliably testable do not
qualify as success criteria.

We expect to publish a new Working Draft at the end of this month. Your
comments will be very important in helping us ensure that our success
criteria are indeed measurable and testable so that WCAG 2.0 serves the
entire Web community.

John



"Good design is accessible design." 
John Slatin, Ph.D.
Director, Accessibility Institute
University of Texas at Austin
FAC 248C
1 University Station G9600
Austin, TX 78712
ph 512-495-4288, f 512-495-4524
email jslatin@mail.utexas.edu
web http://www.utexas.edu/research/accessibility/


 



-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org] On
Behalf Of Mark D. Urban
Sent: Wednesday, June 08, 2005 9:11 am
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Subject: Standards vs. Guidelines (was: RE: Clear communication: (was
RE: Re: Accessibility of "CHM" format resources)



Stu and Jon bring up an interesting point - that is, why do people keep
pointing at the various WAI Guidelines as Standards?

The answer, of course, is that industry and governments use Standards
all the time, as mechanisms to ensure normative activity.  Without
sounding like the esteemed Mr. Gilman (who is without a doubt one of the
most verbally precise people I've met, in addition to being a great
guy), what this means in real life is that governments and industry need
to have a measurable, testable way to ensure that accessibility exists
in a given web document, and to what extent. 

When people note that accessibility is a quality, not a quantity - and
therefore not measurable except to an individuals' unique needs - one of
two things happen:

1)  Eyes roll and people say "Of course - I understand now"  and then
they go and use the automated tool and accept whatever comes out as a
test and measure.

2)  People agree, and then in frustration a specific user community
(i.e. Blind folks with JAWS) is used as the metric for accessibility.

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.  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.  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.

Regards,
Mark D. Urban
HHS 508 Project Manager
New Editions, Inc
919-395-8513
murban@neweditions.net 
docurban@nc.rr.com 

-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org] On
Behalf Of Stuart Smith
Sent: Wednesday, June 08, 2005 4:31 AM
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Subject: RE: Clear communication: (was RE: Re: Accessibility of "CHM"
format
resources)


Jon

That isn't always the case. It's about how you fight the fight. If we
start off believing all is lost then we are!

This is more than contracts (as necessary as they are), if we don't
tackle this problem now it will become imbedded.

OK but for the bean counters out there. Let's put this problem in that
perspective.

If the current situation i.e. turning Guidelines into standards becomes
the norm and therefore all that organisations will do. At some point a
disabled user faced with a  "compliant" but un-usable web site will
launch the law suit. Then the house of cards will come tumbling down.
The wizards will soon loose those govt contracts because their magic no
longer works i.e. lost business, lost revenue.

So that's the marketing dealt with. But I still say the real tragedy
will be thousands locked out of the system and turned increasingly into
second class citizens.

Cheers

Stu
-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org] On
Behalf Of Jon Hanna
Sent: 08 June 2005 10:20
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Subject: Re: Clear communication: (was RE: Re: Accessibility of "CHM"
format
resources)


Stuart Smith wrote:
> ---Then in that case Jon isn't time we shrugged our image of being
wizards? I never liked it anyway :) I think the fight is worth having to
try to make sure the Guidelines don't become the be all and end all of
accessibilty. The people we are trying to help deserve better.
>

The "wizards" get the govt. contracts though.

--
Regards,
Jon Hanna

"It is the most shattering experience of a young man's life when he
awakes and quite reasonably says to himself, 'I will never play The
Dane.'"
Received on Wednesday, 8 June 2005 16:19:06 GMT

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