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RE: WCAG 1.0 or 2.0?

From: John Foliot <jfoliot@stanford.edu>
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2006 09:56:54 -0700
To: "'Jon Ribbens'" <jon+w3c-wai-ig@unequivocal.co.uk>
Cc: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <005601c6f39f$979cc0a0$428e40ab@Piglet>

Jon Ribbens wrote:
> John Foliot <jfoliot@stanford.edu> wrote:
>> Slavish adherence to a guideline does not an accessible site make -
>> the easiest example to cite is the requirement for ALT text on
>> images: all too often we see sites that "pass" because the content
>> creator used "<img src="path to file" alt="graphic" />" - technically
>> a pass, but practically useless.
> While I agree with much of what you said, the above is incorrect. The
> guideline says "provide a text equivalent" - and in your example, the
> text is clearly not an equivalent, so it does not pass the
> checkpoint, even "technically".   

...and this is where the subjective nature of the standards/guidelines comes
to play - and BTW, exactly my point.  

It is your opinion that this is technically not acceptable, whereas I argue
it is.  Since we do not have any legal precedent to fall back on, it becomes
a question of "opinion" - yours vs. mine. (And interestingly, the current
Target.com legal challenge has two well-known web accessibility pioneers
pitched on either side of the table: Jim Thatcher for the NFB (et al), and
Chuck Letourneau [former co-chair of WAI when the original WCAG was written]
for Target [http://www.jimthatcher.com/law-target.htm])

Technically it is a text equivalent - whether it is useful or appropriate or
not is subjective, but it *is* a text equivalent.  It also would pass any of
the automated evaluation tools out there (Bobby, AccVerify, etc.).  It
*could* also be defended under Section 508, which simply states; "A text
equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided" - there is no
mention of appropriateness or even usefulness.  And while perhaps my choice
of word (graphic) may not best illustrate the point, the following certainly
would (I believe) stand up to a legal challenge: "<img src="path to file"
alt="a photograph" />":

Lawyer: "Mr. Smith, can you tell me what this is here in the top right
corner of your web page?"
Mr. Smith: "A photograph"  
Lawyer: "Can you be more descriptive?"
Mr. Smith: "Na, it's just a photo. It's nothing special."

Again, I am not arguing that this is right or acceptable, only that it meets
the "letter of the law". 

John Foliot 
Academic Technology Specialist 
Stanford Online Accessibility Program
Stanford University
560 Escondido Mall 
Meyer Library 181 
Stanford, CA 94305-3093 
Received on Thursday, 19 October 2006 16:57:24 UTC

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