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RE: Advice on AA conformation

From: Karl Groves <karl.groves@ssbbartgroup.com>
Date: Fri, 6 Nov 2009 09:17:10 -0800 (PST)
To: "'Andy Laws'" <adlaws@gmail.com>, "'WAI Interest Group list'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <00c101ca5f04$a4e6d6a0$eeb483e0$@groves@ssbbartgroup.com>


What you're asking is really more of a legal question than an
accessibility one, but I'd like to answer anyway, based on my experience
with Section 508 in the US.   The UK and US legal system are similar
enough that my response may at least help frame some strategy moving
forward, but keep in mind I'm neither a lawyer in the US or UK.


The situation you've presented, where you have 2 different sets of
results, is a common problem with accessibility auditing/ consulting work.
Often, an auditor will pull out a copy of their desired industry standard,
go down the list, and for each provision (or guideline, whichever term you
prefer) ask themselves "Do we meet this?", jot down some notes and move on
to the next provision.   Doing audits in this manner is inefficient, often
inaccurate, and most definitely neither repeatable or actionable.   Two
different people auditing the same system in this manner will very often
get different results.  Further, the same person, doing a regression audit
will often get different results as well.  What is needed, therefore, is a
more well defined and mature auditing methodology.  The benefits to such
an approach goes beyond efficiency and quality of the audits produced and
has huge legal implications, as I'll discuss later.


A mature auditing methodology should be based upon the use of Best
Practices.   For each provision of each industry standard you want to
comply with, you should go through and detail the exact conformance
criteria necessary for meeting that individual provision.    For each Best
Practice in your list, you should provide detailed test instructions
defining exactly how it is determined whether you have or have not met
that Best Practice's criteria.   What this does, from a testing
perspective, is gives you a clear and concrete set of criteria against
which all of your systems will be tested now and in the future.  In doing
so, you're able to "zero out" any difference between one person's
understanding of conformance vs. their peers', and you've also defined
your acceptance criteria for future regression audits.  Lastly, you've now
given your developers/ vendors the criteria against which their work will
be measured in the future.  Over time, the net effect is not only much
greater accuracy and repeatability of results, a much higher degree of
accessibility of your systems.



As I mentioned, I'm not a lawyer, but this is what my experience tells me
on the legal front:

>From a legal standpoint you're also going to be putting yourself into a
position of defensibility, should complaints arise.  By creating a
detailed set of conformance criteria (the Best Practices), you've
documented your company's commitment to compliance and your approach
toward measuring it.  By evaluating against that well-defined set of
conformance criteria, you've documented the fact that you have - or are
putting into place - a mature program of ensuring compliance.  By exposing
the developers to the Best Practices, you're putting into motion actual
effort toward becoming more compliant.  All of this put together
establishes defensibility in the courts.    Nothing will ever stop a
complainant from coming along and saying  "Andrew Laws website is
inaccessible", but if your company puts into place a mature,
well-documented program for compliance, you will definitely become both
more accessible (the goal, of course) and reduce your exposure to risk.


Hope that helps, and best of luck to you.




Karl Groves
Director of Strategic Planning and Product Development

703.637.8961 (o) 
443.889.8763 (c)



From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org] On
Behalf Of Andy Laws
Sent: Friday, November 06, 2009 11:44 AM
To: WAI Interest Group list
Subject: Advice on AA conformation


Dear All



We have come across a scenario lately, where 2 different accessibility
audits have produced different results, As a company we are legally
obliged to provide AA compliant web aplications, however this is very
subjective, how as a company do we protect ourselves legally ie if we have
met all checkpoint guide lines, is this sufficient 



Many Regards



Andrew Laws Bsc(Hons) MBCS, FBCS
e-mail: adlaws@gmail.com
Telephone:: +44 (0) 7828822987
Received on Friday, 6 November 2009 17:18:44 UTC

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