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Re: Some comments on conformance levels in UA guidelines draft

From: Ian Jacobs <ij@w3.org>
Date: Sat, 04 Dec 1999 12:26:55 -0500
Message-ID: <38494EDF.50AB6705@w3.org>
To: peter.b.l.meijer@philips.com
CC: w3c-wai-ua@w3.org, schwer@us.ibm.com
peter.b.l.meijer@philips.com wrote:

> It would be rather worrisome if the UA guidelines would
> implicitly favour "self-contained" accessibility packages 
> by specifying compliance ratings that cannot be properly
> applied to combinations of screen readers with generic 
> applications (such as mainstream browsers used by the 
> sighted), while the current trend seems to be rather that
> blind people increasingly prefer using just that.

Peter, 

Thank you for comments about this topic. Conformance 
has been one of the most difficult topics this Working Group
has had to address. For a summary of some of the approaches
we've taken and some background that has led to the current 
scheme, please refer to [1].

The Working Group has chosen not to include a conformance
provision in this version of the UA Guidelines that addresses
software used in combination. Some of the limitations of such
an approach include:

1) Combinatorial nightmare. Your emphasis is on screen readers, but
   we would have to address functional requirements of other
   software combinations than desktop browsers used with 
   screen readers.

2) Conformance dependencies. Vendors should be able to claim
   conformance alone, and not rely on the existence of other software
   for their claims.

I agree that a list of guidelines for screenreaders would be very
useful,
and some information about functionalities that should be offered
by assistive technologies appears in our Techniques Document [2].

[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-ua/1999JulSep/0433.html
[2] http://www.w3.org/WAI/UA/WD-WAI-USERAGENT-TECHS-19991121/#dependent
 
> This is, again, why I think a compliance rating based on
> the current UA guidelines is not in order. Unintentionally,
> it could appear biased and selective w.r.t. accessibility
> practices and efforts, by providing a compliance rating
> only for products that include accessibility provisions
> "natively".

The following are just some of the checkpoints in the
last call draft [3] that refer to standard interfaces and 
communication of information through these interfaces: 1.1,
1.5, all of Guideline 5, 9.1.

[3] http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/WD-WAI-USERAGENT-19991105 
 
> The UA guidelines are at their current stage excellent as
> an informal checklist, which is highly useful and a major
> achievement, but I suggest that the UA guidelines are not
> ready for labelling products through a compliance rating.

This will be addressed by the Working Group as issue 153.
http://cmos-eng.rehab.uiuc.edu/ua-issues/issues-linear.html#153

Thank you,

 - Ian


-- 
Ian Jacobs (jacobs@w3.org)   http://www.w3.org/People/Jacobs
Tel/Fax:                     +1 212 684-1814
Cell:                        +1 917 450-8783
Received on Saturday, 4 December 1999 12:27:01 UTC

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