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RE: A Proposal To Not Establish "Minimal Requirements"

From: David Poehlman <David.Poehlman@usmint.treas.gov>
Date: Fri, 23 Jun 2000 09:14:10 -0400
Message-ID: <B1E68D292F3CD111A57C0000F67CB3CA01BE1592@wdcsrv03.usmint.treas.gov>
To: "'Eric Hansen'" <ehansen7@hotmail.com>, w3c-wai-ua@w3.org
Cc: ehansen@ets.org
Hi Eric and All,
I have a few comments marked with dp in your message below:

Version: 23 June 2000, 01:03 hrs
To: UA List (w3c-wai-ua@w3.org)
From: Eric Hansen
Re: A Proposal To Not Establish "Minimal Requirements"

I like the way the Ian has organized the document "Determining Conformance 
to the User Agent Guidelines" [1]. It helps show why further clarification 
of certain checkpoints may not be necessary and helps focus our attention on

a certain checkpoints for which further work may be needed.


I propose we do NOT establish "minimal requirements." This may seem like a 
radical proposal, but I will explain why I take this position. This memo 
provides a rationale for this proposal and suggests other ways to resolve 
the reviewer's concerns. The memo also provides examples of the proposed 
resolution; I would like to get feedback on this proposal before trying to 
"fix" more checkpoints.

Characteristics of a Good Checkpoint

I think that the checkpoints in the WAI guidelines documents should meet 
several characteristics. The first three points have been discussed before. 
I'd like to propose a fourth point.

1. Comprehensibility. The meaning of the checkpoint should be clear.
2. Feasibility. A checkpoint should be practical from a technical and 
practical standpoint.
3. Verifiability. One should be able to verify conformance.
4. Minimalism. The checkpoint itself should express the minimal requirement.
dp in your fourth item above, thia could make the checkpoint too long and to
further add to this, the reason over all for identifying minimal
requirements is to assist in determining what direction the guidelines
should take in that it is s self evaluation tool of which we actually need
more not less.

I think that these characteristics are related and somewhat dependent on 
each other. We might think of these four characteristics as different facets

of a unitary concept that we might call "validity" of the checkpoints. (A 
unitary concept of "validity" is also found in the area of educational 


If the working group succeeds in clearly expressing minimum requirements 
within the checkpoint itself, then there is no need for separate minimal 
requirements. A checkpoint that is already minimalistic is not susceptible 
to further reduction (unless justified by new information).
dp we are not reducing checkpoints.  We are expressing a minimum ground for
implementation of the checkpoints.  I agree though that in some cases, this
might be difficult to define but that should be expressed in the minimal
statement and that at times, the checkpoint is a minimum in and of its self.

Pitfalls of Establishing Separate Minimums

There would be several negative consequences to establishing minimal 
requirements that are separate from the checkpoint statements themselves.

1. Indication of Padding. To establish a minimal requirement that is 
separate from the checkpoint statement itself may be seen as an indication 
that we have "padded" the checkpoints, i.e., made requirements that go 
beyond what is justified by their actual impact on people with disabilities.
dp the intent to do just the opposite can be stated clearly at the front of
the minimum req document.

2. Confusion About the Number of  Priority Levels. To divide or parse a 
checkpoint (especially a Priority 1 checkpoint) into a "minimal" portion and

"beyond minimal" portion would, in effect, add a new level of priority, 
perhaps one that we might call Priority 0 (zero). By having separate minimal

requirements, we would be saying, in effect: "Even though we rate this 
checkpoint at Priority 1 (meaning that some disability group would find it 
"impossible" to access content if this were not followed), there is yet 
another level of priority -- Priority 0, for which failure to conform would 
make content "REALLY impossible" to access." The non-sensical nature of such

an implication would add confusion about the meaning of the priority levels.
dp Just the opposite.  The checkpoints stand alone.  developpers have asked
us for  adocument that clearly states how the checkpoints can be
implemented.  Nowhere in the minimum req document or in the language do we
suggest that this a new priority.  the document further expresses but
perhaps not clearly enough that the minimum req is over arching and not
necessarily all inclusive of meeting the checkpoint.  think of it as  a
guide to the techniques document if you wish. 

3. Indication of Failure to Make Checkpoints Comprehensible, Feasible, or 
Verifiable. I think that since the four facets of comprehensibility, 
feasibility, verifiability, and minimalism are related to each other, then 
failure to ensure that checkpoints statement themselves are minimalist may 
indicate that there are problems in the other characteristics as well.
dp This seems a valid statement on its face however, checkpoints should
describe a broad goal for achieving accessability and any enhancement or
explanation needed should be provided in appropriate ways.  The checkpoints
are and should be simple declarative directives which by their highly
complex implementive nature need as much support as they can get.  We are
after all mostly aiming at developpers and thos who manage development and
need to provide appropriate documentation to that end.  in another way with
the checkpoints being as simple and directive as possible, we can almost
turn them in to a feature list or set of feature lists for cunsumers to use
when shopping for a ua or for standards bodies to use <heaven forbit> when
writing standards for procurement guidance.
do we have any procurement specialists on our group?  should we scare up one
or two?

In summary, I think that, to the extent possible, we should make the minimal

requirements obvious in the checkpoints themselves, at least to the extend 
possible, given the necessity for comprehensibility, feasibility, and 


I think that the solution is to simply clarify the checkpoints themselves as

necessary but not go down the slippery slope of providing minimal 
requirements. If we want to add clarifications, advice, guidance, or other 
information beyond the checkpoint itself, that can be put in a note or in 
the techniques. In some cases, new checkpoints might need to be added. I 
think that the "expected solutions" need to be treated this way as well.
dp the slippery slope we were headed down was heretofore not having a
process in place for evaluating the checkpoints.  This process has led to
some positive changes and a better understanding of what the checkpoints
represent and how they apply.


Checkpoint 2.2:

<OLD, 10 June 2000 UAAG as cited in 20 June Determining Conformance 
"Checkpoint 2.2 For presentations that require user input within a specified

time interval, allow the user to configure the time interval (e.g., to 
extend it or to cause the user agent to pause the presentation automatically

and await user input before proceeding). Minimum: Pause.

Checkpoint 2.2 For presentations that require user input within a specified 
time interval, allow the user to configure to cause the user agent to pause 
the presentation automatically and await user input before proceeding.

[If the working group wishes have the user be able to "extend" the "time 
interval", then that should be expressed either in a technique, a note, or a

new lower-priority checkpoint.]
dp either way, the same intent is expressed and if a new proposal is made it
will be considered.  this is not a technique however, it is part of the

Checkpoint 4.16:

<OLD, 10 June 2000 UAAG as cited in 20 June Determining Conformance 
Checkpoint 4.16 Allow the user to configure the user agent to limit the 
number of open viewports. Minimum: One.

Checkpoint 4.16 Allow the user to configure the user agent to limit the 
number of open viewports to as few as one viewport.

[1] http://www.w3.org/WAI/UA/2000/05/ua-minreqs

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Received on Friday, 23 June 2000 09:11:30 UTC

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