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the meaning of the term document in WCAG2

From: gregory j. rosmaita <oedipus@hicom.net>
Date: Sat, 19 May 2001 21:38:36 -0400
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Cc: <wai-xtech@w3.org>
NOTE: i have added wai-xtech to the thread -- this post is part of a thread
on the w3c-wai-gl list under the subject line:
   [resolved?] RE: natural language checkpoint for WCAG2 GL1
which is archived at (long URI warning):
and which comprises part of the skein which originates at:

aloha, y'all!

charles, i, too, share your concern about the use of the term "document" in
WCAG2, but i also share gregg's concerns about clarity and precision...
using a compound term in place of "document" weighs the checkpoint down,
whilst use of the term "application" in the XML sense would serve only to
confuse the broader, more general audience at which the top levels of WCAG2
are aimed...

when drafting the checkpoint, i considered using "document instance",
"document object", or "application", but i don't think that any of those
terms mean anything outside of geekdom...  moreover, use of a compound
english terms such as "document instance" or "document object" not only
leads to awkwardly constructed checkpoints, which are breeding grounds for
ambiguity, but may prove difficult, if not impossible, to translate with
precision, which is the lesson of the "transform gracefully" imbroglio...
since one of the goals of WCAG2 is to reach a broader audience, whilst
retaining precision, accuracy, and clarity, and since the glossary of WCAG
2.0 lacks a definition of the term "document", i propose the following:

1. that the term "document" be added to the WCAG2--and, by extension, the

2. that the definition of the term "document" explicitly state that, for the
purposes of this document, the term "document" encompasses "documents
rendered from a single source file" to "reusable fragments of marked-up
content, which, when rendered as part of a 'document instance', combine to
produce the end-user experience of interacting with a single document",
etc., only more clearly articulated and more precisely stated...

why the single word term "document"?  for starters, WCAG 2.0 _is_ a document
(at least in the common understanding of that term), even though, when
modularized, it consists of several components--individual XHTML files,
images, etc.--what constitutes a "document" is the user's experience of
rendered content, not the manner in which the individual pieces of content
are assembled into an ostensively cohesive whole...

ATAG 1.0 already contains the following definition of the term "document":

definition: "A 'document' is a series of elements that are defined by a
markup language (e.g., HTML 4 or an XML application)."
source: http://www.w3.org/TR/2000/REC-ATAG10-20000203/#def-document

while the unified glossary located at:
contains a compound definition derived from an pre-Last Call Cubed iteration
of UAAG 1.0 in which the term "document" is defined thus:

Documents, Elements, and Attributes [UAAG10]
A document may be seen as a hierarchy of elements. Element types are defined
by a language specification (e.g., HTML 4.0 or an XML application). Elements
may include content, which generally contributes to the document's content.
Elements may also have attributes that take values.

i should also note that what i am attempting to convey through the use of
the single word, "document", is, in essence, defined as the compound term
"document object" in the 11 April 2001 working group draft of UAAG 1.0,
located at:

Document Object, Document Object Model
In general usage, the term "document object" refers to the user agent's
representation of data (e.g., a document). This data generally comes from
the document source, but may also be generated (from style sheets, scripts,
transformations, etc.), produced as a result of preferences set within the
user agent, added as the result of a repair performed automatically by the
user agent, etc. Some data that is part of the document object is routinely
rendered (e.g., in HTML, what appears between the start and end tags of
elements and the values of attributes such as "alt", "title", and
"summary"). Other parts of the document object are generally processed by
the user agent without user awareness, such as DTD-defined names of element
types and attributes, and other attribute values such as "href", "id", etc.
These guidelines require that users have access to both types of data
through the user interface. Most of the requirements of this document apply
to the document object after its construction. However, a few checkpoints
(e.g., checkpoint 2.7 and checkpoint 2.10) may affect the construction of
the document object. [...] [second definition snipped]

so, the upshot of this post in regards adding checkpoint 1.x to WCAG2 is
that, while i still support adoption of my PROPOSED2 verbiage, i do so with
the caveat that we add a definition of the term "document" to the WCAG2
glossary which incorporates the concepts encapsulated in the ATAG and UAAG
definitions cited above...  i could live with the replacement of the term
"document" with the clunkier, geek-speak compound term "document object", as
it is currently defined in UAAG, but i think it behooves us to take
advantage of the opportunity to coalesce the divergent terms now in currency
into a simple, understandable single word term...

IGNORAMUS, n.  A person unacquainted with certain kinds of knowledge
familiar to yourself, and having certain other kinds that you know
nothing about.           -- Ambrose Bierce, _The Devil's Dictionary_
Gregory J. Rosmaita, oedipus@hicom.net
            Camera Obscura: http://www.hicom.net/~oedipus/index.html
Received on Saturday, 19 May 2001 21:37:25 GMT

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