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Re: the meaning of the term document in WCAG2

From: Anne Pemberton <apembert@erols.com>
Date: Sun, 20 May 2001 16:47:09 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: "gregory j. rosmaita" <oedipus@hicom.net>, <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Cc: <wai-xtech@w3.org>
Would it be too imprecise to use the term "page" instead of document? 

Seems to me that's a web-specific term already ... Is it a document if the
only contents of a link/page is a multi-media presentation and it's script?


At 09:38 PM 5/19/01 -0400, gregory j. rosmaita wrote:
>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
Anne Pemberton

Received on Sunday, 20 May 2001 16:38:18 UTC

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