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Re: [XAG] New draft Announcement

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>
Date: Wed, 18 Sep 2002 19:02:44 +1000
Message-ID: <15752.16692.867514.604356@jdc.local>
To: "Ian B. Jacobs" <ij@w3.org>
Cc: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>, WAI Cross-group list <wai-xtech@w3.org>

In general I agree with the substance and underlying intention of
Ian's comments. To be more precise, I think there are at least two
directions which this document could take:

1. It could be renamed "Principles of XML Accessibility" (or similar)
   and slated for publication as a W3C note. In this case, it would
   not be a W3C guidelines document, XML-based markup languages would
   not conform to it, but on the other hand the requirements would not
   need to meet the level of precision and testability expected of W3C
   specifications. This may, in fact, be better suited to the nature
   of the case, as there is such a great diversity of actual and
   potential XML-based languages that can be, and have been, designed,
   and any precise, testable set of requirements is likely to overlook
   possibilities which have not yet occurred to the authors of the
   document, and may, in some instances, even be historically without
   precedent. Thus it might be better to write a "Principles"
   document, akin to the Principles of Device Independence, than to
   write a set of guidelines. I am not here supporting, or opposing,
   this solution, but merely raising it as an issue that demands
   further examination.

2. If this document is to become a fully-fledged set of W3C
   guidelines, then I agree with Ian that the so-called checkpoints
   need to become much more precise - that is, they need to resemble
   WCAG 2.0 checkpoints to a far greater extent than they resemble
   WCAG 1.0 checkpoints. To these ends I agree with Ian's detailed
   suggestions. I also agree with Ian that they ought to be mapped to
   corresponding "content-level" requirements of WCAG 2.0: where there
   is a mismatch, either a correlative content requirement should be
   added to WCAG 2.0, or the requirement should be either removed from
   XAG, or treated merely as a note to implementors.

3. This document also needs to be regarded within the broader context
   of W3C architectural activities. To be more specific, consideration
   should be devoted to the prospect of developing a Consortium-wide
   set of principles, even guidelines, for the construction of
   web-based technologies, taken into account broad principles of
   sound design, as well as more particular questions of
   accessibility, internationalization, etc. I think the principles
   enunciated in XAG are likely to have greater impact if they are
   taken up as part of a more general framework.

4. The main strength that I perceive in the current document is its
   well chosen range of examples, combined with an explanation of why
   each of the illustrated choices in the design of a markup language
   has an impact, whether positive or negative, on accessibility. This
   kind of information is worth collecting, though it may better be
   presented as a tutorial or a set of principles than as guidelines.
   Here, more than ever, it is important to convey conceptual
   understanding to the designer, rather than to set forth a
   prescription. What must be borne in mind, I would argue, is that
   new markup languages are likely to be developed in response to
   unforeseen problems and circumstances, possibly even in domains of
   data representation that haven't been explored from the standpoint
   of accessibility, and this is the context in which the developer
   needs not a checklist, but a set of guiding ideas, examples and
   suggestions founded on the pertinent expertise of others. On the
   other hand, if a guidelines document is wanted, then it will have
   the disadvantage of demanding greater specificity and testability
   in the specification of its requirements, hence a reduced scope so
   far as applicability is concerned, as Ian indicated in his
   thoughtful contribution to the discussion.

5. I would welcome any move toward a W3C-wide set of principles, or
   even guidelines, for the design of interoperable,
   internationalized, flexible and accessible technologies, and would
   encourage moves toward harmonization of efforts in this area,
   aiming at the creation of either a single document or a series of 
   closely coordinated and integrated publications.

6. Before the present draft proceeds farther, it is time to make
   basic, strategic choices regarding its scope, content and ultimate
   status.
Received on Wednesday, 18 September 2002 05:02:59 GMT

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