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Comments on current working draft

From: Jason Craft <jcraft@mail.utexas.edu>
Date: Mon, 30 Aug 2004 15:48:41 -0500
Message-Id: <FA16DAEC-FAC5-11D8-8B71-0003936D6612@mail.utexas.edu>
To: public-comments-wcag20@w3.org

Thanks for inviting public response to WCAG 2.0.  A few comments on the 
current working draft:

Guideline 2.4, Success Criteria Level 3, Item 1: As with guideline 2.2, 
one can easily conceive of content where an indeterminate or multipath 
logical sequence is part of the design.  In a case like this, 
presenting one logical sequence, while possible, may run counter to the 
spirit of the document.

Guideline 3.1, Success Criteria Level 2, Item 1:  "Idiom" here should 
be better explained or replaced with a different term.  So much 
language is "idiomatic" in that it is shaped by audience, intent, and 
situation and consequently peppered with specific usage.  Situated 
discourses (the shared language of doctors, the shared language of 
people who live in a given city, the shared language of science-fiction 
fans) are often highly idiomatic, and few have dictionaries that can be 
programmatically accessed.  The risk is that context-specific language 
on the Web (and I would argue that most language on the Web is, to some 
extent, context-specific) cannot comply at this level.  However, I 
think this risk merely stems from the ambiguity of "idiom" as a term 
here, and a clarification will hopefully resolve this issue.

Guideline 3.1, Success Criteria for Level 3: The level 3 success 
criteria, like the WCAG 1.0 recommendations on clear language, reflect, 
at some points, a view that language (or at least English) can be 
isolated from its context and evaluated as "clear" according to a 
universal set of criteria.  While there is a framework for "clear 
communication" implied here that can work in many English-speaking 
environments, this approach seems inadequate to address the wide 
diversity of language-use on the Web, much of which (including, but not 
limited to, creative writing, literature, and much critical analysis) 
de-emphasizes "plainness" and the unambiguous communication of ideas in 
favor of rhetorical style, figurative constructions, and the 
communication of individual perspective.

I think it is a good policy to direct content producers to style guides 
and other appropriate references that apply to their local contexts, 
rather than presenting any specific global rules here on style and 
language use.  At present, the guideline refers the developer to style 
guides at some points, but then presents its own directives on syntax 
and sentence construction at others.  I think this does little more 
than present opportunities for a local style guide and the WCAG "style 
guide" to be in conflict.  It seems more appropriate to apply a policy 
of referral to local style guides throughout all the criteria here, or 
at least formalize a "cascade" so that conflicts do not impede 
conformance when they do occur.

Gateway Document: I'm curious what the ongoing document status of the 
Gateway will be, whether it will grow and change after the guidelines 
are finalized.  It seems to have some potential as an evolving document 
that can adapt to emerging technologies and issues.


Jason Craft
Ph.D. Candidate, Dept. of English
Researcher, Digital Media Collaboratory, IC2 Institute
University of Texas at Austin
Received on Monday, 30 August 2004 20:50:37 UTC

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