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Clarification on Conformance Requirements for Alternative Content

From: WCAG 2.0 Comment Form <nobody@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 29 Jun 2007 04:58:59 +0000 (GMT)
To: public-comments-wcag20@w3.org
Message-Id: <20070629045859.7648D47BA3@mojo.w3.org>


Name: Sandra Vassallo
Email: S.Vassallo@e-bility.com
Affiliation: e-Bility Inclusive IT
Document: W2
Item Number: Conformance Requirements
Part of Item: 
Comment Type: general comment
Summary of Issue: Clarification on Conformance Requirements for Alternative Content
Comment (Including rationale for any proposed change):
The option to accept an alternative accessible page has merit but is also a significant weakness and I am nervous that this may be used by some websites as a way to legitimately avoid any efforts involved in making the primary content accessible. The legacy of \"text only\" links as the accessibility solution to HTML 3.2 is only just being redressed and WCAG 2.0 seems to open the possibility for this to start all over again with a proliferation of \"alternate\" pages. This approach treats people with disability as a separate audience, rather than acknowledging them as part of the diversity in every audience (i.e. children with disability, job seekers with disability, seniors with disability, employer with disability).

In its current form this requirement appears to make it acceptable for software developers to release and re-release versions of their product with no priority or time frame for including accessibility but to still be used on accessible websites and have the status of conforming to the level of the accessible alternate page.

In a commercial world there are many competing demands for time and resources with the result that accessibility is often seen as a lower priority. Once it is acceptable for developers to publish alternate content pages then championing mainstream accessibility becomes harder, especially when this approach is endorsed by an international body with the standing of the W3C. As such, I suspect accessibility considerations will have less chance of competing with other important business requirements. 

Similarly, once alternate pages are published there is little incentive in the Guidelines for developers to make the main pages accessible in the future and in practice (unless they are drawn from single sourced content) alternate pages are infrequently, if ever, updated. For example, there is no requirement (I could see) to make the main web page accessible if it becomes possible to do this with the software at a later date or for people to make it accessible if it is possible but harder to implement using the software accessibility properties. Currently \"If the Web page does not meet all of the success criteria for a specified level, then a mechanism to obtain an alternate version that meets all of the success criteria can be derived from the nonconforming content\" is acceptable.

Getting to the accessible content in an accessible way from an inaccessible page is also an unresolved issue at present (as documented in the WCAG 2.0 Editorial Note) and I\'m wondering why the focus is not on universal design with progressive enhancement for inaccessible formats, starting with the accessible document as the main/default page.

Note: I have not had time to fully explore all the WCAG 2.0 documentation in the time available for comments, so please let me know if this concern is already addressed. However, from my reading so far it seems to be rather a big issue that is not yet satisfactorily resolved – in that websites can claim conformance in principle while not conforming in spirit to the Guidelines.



Proposed Change:
This needs more thought than I\'ve had time to give it at present, but possible changes might include:

* a statement to the effect that if it is possible for the main content to be made accessible then an alternate page is not acceptable

* making the most accessible page the main/default page with links to or progressive enhancement of inaccessible content
Received on Friday, 29 June 2007 04:59:07 UTC

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