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Re: Notice of impending Formal Objection to Issue 30 Decision (@longdesc)

From: Laura Carlson <laura.lee.carlson@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 12 Aug 2010 07:18:04 -0500
Message-ID: <AANLkTikMyFGhpuebV5sMqjCudzFpbq31OqEceYB7uUpo@mail.gmail.com>
To: Aurelien Levy <aurelien.levy@free.fr>, John Foliot <jfoliot@stanford.edu>, Janina Sajka <janina@rednote.net>
Cc: HTML Accessibility Task Force <public-html-a11y@w3.org>, "Michael(tm) Smith" <mike@w3.org>, Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>, Paul Cotton <Paul.Cotton@microsoft.com>, Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>, Michael Cooper <cooper@w3.org>
Hi Aurelien,

> For the "External reference" point I can at least provide one example of
> accessibility government guidelines based on WCAG 2.0 and requiring longdesc

On the survey [1] I did state to no avail that:

"Longdesc is a technique recommended in both the WAI guidelines [2]
and the Section 508 standards [3]. Standards issued by the Access
Board under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act cover access to
electronic and information technology procured by United States
Federal agencies. One example: longdesc is an official part of United
States Postal Service policy [4] It has also trickled down to States
and State agencies. For instance, longdesc is a recommended solution
in many University Web Standards like the University of Minnesota. [5]
Longdesc is part of Dutch Accessibility Law (section R-pd.7.3) [6]
Translation: "Do not use d-links on government websites. The use of
longdesc (long description) attribute is preferred if the alternative
text in the alt attribute is inadequate for understanding the
information in the image."

The Chairs' Decision [7] stated "External references (standards, laws,
etc) was also found to be a weak argument for inclusion...It was noted
that longdesc appears in WAI Guidelines, Section 508 Standards, and
Dutch Law. An anecdotal first person statement was made by an educator
that "I teach web development, and I always teach longdesc". These are
valid, point in time, arguments for considering adding/reinstating
longdesc. However they are only point in time arguments: after all,
guidelines, standards, law, and curriculum can and do evolve."

Criteria for what comprises a "weak argument" has no definition in
HTML working group decision policy. [8]

We could and probably should file a decision policy bug on that but I
suspect it would be marked WONTFIX. Others bugs of that sort have been

In particular I suspect in the longdesc issue (as it will be in the
alt issue and some other accessibility issues) was influenced by a
chair prior attitude/judgment. I filed a  bug last month on the
decision policy regarding Chair recusal. It was marked WONTFIX.
<othermaciej> "add longdesc... for the children! the poor disabled children!"

Another bug on the policy regarding consistency was marked WONTFIX.

The last available recourse for this particular issue at this point
would be to accept the decision; supply new information to the chairs
or escalate to a Formal Objection [9].

The Chairs' decision directly countermands a task force recommendation:

"RESOLUTION: While the HTML-A11Y Task Force prefers the proposal that
restores longdesc without warning we are prepared to accept the
alternative proposal...to produce a warning (assuming we can agree to
warning text)..." [10]

Nowhere did the task force resolve to drop longdesc from HTML5.

The task force should make a decision on how to the situation where
the HTMLWG Chairs' disregard this task force's collective judgment and
resolutions, as I suspect it may not be the last case.

Best Regards,

[1] http://www.w3.org/2002/09/wbs/40318/issue-30-objection-poll/results#xkeepnew
[2] http://www.w3.org/TR/2008/WD-WCAG20-TECHS-20080430/H45.html
[3] http://www.section508.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=content&ID=12#Web
[4] http://www.usps.com/cpim/ftp/hand/as508a/508a_c6.html#508hdr13
[5] http://cap.umn.edu/ait/web/TablesAndCharts.html
[6] http://www.webrichtlijnen.nl/besluit/tekst-besluit-en-toelichting/
[7] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2010Aug/att-0112/issue-30-decision.html
[9] http://www.w3.org/2005/10/Process-20051014/policies#WGArchiveMinorityViews
[10] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html-a11y/2010Apr/0180.html

On 8/12/10, Aurelien Levy <aurelien.levy@free.fr> wrote:
> I totaly agree with John and his will to create a formal objection.
> For the "External reference" point I can at least provide one example of
> accessibility government guidelines based on WCAG 2.0 and requiring longdesc
> attribut for complete description of complex images.
> It's the test : "4.9. [Images] 9 : Présence de l'attribut longdesc pour
> établir une relation entre une image et sa description longue" on page 47 of
> 203 of the RGAA
> http://www.references.modernisation.gouv.fr/sites/default/files/RGAA-v2.2_Annexe2-Tests.pdfand
> I'm pretty sure we can found almost the same thing in other documents
> like SGQRI, Anysurfer, Accessiweb, UWEM, etc
> Aurélien Levy
> 2010/8/11 John Foliot <jfoliot@stanford.edu>
>> Please be advised that I intend to work with a group of others to create a
>> Formal Objection to this decision. In particular, I am appalled by the
>> comments:
>> "External references (standards, laws, etc) was also found to be a weak
>> argument for inclusion." [1]
>> ...and
>> "The strongest argument against inclusion was the lack of use cases that
>> clearly and directly support this specific feature of the language." [2]
>> [1] Failing to continue to support @longdesc directly contravenes WCAG 2
>> and the Techniques for Success Criteria - existing published Standards for
>> the creation of accessible web content. Large entities and governments
>> link to and/or directly reference this W3C Standard for authoring
>> guidance, and removing a currently supported attribute for nothing more
>> than political expediency in HTML5 is a bad decision: the net effect is
>> those entities that *MUST* abide by WCAG 2 will be shut out from
>> officially using "HTML 5 - the Markup Language". Ignoring regional laws
>> and requirements is not something that the W3C should be trifling with.
>> [2] The use case has been clearly explained and previously documented, and
>> in at least one instance demonstrated in the wild.
>> A) Great fanfare has gone into stating how "backwards compatible" HTML5
>> will be, yet here, when it comes to accessibility support it seems to be
>> less of a desired goal. This is an unacceptable double standard.
>> B) @longdesc will continue to be part of HTML 4, and user-agents that
>> purport to support HTML 4 will continue to need to support @longdesc. The
>> net cost to continued support at the engineering (user-agent) level is
>> $0.00 - the removal of this important attribute is nothing more than
>> political gerrymandering.
>> The most damning comment in the Chairs response however is reserved for
>> this line: "... if longdesc is conforming, user agents will be required to
>> support it;" - does this then suggest that once HTML 5 becomes an Official
>> Standard minus @longdesc that user agents will no longer be required to
>> support @longdesc? Who, outside of the browser manufacturers benefits from
>> this exactly?
>> (signed an extremely frustrated and angry)
>> JF

Laura L. Carlson
Received on Thursday, 12 August 2010 12:18:35 UTC

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