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

From: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Date: Thu, 12 Aug 2010 15:00:37 -0700
Cc: Laura Carlson <laura.lee.carlson@gmail.com>, Aurelien Levy <aurelien.levy@free.fr>, John Foliot <jfoliot@stanford.edu>, Janina Sajka <janina@rednote.net>, HTML Accessibility Task Force <public-html-a11y@w3.org>, "Michael(tm) Smith" <mike@w3.org>, Paul Cotton <Paul.Cotton@microsoft.com>, Michael Cooper <cooper@w3.org>
Message-id: <4AF0B921-56C0-4DD9-B9DC-BC9BD7FE094B@apple.com>
To: Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>

I would like to emphasize and concur with some of the points Sam made here:

1) The Chairs make decisions based on the arguments actually presented. While we apply some judgment to determine what is a strong or weak objection, we base that on the contents of the Change Proposals and objections themselves. If someone makes an argument, do they provide supporting evidence? What is the quality of that evidence? Do others have counter-arguments? We specifically do *not* attempt to apply any considerations that were not raised in the Working Group. It is not our goal to investigate independently or apply our own preferences. Rather, we study the arguments presented by members of the WG, and based on that seek the proposal that draws the weakest objections.

2) I stand behind the decision as drafted, but I specifically stood aside from drafting the decision or having an excessive influence on its contents, since I wrote one of the Change Proposals under consideration. (Incidentally, my proposal was quickly identified as the WG's least preferred option and discarded, and I am ok with that.)

3) The most effective next steps were as identified by Sam: either present relevant new information that could lead to reopening the issue, or escalate to a Formal Objection. The Chairs will gladly work with anyone who wants to take either of these steps.


On Aug 12, 2010, at 10:10 AM, Sam Ruby wrote:

> On 08/12/2010 08:18 AM, Laura Carlson wrote:
>> 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]
>> http://dev.w3.org/html5/decision-policy/decision-policy.html
> The W3C process talks in terms of strong and weak, and in terms of objections.  Weak is meant to be taken as the opposite of strong, and argument for is meant to be taken as the opposite of objection against.
> The existence of these guidelines (standards, laws, etc). that you and others cited is a valid argument.  To my knowledge, no one is contesting that these guidelines exist.  Some have argued that these have had little impact.  None of the proposals or objections clearly established that these guidelines had an impact.
> Just so that it is absolutely clear: there is no assertion made that the guidelines did not have an impact.  The only assertion that is being made is that there was an issue, we called for proposals and received three, there was an extensive period of discussion, and a call for objections.  During the course of the above, it was brought to light that there are relevant guidelines, standards, laws, etc.; a question was raised as to whether such guidelines had an impact; and no clear and compelling response was produced during the course of the discuss
>> 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
>> rejected.
>> 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.
>> http://www.w3.org/Bugs/Public/show_bug.cgi?id=10084
>> <othermaciej>  "add longdesc... for the children! the poor disabled children!"
>> http://krijnhoetmer.nl/irc-logs/whatwg/20071224#l-16
> To clarify, and from the response:
> "In extreme cases, as when a Chair writes a Change Proposal or takes a strong position on an issue in the course of Chair-led discussion, it is likely that particular Chair will refrain from authoring the written decision, should one be necessary. We will discuss amongst ourselves and confer with members of the W3C Team on this as necessary. However, we do not think it is appropriate to formalize this in a written policy."
> So we can, and will recuse ourselves as necessary.  In this specific case, while Maciej did provide feedback (but not due to the 2007 IRC log you mentioned, but because he actually participated by producing one of the proposals, one that the TF supported).  I took the initial lead in evaluating this issue.  Maciej's feedback improved the quality of the response, but did not materially change the decision.
>> Another bug on the policy regarding consistency was marked WONTFIX.
>> http://www.w3.org/Bugs/Public/show_bug.cgi?id=9894#c3
> It is not clear how that is relevant here, but again:
> "The chairs discussed this issue. We believe that it is not the role of the chairs to enforce consistency as the highest value. Rather, it is our role to evaluate arguments made by members of the Working Group to determine which proposal draws the weakest objections. Thus, if particular Working Group members feel that consistency is important and believe that a given proposal would violate it, they should cite the consistency problem and explain their reasoning, either in another Change Proposal or in a straw poll objection."
> Again: consistency is clearly a good thing.  But the responsibility to produce a consistent document is on the members of the working group.
>> 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].
> Correct.
>> 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.
> Countermands is a strong word.  Prefers... not so strong.
> In any case, from the task force description:
> http://www.w3.org/WAI/PF/html-task-force
> "The Task Force does not, however, represent consensus of either of those Working Groups. All output of the Task Force should be considered as proposals, subject to vetting and modification by the WG receiving the proposal."
>> 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.
> In the short term, a better use of those energies would be towards identifying new information (I hear that there is some from Oracle?) or on a Formal Objection.
> If there is to be a Formal Objection, I am quite prepared to actively participate in the process.  My interest in this matter is not in any particular outcome.  My interest is in getting this matter behind us.
> In the long term, a better use of those energies would be directed towards producing more complete proposals.  Note that the following proposal makes no mention of standards, guidelines, etc:
> http://www.w3.org/html/wg/wiki/ChangeProposals/longdesc
>> Best Regards,
>> Laura
> - Sam Ruby
>> [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
>> [8]
>> http://dev.w3.org/html5/decision-policy/decision-policy.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
Received on Thursday, 12 August 2010 22:01:22 UTC

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