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RE: Adopting the media accessibility requirements

From: John Foliot <jfoliot@stanford.edu>
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 2010 17:15:50 -0700 (PDT)
To: "'Aryeh Gregor'" <Simetrical+w3c@gmail.com>, 'Philip Jägenstedt' <philipj@opera.com>
Cc: <public-html@w3.org>, "'HTML Accessibility Task Force'" <public-html-a11y@w3.org>
Message-ID: <015701cb76fe$71488560$53d99020$@edu>
Aryeh Gregor wrote:
> On Thu, Oct 28, 2010 at 10:03 AM, Philip Jägenstedt <philipj@opera.com>
> wrote:
> > Since the two groups involved here (browser implementors and
> > accessibility experts) have obvious issues communicating with each
> other, it
> > would be helpful if we were all involved in the discussions as they
> happen,
> > rather than communicating via requirements lists.
> I agree with this general point.  It seems like right now, task forces
> are formed, discuss things amongst themselves at length, and only at
> the very end present their findings to implementers and spec editors.

Aryeh, you are more than welcome (nay, encouraged) to participate in the 
Accessibility Task Force, and specifically on this topic of media user 
requirements.  As the co-chair of the media sub-team I have consistently and 
regularly asked for feedback from the larger group about this document, with 
very few people actually bothering to respond.

See for example:

"...huge need to get this done for yesterday -- media subteam committed to 
knuckle down, but need specific feedback from non-subteam members
... even if only have 15 minutes, please consult 
http://www.w3.org/WAI/PF/HTML/wiki/Media_Accessibility_Checklist and tag 
with a11y requirements; goal is to complete over weekend so can discuss at 
TF telecon next week"

"ms: we need implementers to give tech assessment of impact
jf: this has been a largely discussed topic for weeks,"

"JF: Media Sub-Team update: making good progress turning requirements into 
technical requirements
... worked through 50% of requirements
... encourage people outside of subteam to weigh in and offer feedback and 
comments as things progress
... need to have technical requirements and user requirements stable enough 
to advance to the HTML WG next week -- perhaps 10 days left before moving 
reqs higher up the HTML5 food chain"


Further, the User Requirements document in question has been published and 
available for review and comment since late August, and was specifically 
announced *nine weeks ago* today as needing/wanting more feedback from the 
larger community:

"We are to the point where we need to begin engaging the wider HTML 5
community in understanding the ramifications of these requirements, and
in collaborating on appropriate solutions. Thus, we invite you to become
familiar with the requirements, ask questions, offer suggestions, and
generally engage with us on next steps." (Thu, 26 Aug 2010)


There are 51 registered members of the Accessibility Task Force, including 
Ian Hickson and Philip Jägenstedt 
(http://www.w3.org/WAI/PF/html-task-force#participants) who receive the 
public-a11y mailing list, which includes these weekly minutes, the minutes 
from the media sub-teams weekly (open) conference calls, as well as all 
correspondence to the list (and while not 100%, many of the emails that deal 
with media issues have been prefixed in the subject line with [media]).

Finally, Janina's note of Aug. 26th was sent to the larger HTML WG public 
list (443 group participants), of which Ian, Philip and you are also 
recipients, so you cannot say that we have not solicited feedback before 
this - you may not have read it or acted upon it, but no-one but you can 
control that, and the Accessibility Task Force cannot be blamed for that. If 
you or others have further suggestion on how to ensure that this is an open 
dialog, please feel free to offer those suggestions, but to arrive at the 
end of the party complaining that it started without you is disingenuous at 
best, and simply unfair. The bulk of the discussion on how we arrived at 
these User Requirements happened over the summer months and occurred, for 
the most part, on the mailing list and via our weekly conference calls.

> The latter are then forced to either accept the findings on the basis
> of authority, or demand detailed explanation of the rationale for
> every finding before they accept it.  The latter is usually what
> happens in practice except for very minor or obvious changes, and in
> that case, it would make much more sense if the implementers/spec
> editors were involved in the discussions from the beginning.

The editor is free and welcome to join us in any way he chooses: he has 
chosen to not do so - period.

Implementers from the major browsers (with the exception of Opera) have been 
weekly participants on the media sub-team conference calls, and Silvia 
Pfeiffer (representing Mozilla), Eric Carlson (representing WebKit) and Sean 
Hayes (representing Microsoft) all contributed to the authoring and editing 
of the User Requirements document; in fact, Eric Carlson and I actually met 
face-to-face twice, here in my office, while we worked on this document 
together (a pleasant and enlightening experience for both of us, I believe). 
Thus to suggest that the implementers were not consulted or involved is 
simply false.

Would I like to see Opera and Chrome participants more active in our work? 
Yes - but I do not have the power to insist that they do so; it's completely 
their choice. However to actively not involve oneself in the process, and 
then complain that you've not been involved in the process is a hyperbolic 
argument that has little traction or grounds for sympathy.

> Or
> alternatively, that task force findings be written in a persuasive
> rather than authoritative manner, and present the evidence and
> reasoning for their decisions in a form that will convince people who
> aren't domain experts.
> In the end, the implementers are the ones who have to make the
> judgment on what features they'll implement.  When a proposed
> accessibility, internationalization, or other feature requires a
> tradeoff of some kind, it's impossible for them to make that tradeoff
> intelligently unless they're given the full background on why the
> feature is needed, as Henri says.

This is exactly why we spent so much time ensuring that the user 
requirements document was as complete and accurate as we could make it, with 
both a prose narrative on the issue, as well as specific bullet points 
outlining how these might likely manifest. It is also now serving as the 
foundation for the creation of the Media Accessibility Checklist 
(http://www.w3.org/WAI/PF/HTML/wiki/Media_Accessibility_Checklist) where we 
are taking these User Requirements and mapping them against WCAG, UAAG, as 
well as a subjective Must/Should/May evaluation, all in an effort to help 
implementers further address and understand the numerous issues that 
accessible media brings to the table. Everyone who has already been directly 
involved with this effort is aware of the enormity of the issues, and of the 
work effort that will be required to meet all of these User needs.

What is extremely important to understand however is that there can be no 
"trade-off" when it comes to accessibility; this is counter to a core W3C 
Mission Statement, and would likely also land us in significant legal 
quagmires. I think any and all of the legal teams associated with the 
browser implementers would have a very difficult time defending 
'accessibility' to some user-groups while deliberately not supporting 
others: I'm no lawyer but I welcome you to investigate that statement 
further if you doubt my 'basis of authority'.

> We aren't going to get anywhere if
> we have the stone wall of a task force separating experts on some
> particular matter from everyone else, with only limited communication
> over the wall.

Communication is a 2-way street: we've been 'actively broadcasting' but have 
you been actively listening? Feeding back? If there is an appearance of a 
stone wall to you, it is one of your own creation: we've in fact been trying 
to build a bridge, not a wall.

>  It would be to everyone's benefit if all concerned
> parties were involved from the start.  Hopefully that way implementers
> will learn more about accessibility, accessibility experts will learn
> more about implementation, and more workable proposals can be crafted
> from the get-go.

And with the *direct involvement* of implementers from most of the browser 
developers from the start, we believe we've come a long way towards meeting 
that goal. I think that it would be fair to say that Eric's, Silvia's and 
Sean's awareness and understanding of accessibility issues has been enhanced 
since we started this work, and I know *my* understanding of the technical 
requirements, issues and difficulties has increased significantly by working 
with these folks.

So I once again extend an invitation to you Aryeh to join us in the media 
sub-team's efforts: there is still lots to do, and any and all help is 
gratefully welcomed.


Received on Friday, 29 October 2010 00:16:56 UTC

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