Commenting on Joe Clark's "They Shoot Standardistas, Don't They?"

>From Joe Clark's personal [weblog] on 23rd December, 2007:

For a few elements and attributes, chiefly pertaining to tables, WHAT WG has
grandly allowed that it might change its mind if and only if presented with
overwhelming evidence .This is disingenuous, of course; they're wasting our
time and they'll plow right ahead and remove from the spec whatever they
never wanted there in the first place.

What Joe is saying is exactly how I felt when I first came across WHATWG's
work. It echos similar feedback from John [Foliot], Patrick [Lauke] and

I'm one of many people who has attempted to gather and organise the
"overwhelming evidence" Joe mentions. Joe's [previous] table collection for
PDF/UA was my starting point. I've seen Laura Carlson, Joshue O'Connor,
Steven Faulkner and several others provide work specifically to help
accessibility in HTML5. Squeezing this in amongst their work of getting the
web industry to take human rights relating to disability seriously is a big
ask. Indeed, my [data tables] work has twice been dormant for months at a
time due to professional commitments.

My motivation for this research was partly to call WHATWG's bluff. A sort of
"You want evidence? I'll give you evidence!" type situation. But what I
found "in the wild" [surprised] me. The positive and constructive responses
from WHATWG contributors surprised me. I started to think twice about

Having interacted with a few of the WHATWG contributors over some months, I
am convinced they are genuine. Their [approach] can seem quite alien to the
world of accessibility enthusiasts (such as myself) and accessibility
experts (such as the names I've mentioned) but it follows sound engineering
principles. They started with a clean slate and are gradually filling in the
gaps, accepting all the help they can get. If the community can't provide
the necessary research, they'll do it [themselves].

Ian Hickson arranged [sponsorship] for myself, Joshue O'Conner and James
Graham to attend the HTMLWG [meeting] in Boston this year. He lent me his
laptop to do a brief presentation about my data tables research. People were
noting things in IRC on my behalf. They helped me [pitch] for an
unconference session on data tables. I was queued in amongst people pitching
test suite organisation, spec status tracking and other engineering geekery.

My pitch was barely 30 seconds and only a few people voted for it. Yet it
carried. A time was picked where all the relevant people could make the
session. This included James Graham. He's a long-time WHATWG [contributor]
who made a [prototype] implementation of various table header association
algorithms. Including one which is partly my [brainchild].

The session was [drafted] into the schedule, which was then [wikified]. Many
people had helped. The meeting [took place] smoothly and collaboratively.
Nobody had tried to block it or sabotage it.

Later that day I ran into Henri Sivonen, creator of the HTML5 Conformance
[Checker]. He enquired about the proceedings of the data tables meeting. I
gave a quick summary and he casually agreed with it. He could have dismissed
the findings because he wasn't there. He could have poked holes in my
research. He could have ignored the whole thing.

Are Ian and Maciej personally, or WHATWG collectively, trying to snuff out
accessibility in HTML5 with disingenuous research requirements? If they are,
then consistently facilitating such research, [reviewing] it and comitting
to do it themselves if all else fails seems like an odd way to go about it. 

[weblog] <>
[Foliot] <>
[Lauke] <>
[previous] <>
[data tables] <>
[approach] <>
[sponsorship] <>
[meeting] <>
[pitch] <>
[prototype] <>
[took place] <>
[Checker] <>
[reviewing] <>

P.S. I might turn this into a blog message because hyperlinks and plain text
don't mix well.

Ben 'Cerbera' Millard
Collections of Interesting Data Tables

Received on Monday, 24 December 2007 15:28:29 UTC