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RE: PROPOSAL: Procedure to Promote Progress With Accessibility Issues in HTML5

From: John Foliot - WATS.ca <foliot@wats.ca>
Date: Sun, 19 Jul 2009 23:17:26 -0700
To: "'Ian Hickson'" <ian@hixie.ch>, "'Laura Carlson'" <laura.lee.carlson@gmail.com>
Cc: "'David Poehlman'" <david.poehlman@handsontechnologeyes.com>, "'Steven Faulkner'" <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>, "'HTML WG'" <public-html@w3.org>, "'W3C WAI-XTECH'" <wai-xtech@w3.org>, <wai-liaison@w3.org>, "'Janina Sajka'" <janina@rednote.net>
Message-ID: <00d201ca0901$c13fc680$43bf5380$@ca>
Ian Hickson wrote:
> 
> On Sun, 19 Jul 2009, Laura Carlson wrote:
> > >
> > > Could the WAI respond to my e-mails, such as these?...
> >
> > I am not a member of WAI. I can not speak for them.
> 
> Now I'm really confused. Is this proposal:
> 
>    http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2009Jul/0556.html
> 
> ...not from the WAI then? Who exactly should we be working with, if not
> the signatories of that e-mail?
> 

The easy answer of course is everyone.  

Many of the signatories of that note participate at various levels within
WAI, but WAI (Which stands for Web Accessibility Initiative) is not a thing
nor an entity - it is, as its name implies an initiative, and that
initiative is open to all.  Formally within WAI there is the Protocols and
Formats Working Group - of which some of the signatories are participants,
and you should certainly be working directly with them.  

However, that note comes from a larger group of concerned advocates who have
issue with much of the process that you employ, and collectively that group
of people are asking for a more formal recognition of both process and
policy within the HTML WG (which is or isn't the same as WHAT WG - who
should *we* be working with BTW?), as well as a recognition that whilst
Universal Design is the better way forward to ensure greater accessibility,
that sometimes accommodation must trump Universal Design - or put another
way, when Universal Design fails (or comes up short), and we have a means to
further the accommodation using specific tools, then those tools/methods
should be entrenched in the spec as well.

Despite recent overtures regarding canvas[*], many earlier and other open
accessibility issues remain frustrating: case in point - @summary.  While
this is supposedly an open issue with the HTML WG
[http://www.w3.org/html/wg/tracker/issues/32], I note that you have
unilaterally made modifications to the running spec that continues to
advocate your position, rather than the formally requested position of the
WAI PFWG. Why is this, and who decided this?  Discussion on your IRC channel
that suggests that summary would be a 'second class' attribute further
illustrates that you continue to bring your bias to the table despite formal
requests by other working groups to do otherwise.  Who within the WAI agrees
with this notion of @summary as a 'second class' attribute? Who within WAI
agrees that "Authors should not specify the summary attribute on table
elements."?

Thus the proposal seeks to address an identified problem: the charter
specifies that "The HTML Working Group will cooperate with the Web
Accessibility Initiative..." but does not specify how.  The proposal seeks
to fill that gap by formalizing the process.  Honestly, it seeks to impede
your ability to make unilateral decisions that run counter to the WAI's
general thinking by insisting that an actual process be followed beyond "Ian
read a bunch of emails and made a decision", which is what pretty much
appears to be happening most of the time.  The key phrase is: "... design
features known or foreseen to have an impact on accessibility will be
explored and discussed with the Protocols and Formats Working Group (PFWG)
[2] **prior** to decisions..." (emphasis mine), and not how it is happening
now (as witnessed by your recent changes to the @summary attribute).

As well, while I personally am *not* a member of the PFWG, I suspect that if
there is a time-sensitive issue that requires input from the PFWG, then
please be sure to advise of a requested due date so that your requests can
be addressed in a timely fashion.  However expecting a snap response to your
requests 'just because' is both unfair and unrealistic: many of the
contributors to both PFWG as well as the WAI larger body provide their time
and expertise in their free time - unlike you who is paid to do this work.

As a signatory to the proposal, it is my hope that the chairs will implement
the proposal as suggested, bringing a more formal and accountable process to
solving the many complex accessibility issues being discussed.

JF

[* While your recent reaching out to the accessibility community regarding
canvas is seen as a positive step, expecting a solution within weeks of that
request is a bit much... as Steve Faulkner's note today indicated, movement
is forthcoming, but unlike the palsy IRC channel that you favor, WAI's
process is slightly more formal and a Task Force is being struck that will
study the issue properly and report back in due time]
Received on Monday, 20 July 2009 06:20:24 UTC

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