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Accessibility Procedure Comment

From: Laura Carlson <laura.lee.carlson@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 28 Jul 2009 06:23:23 -0500
Message-ID: <1c8dbcaa0907280423mb5a6e91jae91439018ac4e7@mail.gmail.com>
To: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Cc: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>, W3C WAI-XTECH <wai-xtech@w3.org>, Richard Schwerdtfeger <schwer@us.ibm.com>, Steve Faulkner <sfaulkner@paciellogroup.com>, wai-liaison@w3.org
Hi Maciej,

Thank you for your comment [1].  You raise an important issue with the
Accessibility Procedure [2]; it is unclear in stating purpose. We will
be adding a section to it to explain that.

> I propose the full text of this proposal should be deleted and
> replaced with:
>
> "Decisions on accessibility issues should be made in the same way as
> any other issue before the HTML Working Group, in accordance with our
> Charter and Decision Policy".

The charter and the decision policy have been insufficient in reaching
mutually agreeable accessibility design decisions in the
specification. They do not detail a procedure of how the HTML WG will
fulfill the mandate to "cooperate with the Web Accessibility
Initiative to ensure that the deliverables will satisfy accessibility
requirements."  Our proposal aims to provide guidance and tools for
the HTML working group, a document that we can look to and say, "This
is how we are working with WAI". "This is how we are fulfilling the
Charter’s accessibility mandate to make deliverables accessible".

As Steve pointed out in his message to you [3], PFWG is directly
charged with increasing support and coordinating plans for
accessibility in W3C specifications [4]. And as William mentioned,
accessibility extends well beyond working groups. [5] Formal
Objections from advocacy groups could very much be the consequence, if
deliverables are not deemed to be accessible by the working group
charged with coordinating plans for accessibility in W3C
specifications.

Getting PF’s assurance that our solutions meet accessibility
requirements is the prudent and far sighted approach to take if the
HTML 5 is ever to become a W3C Recommendation.

> While it's W3C practice to consult with and
> consider the input of other Working Groups in related areas, it is
> also accepted standard practice that requests of other Working Groups
> may be declined. For example, I have seen the CSS WG and SVG WG
> decline each other's requests many times, in areas of their respective
> expertise. Thus, the proposed process is out of line with the norms
> and official Process of the W3C.

As Sam has said, "The W3C HTML WG has not been operating like any
other W3C working group ever." [6]

The proposed procedure is to ensure that accessibility related issues
are dealt with in an efficient and constructive manner utilizing the
relevant resources and expertise. The procedure would:

- Help *everyone* internal and external be aware of what we are doing.
- Standardize operations.
- Provide more clarity and consistency.
- Encourage stability and continuity in operations.
- Stabilize action despite top-level changes. (We have had four
different Chairs in two years).

But most of all, a procedure would help show that the HTML WG means to
be accountable to the Charter.

> Second, the request to give WAI/PFWG a veto power does not even come
> from WAI itself; instead it is made by an assortment of people, some
> of whom are not WAI members at all. If WAI really wants that kind of
> power over other W3C Working Groups, then I think it should officially
> make the request itself.

Again, as Steve said, this is PFWG's role. The point is to make
certain that HTML5 is accessible. WAI/PFWG can help us insure that it
is. If we don't get their approval now, formal objections will likely
be the result.

We can vote and have straw polls on each and every individual issue
but that won't resolve them if the outcome is not agreeable. And, I
think we can all agree that  the way we have been working  has not
been the most efficient way to go about things and has monopolized a
lot of time and resources with little satisfactory results.

> Third, I think the proposal is inappropriate because essentially
> demands that the HTML Working Group should genuflect and kiss the
> ring. I think respect and collegiality with other W3C Working Groups
> is appropriate, but obsequious subservience is not. The HTML WG has
> the authority to make decisions on the documents within its charter,
> and is not obliged to get the approval of external groups.

Your characterization is false. Again, it is the role of PFWG to
"assure the accessibility qualities of the technologies as specified
in W3C Specifications".

Yes, HTML WG has the authority to make decisions on the documents
within its charter but sometimes it is better to delegate it. Better
yet would be to work together to resolve any outstanding issues before
last call.

> Fourth, I think the proposal is in bad faith because its proponents
> have been unable to get their way on certain issues by arguing
> technical merits or by consensus building, so they want to change the
> rules so they can automatically win. I think trying to change the
> rules so you can get your way is inappropriate.

The procedure proposal was made in good faith to ensure that
accessibility related issues within HTML5 are dealt with in an
efficient and constructive manner utilizing the relevant resources and
expertise available. We are not trying to change the rules and have
proposed nothing to that effect. We have simply proposed a procedure
to make the rules clearer.

> Anyone can become a member of the HTML WG and be heard the same
> as anyone else. In fact, the signatories of this proposal are all HTML
> WG members and have been among the most vocal.

That is incorrect. Eight of the ten are members. Some have been vocal;
some have not. But that is beside the point. In short the point is to
be proactive and establish a procedure so that:

* Accessibility issues are dealt with in an efficient manner.
* HTML WG can document its accessibility efforts to fulfill the HTML5
Charter accessibility mandate.
* Deliverables are assured to be accessible by the PFWG, the W3C group
charged with increasing support and coordinating plans for
accessibility in W3C specifications.
* HTML 5 can become a W3C Recommendation without accessibility related
formal objections.

Best Regards,
Laura

[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2009Jul/0719.html
[2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2009Jul/0556.html
[3] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2009Jul/0754.html
[4] http://www.w3.org/WAI/PF/charter200612
[5] United Nations Article 9 - Accessibility:
http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=269
[6] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2009Jan/0688.html

-- 
Laura L. Carlson
Received on Tuesday, 28 July 2009 11:24:05 UTC

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