Re: The difference between Standards and Government Documents

Good afternoon Wayne, all,

On 2011-06-06, at 3:19 PM, Wayne Dick wrote:

> This primarily to Denis, but the rest of the group might be interested.

I'll do my best to make it so then!

> As I read the document, I notice that the WAI is not concerned with
> laws, policies, regulations and guidelines developed by governments.
> These are necessary implementation templates for executing WCAG 2.0.
> The documents actually discourages developing local Standards.

This is my understanding also. While I totally understand why the W3C needs to do so, I do believe most governments will always have a tendency to do things their way. In my case here, simply saying "go with the W3C" was totally out of the question. Government officials I work for never even considered it, based on their understanding of the results from the Canadian government experience (more on that below).

As "damaging" as it may be for accessibility in certain cases, I truly believe it doesn't always have to be harmful. Hence my comments last friday.

> So, in Canada (Quebec) did you develop a National or Provincial
> Standards document, of did you formulate law, policy, regulations and
> guidelines?  If you did the latter, then you did exactly the right
> thing.  Canada may be held up as an exemplar of good practice.

Given the politics up here, I highly doubt we can be help up as an example of any kind. But let's not discuss canadian politics just yet. <smile>

It's kind of in between actually. I co-wrote the standards, but we also wrote different documents intended as guidelines to help web authors/developers get it right. I had (and still have) no bearings on the legal aspects of the whole thing, however.

> Could you clarify this.

Here's what happened and the context in which it did, in as few words as possible.

Canada has had it's accessibility standard since 2000: it's called CLF (Common Look and Feel), v2.0. It basically says: apply WCAG 1.0 level AA (with minor modifications). The Treasury Board currently works on an upgrade that brings CLF to WCAG 2.0 AA. They rely on techniques and failures as guides in order to understand how WCAG needs to be implemented. There are no laws, regulations or policies as far as I know. 10 years after having adopted WCAG however, the canadian government has better-than-average accessible websites, but none of them are actually compliant with WCAG 2.0 as most people have very different understanding of WCAG guidelines. This is a problem and this is what led the Quebec government to go down a different route.

Quebec adopted their standards on may 10th of this year. It is "only" a 50 pages or so 3-document standard (topics: html, downloadable documents and multimedia) that maps on to WCAG 2.0. Seeing how people's understanding of WCAG 2.0 was unequal from one developer to another, we decided to "break down" every SC we kept into so many different requirements that, once put together, say pretty much the same thing WCAG 2.0 AA does. That break down actually proves helpful (thus my example last friday with SC 1.3.1). Right now, the standards are a mandatory directive from the Quebec's treasury Board, but there's a law coming along (bill 133) that will most likely turn those standards into a legal obligation as well. The standards affect just about every organization from the public sector that's out there. We're talking hundreds of organizations (which is a huge deal, considering we're only 7,7 million people in Quebec). No private sector yet - we'll have to wait for that one.

So in a way, what we have in is very much like WCAG 2.0 AA (except for video content that only goes as high as A). If you follow those guidelines, you will automatically be compliant with WCAG 2.0 AA. But you don't necessarily have to dig really deep to understand how to do it. Which is why I am reluctant to agree on some of the wording in the document: somehow, this makes it more easy for people to get it right the first time - thus, I humbly believe that fragmentation is not always a disaster. Only time will tell if it actually works or not.

Best regards,


Received on Monday, 6 June 2011 21:02:22 UTC