Re: The difference between Standards and Government Documents

Hi Denis,

On Tue, June 7, 2011 8:19 am, Denis Boudreau wrote:
> I happen to be more optimistic than yourself and the people you're
> referring to regarding the standards, but then again, if of all people, I
> wasn't, then I wonder who would be...

Apologies but you lost me here. Could you please clarify which people I am
apparently not optimistic about ?

Catherine Roy

> On 2011-06-07, at 1:38 AM, catherine wrote:
>> Hi,
>> If I may add to Denis' comments with regards to the legal situation in
>> Québec and perhaps offer a different point of view (*disclaimer*: I was
>> part of the team that prepared the first version of the Québec Web
>> accessibility standard).
>> From a legal standpoint, before the Québec standard (SGQRI 008) came
>> along, there already was a legal obligation, and this concerns the
>> public
>> and private sector. First, Québec has a human rights charter[1] that
>> applies to all entities, including the private sector. So, any person
>> with
>> a disability could invoke article 10 of the provincial human rights
>> charter with regards to inaccessibility of public sector or commercial
>> web
>> sites whether we have a standard or not. Using the charter is not a
>> simple
>> process but people with disabilities have recently started using the
>> charter more with regards to information technologies used by commercial
>> entities (most notably concerning point of sales terminals) and I
>> believe
>> we can expect more instances where the charter will be used.
>> Also, in terms of legislation, Québec has a provincial law on disability
>> rights[2] that was updated in 2004 and that created an obligation, via
>> article 26.5, that the Québec government adopt a policy granting access
>> to
>> people with disabilities, in the spirit of reasonable accommodation, to
>> services and public information regardless of their format (so including
>> those offered online). This policy[3] was adopted in December 2006. Of
>> note, all other public policies dealing with information resources must
>> refer to this specific policy for accommodations to people with
>> disabilities.
>> The Québec standard Denis mentioned is a technical tool that specifies
>> technical obligations for Web content but the legal obligation was
>> already
>> there and for quite some time (albeit, it is easy to imagine the
>> standard
>> having a political impact but it is still much too early to discuss this
>> yet). In the absence of the standard, a person with disabilities using
>> the
>> legal tools at her disposal could have pointed to internationally
>> recognized guidelines (WCAG) and the provincial government would have
>> been
>> hard-pressed to argue, especially considering how the federal government
>> had traditionally chosen to deal with web accessibility of government
>> web
>> sites.
>> Besides precising technical obligations, the process of developing the
>> provincial standard, i.e. rewriting over the span of more than 4 years
>> technical guidelines that already existed, could have easily given the
>> government the false impression that it could stall. That no user with a
>> disability called them on it and did not pursue a case is just the
>> government's luck. The standard may also muddy the waters with regards
>> to
>> just how far an agency or ministery has to go since it excludes certain
>> types of information, applies different obligation deadlines for certain
>> types of content or platforms (example, intranets) and provides a big
>> out
>> (alternate version).
>> I would be remiss if I did not mention that some in the disability
>> community in Québec are not necessarily thrilled with this standard.
>> While
>> it is *technically* sound, some people and organisations (including
>> myself) are wary of its application objectives and disappointed with the
>> whole process that led to its development and adoption. However, we
>> recognise that the standard can be part of a toolkit of sorts that
>> enables
>> the disability community to ensure the government is respecting our
>> digital rights.
>> And, even though ministeries and agencies had a chance to be consulted
>> and
>> to negotiate the standard and therefore see it coming (which is more
>> than
>> the disability community can say since the standard was not the subject
>> of
>> any public consultations and was developed without the disability
>> community), there are, less than a month after its adoption, already
>> rumors of resistance within the government due to lack of funds to apply
>> it. But of course, that was to be expected.
>> Please note that all links direct to French resources.
>> Best regards,
>> Catherine
>> [1]
>> [2]
>> <>
>> [3]
>> <>
>> --
>> Catherine Roy
>> On Mon, June 6, 2011 5:01 pm, Denis Boudreau wrote:
>>> 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,
>>> /Denis

Received on Tuesday, 7 June 2011 14:09:21 UTC