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Checkpoint 3.3

From: Robert Neff <robneff@home.com>
Date: Sun, 11 Jul 1999 22:42:35 -0700
Message-ID: <001701becc29$58ae5ca0$64520518@alex1.va.home.com>
To: <w3c-wai-eo@w3.org>, "wai-gl" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Cc: "Work-Robert Neff" <Robert.Neff@usmint.treas.gov>
First, I would like to explain why there are suddenly several emails where I
disagree with some aspects of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
Basically, work had consumed my time so I could not review the last call for
revision.  Now that I am making time, in part, because I am conducting a
quality assurance review of our site at work to identify the deficiencies
and make a hit list of items to be repaired.  I am also reviewing this in
part to respond to the Justice Department's survey on Rehabilitation Act
Section 508.  My concern is these Guidelines are going to be adopted
verbatim by the United States Government without regard to content and what
it entails, implementation, training, and budgetary support.

Therefore, my suggestion would be:
1.  To come out with the next revision in the fall.  These guideline would
be more understanding and supportive of the web development community.  We
need their support - not make an enemy of them!
2.  Provide for a large scale meeting to discuss issues line by line.  Of
course, we would need to submit issues and distribute for review prior to
the event.  The purpose would be to come to terms on the language or show
3.  Discuss how people are going to be trained
4.  Discuss how trainers are going to be certified.

I do have two major problems with the Guidelines.
1.  I do not believe Guidelines is an appropriate description.  I would
suggest specification; however, I do not know what the W3C's charter will
permit it to do.
2.  I have a major problem where the Guidelines state that CSS must be used.
For example, "3.3 Use style sheets to control layout and presentation.
[Priority 2]".  First, the entire world will not be using CSS for many years
to come.  One cannot make the assumption that all offices will switch.
Unless you are in a controlled browser environment, web developers will not
switch, because there are simply too many problems with CSS browsers.
Second, there is simply too much HTML 3.2 and 4 code out there and companies
and government cannot afford the cost to switch.  Plus the skill sets are
much different as we have web developers that come from various backgrounds
(wrieters, graphics, HTML coders, programmers, system adminstrators).  This
is much different form the Client -Server world!

There was also a group who supported this position when the QuickTip card
was being drafted, see, "Page organization. Use headings, lists, and
consistent structure. Use CSS for layout and style where possible."   Some
people lobbied to ensure "Use CSS for layout and style where possible" was
added. People who think everyone must use CSS and support the Guidelines
position as such, must be living in an ivory tower.  The real world doesn't
think this way.  Life in the trenches is very much different.  Most office
web sites are just now getting budget support.  However, many office web
site are run by secretaries who have this as cross duty.

If we are going to say something like "Use CSS" then we need to say HTML 3.2
and 4 is still "OK" as long as you support the guidelines and do not use
deprecated tags AND you can only get Double-A if you use tables for
formating.  Or we can say CSS is strongly encourage, however, not required.

The way it stands now I would need to justify why i am not using CSS and
this is not made clear in the guidleines.  So managers are going to read
"3.3 Use style sheets to control layout and presentation" and say do it
without undersanding why.  As this is a Priority 2 item and the Federal
Governement is expected to adopt double-A conformance level, then web
developers have a lot of explaing to do and we have just put a rope on their
neck and kicked out the chair.

In conclusion, we must resolve these and other conflicts soon and offer
training, so we can prepare people to adopt the Guidelines! Escpecailly
since the Federal Govenrment will be adopting these soon!  Just think of the
number of sites this will influenece and the trikle down affect to State and
Local governments and to contractors and web design houses that must market
to the Federal Market - thats is a significant number!

I appreciate your time to here my comments, but also want to add that I
think everyone has done a super job to get us here, especially those people
writing the Specifications, excuse me, Guidelines <grin>.

Received on Sunday, 11 July 1999 22:47:47 UTC

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