Re: Checkpoint 3.3

I wish to propose two further arguments in relation to this topic:

1. The compliance costs associated with implementation of checkpoint 3.3
need not be great. As I understand it, the W3C already provides a suite of
sample style sheets, known to be compatible with existing user agents,
which can be readily used or adapted as required. Furthermore, only one
style sheet needs to be introduced into a particular web site. Thus, an
organisation can develop its own style sheet (in which case, only one or
two people need to be familiar with CSS), and the authors of subsidiary
pages can simply be directed to insert <link rel="stylesheet"
type="text/css" href="stylesheet.css"> (substituting the name of the
site-wide style sheet for "stylesheet.css" in this example) into each of
their HTML documents, thereby importing the organisation-wide style. It
should also be remembered that style sheets collect much of the formatting
control into a single file; changing the appearance of an entire web site
therefore becomes as simple as modifying the style sheet, by contrast with
the effort required manually to edit a large number of documents
containing presentational markup in order to make consistent
presentational changes. Thus, the costs, such as they are, of applying
style sheets are outwayed by (1) their access advantages; (2) the ease
with which they permit global, site-wide changes to be made; (3) the
increased flexibility in visual presentation offered by style sheets as
comapred with HTML presentational markup.

2. It should also be noted that, as the Web Content Acessibility
Guidelines themselves require, style sheets "degrade gracefully"--that is
to say, a reasonable presentation of the document will be provided if
support for style sheets is deactivated or not supported by the user
agent. To receive the full visual presentation of the document, it is
necessary to support the style sheet; but in its absence, the page can
still be read intelligibly, with a reasonable default presentation of the
HTML structural elements. There are many web sites today which make use of
frames; these are often accompanied by a NOFRAMES message which informs
the reader that the web site in question requires frames, and suggests a
browser upgrade (often with links to the home pages corresponding to one
or more popular graphical browsers). If web site developers consider such
an approach to be acceptable, then by parity of reasoning, the argument
that style sheets should not be employed due to lack of support from older
user agents, becomes untenable, especially when it is recognised that
style sheets, unlike frames, degrade gracefully.

To clarify my earlier remark concerning government policy, it is the
responsibility of governments when establishing access requirements to
ensure that their own departments and agencies have sufficient resources
with which to comply; it is not the responsibility of this workig group to
compensate for any shortcoming that may arise in this regard.

In conclusion, I would argue that checkpoint 3.3 is a reasonable priority
2 requirement and that this working group should not remove or otherwise
circumvent it in future revisions of the guidelines.

Received on Monday, 12 July 1999 23:22:19 UTC