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Re: Conditional assignment of Priority levels in WCAG?

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 1999 12:25:56 -0400 (EDT)
To: "webmaster@dors.sailorsite.net" <webmaster@dors.sailorsite.net>
cc: "'w3c-wai-gl@w3.org'" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.10.9907221159350.8980-100000@tux.w3.org>

I think that the needs you are articulating are already incoporated in the
document. Checkpoint 11.1 specifically requires graceful transformation for
technologies which do not have sufficient implementation support.

At the very least, there is currently no enforcement, and a reasonable
argument can be made that the Q element is not widely supported. SImilarly,
within CSS there is provision to include the presentational elements of HTML
in the cascade of styles. Where a style sheet is used alongside
presentational HTML, to provide a graceful transformation of the look and
feel in older browsers, that probably meets the requirement. I would suggest
that the use of tables does not fall into this category, since they conflict
with the use of CSS for layout.

An important thing to consider is that however you choose to present your
material, the appropriate use of structured markup is what allows user agents
to present a site appropriately, be that for a modern dektop computer with
large screen, fast connections and up-to-date software, an older computer
with slower hardware, smaller screen, fewer colours (it is amazing how
different things can look in 256 colours) and an old browser, or a mobile
phone based system which mixes a tiny screen, small keyboard, speech input
and output with a specially designed browser using significant transformation
of the content to render it to the user in the most appropraite fashion.

And of course I will reiterate that the primary concern of the guidelines is
what must/should/may be done to improve the accessibility of web content, not
its marketability, since in general that lies outside the scope of the
guidelines. If people choose to put a priority on how they are told something
will be seen which is higher than the priority on whether people can really
use it then the problem is well beyond the scope of the guidelines group.

Just my 2 centimes worth

Charles McCN

On Thu, 22 Jul 1999, Bruce Bailey wrote:

  Dear WAI GL Group,
  I respectfully request consideration and discussion that the Priority level 
  of certain checkpoints in the WCAG be conditional.
  The WCAG is already a fluid document in that it uses the phrase "until user 
  agents" frequently.  I believe that it is appropriate to extend this 
  thinking to at least a few checkpoints.  I will critique checkpoints 3.3 
  and 3.7 in particular.
  The purpose of this would be to make it easier for current sites which are 
  perfectly accessible (and "Bobby Approved") to achieve AA WCAG conformance 
  rating.  The justification is to allow something of a modest reinforcement 
  to those who have been championing universal design for years before the 
  WCAG was released.
  Specifically, I propose that 3.3 be changed to:
  3.3 Use style sheets to control layout and presentation. [Priority 2 for 
  the strict HTML 4.0 DTD, Priority 3 otherwise]
  This is justified because it would allow ACCESSIBLE documents (that adhere 
  to the 3.2 / 4.0 transitional DTD) to achieve AA rating.  As the WCAG is 
  written now, one cannot achieve AA without using CSS.  The importance and 
  appropriateness of CSS is reinforces several times throughout the WCAG, but 
  this checkpoint, as it is written, is a little too strict.
  One could also avoid ALL elements AND attributes that affect presentation 
  (like align=center), but this is too strict too -- and still would require 
  a massive rewrite of most pages that are perfectly accessible (and "Bobby 
  Approved").  Most authors, include those who are interested in writing 
  accessible pages, are loathe to give up ALL of there basic layout controls, 
  especially when we know that many can be used WITHOUT detracting from 
  I also propose that 3.7 be changed:
  3.7 Mark up quotations. Do not use quotation markup for formatting effects 
  such as indentation. [Priority 3 until user agents better support the <Q> 
  tag, otherwise Priority 2]
  Another possibility is to split this checkpoint into <BLOCKQUOTE> [Priority 
  2] and <Q> [Priority 3].
  I agree with trying to reduce the abuse of the <BLOCKQUOTE> tag, but it 
  strikes me as patently absurd to put so much emphasis on <Q> when the 
  modern GUI support is so abysmal (Lynx handles it fine BTY).  How can a 
  currently unsupported feature be more accessible than using ASCII (neutral) 
  marks?  How is something that will typically not be rendered (and therefore 
  be invisible) be "better" than a convention that has worked fine for 
  <RANT>Mind you, I love the <Q> element and cannot for the life of figure 
  out why is was not included sooner, nor why the 4x versions of the major 
  browsers don't support it!  Personally, I absolutely HATE neutral quote 
  marks.  They are on the top of my list of typographical pet peeves.</RANT> 
   At the risk of having one of my favorite techniques condemned by the WCAG, 
  I will also point out that 3.7 should be expanded to explicitly also shun 
  use of &#147; and &#8220; and &ldquo; and the like.
  Finally, let me conclude by saying that I do appreciate how forward looking 
  the WCAG 1.0 is.  Along with others, I missed the opportunity to critique 
  the assignment of Priority levels and I did not comprehend the consequences 
  of missing even one Priority 2 checkpoint.  I recognize that it is probably 
  too late to edit a "stable" W3C recommendation.  Perhaps what I really want 
  is come conditional element to the application of the Conformance Logos 
  (http://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG1-Conformance) so that sites which were 
  perfectly accessible before the WCAG came out, can at least claim AA 
  Thank you for your time.
  Bruce Bailey

--Charles McCathieNevile            mailto:charles@w3.org
phone: +1 617 258 0992   http://www.w3.org/People/Charles
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative    http://www.w3.org/WAI
MIT/LCS  -  545 Technology sq., Cambridge MA, 02139,  USA
Received on Thursday, 22 July 1999 12:26:06 UTC

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