Re: Organizing WCAG 2.0

I like Ian's proposal, a variation of which might well work. One problem,
however, is as follows:

Suppose that an individual or organisation either develops a new
technology, for example a markup language, or extends an existing
technology (noting that most of the recent W3C formats are designed to be
extensible). Further, let it be assumed that the W3C has not developed a
profile for this technology (or, in the case of an extension, the profile
does not take account of the added features). Two questions arise:

a. Can the creator of the markup language (or of the extension) claim
conformance? Under Ian's proposal, the former presumably could not,
whereas the latter may be able to do so, depending upon the nature of the
conformance definition in the technology-specific profile.

b. Can a content developer who deploys the new markup language (or the
extension, as the case may be) assert conformance? Again, in the former
case, presumably not, whilst in the latter it would depend on the
technology-specific conformance definition, the nature of the extension
and its usage.

Needless to say, if the technology-specific profiles are required to
become W3C Recommendations, then the requirements of W3C process can
readily introduce a significant lapse of time between the appearance of a
new technology and the derivation of a relevant profile. If new markup
languages and, as is more likely, extensions of existing formats become
numerous it will become increasingly infeasible for a body such as the W3C
to develop technology-specific profiles which accommodate all of them.

Before concluding, I would like to put forward a proposal which strives to
meet these objections.

1. The generalized guidelines (comprising the technology-neutral layers as
Ian suggested) would have conformance criteria, but only software
protocols and data formats could (directly) conform. Thus, an entity which
developed a new technology could assert compliance, thereby claiming that
the technology includes features which, if used correctly, would satisfy
the requirements of the guidelines.

2. The W3C would create technology-specific profiles as Recommendations.
In the absence of a profile relative to a particular technology or
extension thereof, content developers could rely on any usage guidelines
promulgated by the developer of the new technology (or extension), though
the latter would not have the force of a W3C Recommendation. Perhaps the
developers of new technologies could be encouraged to take advantage of
the W3C submission process to propose technology-specific profiles for
consideration, and possible adoption, by the relevant working group.

One consequence of these arrangements would be the ongoing need for a
working group, constituted similarly to the Web Content Guidelines group,
to oversee the ongoing development of technology-specific profiles, qute
apart from any revision of the guidelines that might ultimately be needed.

I hope these arguments are sufficiently clear and that I have satisfied
most of the pertinent requirements.

Received on Friday, 18 August 2000 21:30:30 UTC