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RE: [166] Organize documents so they may be read without style sheets

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 02:16:58 -0400 (EDT)
To: Chris Brainerd <Chris.Brainerd@cds.hawaii.edu>
cc: Joe Clark <joeclark@joeclark.org>, WAI-GL <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.30.0306190213280.15282-100000@tux.w3.org>

The content should be available without the use of CSS. (By the way, this is
a test of whether the seperation of content from its presentation is
reflected in the technical modelling...)

A XAG-compliant XML format has a default stylesheet (as does XHTML). Perhaps
what we mean is that the default styling, for any medium, should be
sufficient to "read" the content - rather than saying this only applies to
HTML, which as Joe pointed out is very different to XML in regards to



On Wed, 18 Jun 2003, Chris Brainerd wrote:

>I concur that checkpoints that specify that pages be readable without
>CSS or scripting enabled harken back to support of legacy browsers and
>is that our charter?
>We should be careful with statements such as "should be readable"
>without style sheets because it invokes the concept of "readability"
>which is a much higher standard than simply being able to 'get' the
>Basically, are we stating that so long as a page can be 'perceived' or
>'rendered' without CSS (and missing the benefit of layout, structure,
>and embelishments that CSS provides) that a page is within compliance?
>If the author intends a user to experience a page using CSS then it is
>not a choice of the user not to fully experience the page?
>Chris Brainerd
>Instructional Designer
>Real Choices ACCESS
>Center on Disability Studies
>University of Hawaii
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Charles McCathieNevile [mailto:charles@w3.org]
>Sent: Saturday, June 14, 2003 4:46 AM
>To: Joe Clark
>Subject: RE: [166] Organize documents so they may be read without style
>There are a couple of reasons why this seems a worthwhile requirement to
>One is that the techniques for doing it are remarkably simple in general
>- don't (as Microsoft Publisher certainly used to) use CSS positioning
>to move the presentation of things which have a nonsensical source
>order, don't include vital content through  CSS (this is just accurately
>seperating content and presentation, although that is harder than people
>sometimes claim, as Jonathan's examplle shows).
>Certainly having a "different" but equally useful reading order seems
>less than terrible- this has been used as a quick hack to give good
>rendering for lynx users that is different to that provided for others
>(e.g. as a way around the skip navigation thing).
>This might seem like saying "don't do really perverse things to your
>page", but that still needs saying - after all one person's abominable
>perversion is another person's normal lifestyle.
>And the difference between floated and positioned elements, very
>roughly, is that floated elements are moved to one side or the other but
>are the same vertical position as they would be if not floated, whereas
>positioned elements can be placed more or less anywhere in the page, and
>can stay in one place on the screen while the rest of the page is
>On Fri, 13 Jun 2003, Joe Clark wrote:
>>I don't see a purpose to this guideline in 2003/2004. There just is no
>>plausible scenario in which a disabled person would be using a browser
>>that cannot render CSS and JavaScript *except* for Lynx or the even
>>rarer competing text-only browsers.
>>The guideline requires the page to be readable without stylesheets. The
>>ramifications of ordering HTML elements so they can be read have not
>>been fully understood, either. Maybe Eric Meyer could explain the
>>difference between floated and positioned elements and the requirements
>>for linear position in source code.
>>Even if that were an issue, I contend that the document could still be
>>*read* even if components were not in the same order as in CSS
>>presentation. Remember, we're assuming valid HTML here. Nobody's
>>expecting the same joy of use and ease of understanding with and
>>without CSS.
>>I don't see what problem this guideline could actually solve here in
>>the 21st century. It appears to attempt to restrict authors from using
>>CSS and JavaScript, both of which have no inevitable bearing on
>>accessibility. It seems to attempt to punish authors for making
>>sophisticated Web sites rather than plain-HTML sites. WCAG 2.0 needs to
>>encourage the use of CSS, not force authors to use it in one guideline
>>("use CSS for layout") and penalize them in another ("make things work
>>fine without CSS"). This guideline embodies one of the many
>>contradictions in WCAG 1.0.
>>I note that nobody can come up with real-world examples, save for one
>>very unusual page. It's just not applicable.
>>Hence, this guideline should not be included in WCAG 2.0.

Charles McCathieNevile  http://www.w3.org/People/Charles  tel: +61 409 134 136
SWAD-E http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/Europe         fax(france): +33 4 92 38 78 22
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Received on Thursday, 19 June 2003 02:17:10 UTC

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