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Re: [171] accessible rebroadcasts

From: Joe Clark <joeclark@joeclark.org>
Date: Sun, 22 Jun 2003 12:19:04 -0400
Message-Id: <a05200f2fbb1a43faa489@[]>
To: WAI-GL <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>, Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>

>This looks to me much more like trying to develop policy than any 
>technical explanation of twhat is required for streamed media to be 

We're writing a performance standard, not a design standard. We 
articulate principles and then give cases, based on specific 
technologies (e.g., alt text in HTML), on how to meet the principles. 
I believe the colloquial term for the above claim is "straw-man 

>Internet radio is not accesible to Deaf people unless it has 
>captions or signed captions.

"Signed captions" wouldn't be captions, because that would be a 
translation, and sign language is accessible only to the speakers of 
its translated language, while captioning is accessible to all 
speakers of the source language.

In any event, of course net radio is inaccessible to the deaf. Radio 
radio is inaccessible to the deaf. And, you know, some things are 
either intrinsically inaccessible (to give a job-related example, 
driving a bus if you're severely visually impaired) or cannot be made 
accessible without undue hardship. That exemption exists in many 
human-rights and disability laws for a reason.

I would just like proponents of *requiring* all online audio feeds to 
be captioned to establish the following:

* That they know the true variety and extent of current online audio 
types. 45-second demo files are of course one such variation, but 
does WAI (note well I am saying "WAI") really know how widely used 
online audio is, and in how many ways?

* That they know the exact steps that would need to be taken-- 
technical, human-resources, the lot-- to actually caption all those 
audio variations. I really mean the exact steps-- no vagaries like 
"provide captioning."

* That they understand the cost and levels of expertise involved.

Once we've got some assurance that WAI (note well: WAI) knows what 
it's talking about instead of floating various abstract notions, then 
we could have an informed discussion.

>WAI doesn't invalidate anything - it just lays out the technical 
>information required so that people can make sensible decisions of 
>fact (is Internet radio accessible as is?) and based on those they 
>can make policy decisions (should internet radio reqiure captions? 
>SHould all movies always require audio description? Starting 

WCAG invalidates inaccessible Web features. WCAG articulates 
principles and provides certain limited technical guidance.

It's also seemingly contradictory here: Charles flatly states that 
net radio, to use the example, is inaccessible to deaf listeners, 
meaning he would presumably countenance fixing the problem once and 
for all. Yet here he says WCAG should simply state a problem and let 
somebody else decide to fix it.

And what *I* wrote was:

>>No captions for audio-only feeds even if they're nothing but voice. 
>>I don't want WAI essentially invalidating net radio. Compact discs 
>>don't have to be made accessible to the deaf because their sound 
>>contents have no visual component, but music videos must be 
>>captioned because they do have a visual component. The same 
>>principle applies here.

Captions would be permitted. We just wouldn't require them. I suppose 
I should have made that more obvious.

>My interest in this group is in writing techniques. Providing 
>techniques for captioning internet radio streams is one thing, but 
>working on techniques for deciding when they become mandatory is 
>something that is best decided by policy makers, and something that 
>will be decided differently in different areas.

WCAG *requires* certain accessibility steps be taken to achieve Level 
[X] compliance. WCAG is all *about* requirements even if the ultimate 
WCAG is verbally camouflaged as a W3C "recommendation."

I don't know why Charles has his knickers in a knot about this. Maybe 
he could give it another go, answering my queries above and trying 
harder to make sense this time.

>Grace periods and exemptions to allow people to conform are not what 
>the WCAG group is about


How are Priority 1, 2, and 3 compliance today really different from 
phased-in grace periods? Meet Priority 1 now, and later, after some 
more work, meet 2, then later still and after more work, meet 3.

I provided my suggestions for audiovisual accessibility in direct 
response to Gregg Vanderheiden's query and in response to a couple of 
off-list requests.

I have opted not to spend an hour and a half writing 2,000 words 
providing a technical justification for what I wrote, but trust me: 
There is neither the technology nor the funding nor the expertise in 
the world right now to caption all online video. The money part isn't 
going to go away soon. But the technology and expertise could be 
ramped up rather quickly if a deadline were looming. My suggestion 
requires *some* online video on a site to carry captions (audio 
description is a separate discussion) to meet Level [X] accessibility 
in WCAG 2.0. Two years (for example) later, that same site would have 
to caption *all* its new video to meet Level [X]. That's an audacious 
requirement, all but unprecedented, in fact. (I know of one limited 

That all seems like win-win to me. As it stands, there is almost no 
video on the Web with captions. It is nearly impossible to find. For 
a multimedia-rich site, this is a severe stumbling block to meeting 
current Priority 1 accessibility *requirements* under WCAG 1.0. As I 
have explained to WAI (note well: WAI) many times in the past, if 
WCAG goes overboard in specific areas, developers will simply refuse 
to adopt the whole package. That will certainly be true if Level [X] 
compliance in 2.0 is based on an all-or-nothing group of 
requirements, as is currently the case.

In other words, if we heed Charles's strident cries and require 
captions on all online audio starting on day one, then we'll see 
massive defection from WCAG 2.0, damaging articles in the online 
publications, and widespread condemnation of WAI (note well: WAI).

If, on the other hand, we show we're serious about audiovisual 
accessibility *but also realistic* about how to do it, then guess 
what? People will comply because they will actually be able to.

>  - and they seem to be closely predicated on the application of WCAG 
>to North America - or are you arguing that a grace period of about 2 
>years would be appropriate for Vietnamese-produced net-TV and 
>educational video supplied in English/French/Bislama over the 
>internet by the government of Vanuatu?

Canada and the United States, but certainly not Mexico, are the world 
leader in AV accessibility. Australia, merely as an example, can't 
even get its act together on TV captioning. And Charles again reverts 
to his favoured mechanism of positing an obscure edge case as an 
argument to be applied everywhere. The problem is how often WAI buys 
those kinds of arguments.

The day Vietnam starts producing "net-TV and educational video" to 
Vanuatu is the day I hop the monorail down to Manhattan to get my 
hair done.


     Joe Clark | joeclark@joeclark.org
     Accessibility <http://joeclark.org/access/>
     Weblogs and articles <http://joeclark.org/weblogs/>
     <http://joeclark.org/writing/> | <http://fawny.org/>
Received on Sunday, 22 June 2003 12:19:56 UTC

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