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Big issues (elephants) for discussion at CSUN face to face meeting

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>
Date: Fri, 14 Mar 2003 16:53:30 -0600
Message-ID: <15986.23914.709386.222598@jpc.local>
To: Web Content Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

 Ben, Gregg, Wendy and I have been preparing for the upcoming face to face 
meeting by going through the most recent draft and the comments on the 
October public draft.  Here are some issues that will likely form the base 
for discussions at the F2F.  We intend to send proposals or further 
discussion questions before the F2F (hopefully before end of day Monday EST 
to give people ample time to consider the questions for themselves).

This list of issues and questions was compiled by Wendy based on
conversations involving the Chairs and Editors.

1. Scope of conformance claims
Scope can not be entirely open for people to pick and choose which 
checkpoints to conform to or it will be abused by some, yet it can not be 
completely closed or people will find it impossible to use for some sites 
or portions of sites.  We should find a balance between the two extremes.

We need to be very careful how we do this. It can not be done by example or 
technology it needs to be done by concept.  Two concepts that we have been 
considering which might be part of this set are a "process" and a 

a.  If an entire process is not accessible then components of the 
process should not be claimed as accessible.  For example:
   - a shopping site where the checkout is not accessible.
   - an online course where two modules are not accessible.

b. Content can not be claimed as accessible if the path to the content is not 

We also need to keep in mind exceptions and when they can and can not be 
used.  For example, for copyrighted or legacy content.

2. Balance between generality and specificity.
The WCAG 2.0 Working Draft strives to achieve a balance between generality 
and specificity.  Generality allows principles to be applicable across a 
diverse range of Web-related technologies and specificity provides precise 
guidance for developers (while technology-specific details are provided by 
Techniques).  While we need to maintain this balance, as the document 
currently exists some checkpoints do not make sense when read out of 
context.  Also, some checkpoints take on a different meaning when read with 
the success criteria. For example, Checkpoint 3.2 (Provide multiple methods 
to explore sites that are more than two layers deep) seems to refer to 
sites but some of the success criteria refer to documents.  As written, 
this checkpoint does not seem to apply to Web applications.  "Layer" is not 
well-defined and implies a hierarchy.  However, if we are talking about a 
Web of information, there is not necessarily a linear order nor a hierarchy.

How can we help the developer understand what a checkpoint means and how a 
checkpoint applies to different types of content while not relying on 
Techniques for understanding?

3. More difficult to conform to WCAG 2.0 than WCAG 1.0?
Although some things are easier in WCAG 2.0, by requiring a minimum level 
of conformance to each checkpoint we may be making some parts of WCAG 2.0 
harder to conform to than WCAG 1.0.  For example, in WCAG 1.0 checkpoints 
related to providing navigation mechanisms are priority 2 and 3, while in 
WCAG 2.0 we have several minimum level success criteria.  We're considering 
whether we should merge some checkpoints and move some of the success 
criteria to the Second Level rather than the Minimum (see item 8 for more 
thoughts on reorganization).

4. Requirements to change content
The primary strategy to improve accessibility has been to supplement 
content with additional information.  For example, text equivalents and 
structural markup enables a user agent or assistive technology to make the 
content accessible to the user.  Some of our current checkpoints go beyond 
this by requiring authors to change the manner in which their primary 
content is expressed or presented.  For example, checkpoint 1.4  (emphasize 
structure through presentation), checkpoint 3.1 (provide structure), 4.1 
(write clearly) and 4.2 (supplement text with illustrations).

There are two issues with altering the primary content rather than 
supplementing it:
   a. it potentially limits the author's freedom of expression,
   b. it is not appropriate or permissible in some circumstances,
       e.g., in the case of legal documents, and historical, artistic,
       and literary works.

Should minimum level success criteria that impose constraints on the 
author's means of expression be shifted to level 2?  We have discussed a 
variety of potential future technologies (e.g., metadata).  However, those 
tools are not widely deployed and the schemas still in development.  How 
should we address the tension between solving current problems without 
constraining the author's freedom of expression?  How do we address the 
opportunities that emerging technologies such as metadata will 
provide?  Can we achieve some of this with semantic markup and next 
generation assistive technologies?

5. Relation to user agents
What functionality are we currently requiring of the content that a user 
agent could provide if the author provides appropriate information?  For 
example, if the author provides structure a user agent could create a 
navigation mechanism through the content based on the user's 
preferences.  Can user agents provide some of the functionality we have 
been thinking about requiring the author to do?

6. Definitions
The WCAG WG has not tackled the definitions of the terms that we are using 
and we sometimes use terms inconsistently.  We need to submit our terms and 
definitions to the WAI Glossary. We are working on proposals for a variety 
of definitions.  We have been looking at the UAAG 1.0 glossary and other 
glossaries within the W3C.

7. Web applications, Web sites, documents
Related to definitions,  which terms do we use to make sure that the 
principles we are writing apply to applications, Web sites, and 
documents?  In particular, we have been looking at the variety of ways we 
use "content." Also, we use "Web site" or "document" or "page" instead of 
something more general that would include Web applications.

8. Collapsing navigation into perceivable and understanding?
Navigation (Guideline 3) checkpoints seem to be closely related to 
Perceivable (Guideline 1) and Understanding (Guideline 4).  Should the 
checkpoints in Guideline 3 be incorporated into the Guideline 1 and 
Guideline 4 checkpoints?  This would reduce the number of high-level 
guidelines and may help clarify the underlying issues with navigation.

We are looking for input and thoughts on all of these issues as well as any 
other concerns you would like to raise.

wendy a chisholm
world wide web consortium
web accessibility initiative
Received on Friday, 14 March 2003 17:53:38 UTC

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