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Re: RE: working definition of baseline

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.its.unimelb.edu.au>
Date: Mon, 9 May 2005 10:15:20 +1000
To: "'Web Content Guidelines'" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <20050509001520.GA3155@jdc>

On Sun, May 08, 2005 at 04:48:28PM -0500, Gregg Vanderheiden wrote:
> I am confused.  If we aren't talking about accessibility - then I'm not sure
> what we are or should be talking about.   Actually - we are only chartered
> to talk about accessibility.  So if we aren't talking about it..... 

We are talking about accessibility; my point was only that the concept 
of a baseline has nothing to do with accessibility. Every piece of 
content on the Web has a user agent baseline. Of course, we are 
interested in applying the concept in WCAG to the evaluation of 
accessibility and the making of accessibility-related conformance 
claims, but that doesn't mean the concept of baseline itself has any 
intrinsic connection with accessibility.

> Let me try to see if I can figure this out for myself out loud.    
> First - we have to say "baseline" for what.  
> Soooooo - how about this.
> <proposal> 
> Baseline User Agent Assumptions.
> Any set of technologies that are assumed to be supported by the user agent
> and enabled (turned on) when determining if the content would meet the WCAG
> 2.0 guidelines (at any level). 

This is good, as it captures the aspect of baseline which I think every 
participant in this discussion is likely to to agree upon.

> NOTE 1: Some examples of entities that may set baselines that an author may
> have to follow include the author, their company, a customer and government
> entities. 
> NOTE 2: In the techniques document we plan to discuss techniques for
> conforming to WCAG 2.0 based on three different baselines (i.e. assumptions
> of technologies supported and active in user agents).
> </proposal>

All fine so far. Is this everything we need, or do we also have to say 
what has so often been urged in connection with the concept of a 
baseline, that it is the minimum set of technologies which the content 
requires in order to be operative? This is where the distinction is 
drawn between technologies which are part of the baseline, hence 
essential to the content's being presented/functional, and technologies 
that are not, in the absence of which the content "degrades gracefully"?

I can envisage situations in which content might pass a success 
criterion if the baseline is taken to comprise all the technologies used 
in it, but not if the baseline consists only of technologies that are 
indispensable to the content's being presented by a user agent.

So, thinking as I write here, it appears that the minimality condition 
does make a difference and that the right way to think of a baseline is 
as whatever technologies a given piece of content of which conformance 
is claimed minimally requires for successful presentation and operation. 
My only point about accessibility was that this concept is not 
intrinsically tied to any notion of accessibility and applies to all 
content on the Web, whether it conforms or not; but the purpose for 
which we want to employ the concept relates to accessibility evaluation.
Received on Monday, 9 May 2005 00:15:37 UTC

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