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Not ok with use of term: Level-A, Level-AA, AAA

From: Sailesh Panchang <spanchang02@yahoo.com>
Date: Fri, 20 Jul 2007 23:25:23 -0700 (PDT)
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Message-ID: <932096.17445.qm@web38705.mail.mud.yahoo.com>

Refer to the following statements from WCAG 2.0:
“They (meaning the SC) are similar to the
"checkpoints" in WCAG 1.0
WCAG 2.0 success criteria are organized into three
levels of conformance.
The word "levels" does not mean that some success
criteria are more important than others. Each success
criterion in WCAG 2.0 is essential to some users, and
the levels build upon each other. However, even
content that conforms at AAA (triple-A) may not be
fully accessible to every person with a disability or
combination of disabilities, especially certain types
of severe disabilities. 
It is recommended that even if content does not
conform at a specific level, that it conform to the
extent possible.”

The document does state that the SC are akin to WCAG 1
checkpoints. WCAG 2 also uses level-A, AA and AAA
conformance like WCAG 1.0.
Although the WCAG2 doc clarifies that ‘"levels" does
not mean that some success criteria are more important
than others’, I feel the terminology used will lead to
a lot of confusion to the detriment of accessibility.
Most will interpret a level-A SC as superior in terms
of accessibility than a level-AA SC. (see example
below) It is as if I am saying my Web content is
superior in terms of accessibility if I meet a level-A
SC than a level-AAA SC (Present definition of
level-AAA: Level AAA success criteria increase both
direct access and access through assistive technology)
This type of competition is bad for accessibility. 

WCAG2 is about enhancing accessibility. 
The three types of SC should be simply called
Category-1, Category-2 and Category-3 - they simply
are three buckets into which various methods of
meeting a guideline can be dumped. Let developers
decide which method they wish to use. There may be
those, who in the interests of accessibility, may
choose to implement a level-AAA (or Category-3- my
term) method to provide enhanced accessibility instead
of a level-A method. Alternative terms are Tier-1,
Tier-2, Tier-3 or simply, Type-1, Type-2, Type-3.    

Example - a level-AAA SC being regarded as inferior
than level-A SC:  
In “WCAG 2.0 - Polishing the rough edges”, Jared Smith
rightly argues that transcripts are a superior method
for implementing accessibility (SC 1.2.7) than
captions. He also makes a case for labeling
transcripts as a level-A (or Category-1 method in my
parlance). That is another point. But when he states,
“_relegating_ transcripts to level AAA is a mistake”,
I believe he too interprets that WCAG2 regards
transcripts as an inferior method as compared to

Sailesh Panchang

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Received on Saturday, 21 July 2007 06:25:37 UTC

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