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[Protocols] After today's call

From: John Foliot <john@foliot.ca>
Date: Fri, 11 Mar 2022 14:27:04 -0500
Message-ID: <CAFmg2sV0tvadmL9iU_bLQJmMPbOQ2oEr=-f6ejSwdNKGMjs3qw@mail.gmail.com>
To: WCAG <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>, Silver TF <public-silver@w3.org>
Hello All,

Thank you for posting today's minutes. This email provides my comments on
four different topics raised on today's call:

   1. Defining "Protocols"
   2. Scoring Protocols (credit)
   3. Statements versus Assertions
   4. Protocols in the Regulatory environment


*Defining "Protocols"*

shadi: shouldn't spend to much time trying to define what it is, but in
terms of communication, every time I hear protocols described, its a
different description. It makes it hard for somebody to be involved and

I agree with Shadi - words are important and so are definitions. I don't
think that definitions within this group need to be "normative" at this
time (but perhaps down the road?), but having a shared understanding of
what is meant by a Protocol is - to my mind - a critical point. Since the
group has been using some examples to help flesh out the larger
conversation, I'd like to suggest that there are two examples that seem to
have a similar structure, that also meet my mental model:
plainlanguage.gov's Requirements,
and Making Content Usable For...COGA's Outcomes. Based on those two
documents (and some word choices previously provided by Juanita), might I
suggest the following definition:

   - A Protocol defines outcomes that cannot be specifically measured.
   Outcomes impacted by Protocols can nonetheless be Assessed and, based on
   the language of the Protocol, a final Determination can be arrived at with
   some level of consistency.
   (**IMPORTANT* there is a critical if nuanced difference between
   "measuring" and "assessing for determination", and moving forward we should
   be very mindful NOT to introduce the term "measure" in any of our
   - Protocols are assessed at the 'site' or application level (i.e. across
   multiple screens or views). Protocols are therefore holistic in nature:
   they are generally not applied to specific or individual content, but
   rather are a process or methodology used at content creation time. (e.g.: a
   Plain Language Protocol is not used to assess individual sentences or
   paragraphs, but rather applied to all written content on the
   - A Protocol provides sufficient examples and other instructional
   content (Personas?) that evaluators can use to Assess content and other
   deliverables covered by the topic of the Protocol; both at content creation
   time, but also later at Determination time.
   (A roadmap versus a yardstick.)
   - Protocols have a high component of *education* associated with the
   Protocol - they are instructional in their presentation, and seek to
   'teach' content creators how to achieve a successful outcome.


*Scoring "Protocols" (credit)*

<jaunita_george> I'd feel more comfortable if it's more "extra credit" or
related to the maturity model work.

This aligns with my thinking as well. We are stuck in that currently the
scoring and conformance work within our group is stalled, but broadly
speaking the *thing* that will differentiate Gold from Silver and Bronze is
(conceptually) "*points*" (i.e. a final score).

In my original presentation, I had suggested that the application of
Protocols would accrue *points *that would contribute to the 'final score'.
However it's not *"extra credit"*, it is simply "credit" - the application
of Protocols should not be "extra", but rather part of a larger production
process, and no more or less important than the application of specific
Requirements (SC). Making them "extra" will likely have the unintended
consequence of relegating them to the same conceptual pile as WCAG 2.x AAA
requirements: important in context but rarely looked at or taken seriously.
I would also strongly object to any mechanism that only saw Protocols
"kick-in" at the Silver or Gold levels - this too will suggest a different
level of importance, which I will argue is counter-productive to the larger

*Statements versus Assertions*

CA: speaking about ways of how a protocol was done
… sometimes we talk about a public statement
… but I don't know what a public assertion is

I have noted that words are important, and this remains true here too. To
my thinking, a Public Statement or a Public Assertion are essentially the
same thing: it is a *public* and binding statement of fact made by the
entity. *Plain language principles* would lean towards calling it a
"Statement", however the nuanced but real difference between the two
dictionary definitions of those terms continues to lead me to favor
"Assertion". Merriam Webster says:

Definition of *statement*

1: something stated <https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stated>:
such as

          a: a single declaration or remark
          b: a report of facts or opinions

Definition of *assertion*

    the act of asserting <https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/assert> or
something that is asserted: such as
a: *insistent and positive affirming, maintaining, or defending* (as of a
right or attribute)
an assertion of ownership/innocence
b: a declaration that something is the case
He presented no evidence to support his assertions.

In this context it outlines a promised commitment, and based on the example
I shared previously (and, I suspect, in alignment with similar documents
that Jake has referenced previously) could mandate - in our context - some
specific requirements (date, duration of the statement - we could limit it
to 12 or 24 months for example, the *public URL* where anyone can go and
read the "expected outcomes", the name of someone within the organization
who has taken the formal responsibility for ensuring the Protocol statement
is written, updated, and most importantly applied, etc.)

*Protocols in the Regulatory environment*

JG: not sure how much we should tie this to courts

Two thoughts here:
1 - we do not do the "tying", that is up to the regulators. We produce
Recommendations (Standards) that the regulators incorporate into their
legislation. We have multiple examples today where legislators have adopted
WCAG 2.x with specific modifications or omissions. (ref: AODA
2 - looking at Plain Language, and plainlanguage.gov - it appears that the
US Federal Government has already adopted the broader concept of a
"Protocol" [sic] and have provided a conformance and compliance reporting
mechanism already, so I do not think this will be novel nor controversial
to the regulators - it is in fact building on a pattern they first
established more than a decade ago (at least in the US - we need to also
remember that our Recommendation needs to work at a Global level as well)

*John Foliot* |
Senior Industry Specialist, Digital Accessibility |
W3C Accessibility Standards Contributor |

"I made this so long because I did not have time to make it shorter." -
Pascal "links go places, buttons do things"
Received on Friday, 11 March 2022 19:27:34 UTC

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