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Re: Please slow down a bit

From: <Jabrewerrr@aol.com>
Date: Mon, 8 Sep 1997 23:37:15 -0400 (EDT)
Message-ID: <970908233333_674066790@emout03.mail.aol.com>
To: Jaap.van.Lelieveld@inter.nl.net
cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org, humanity@mailhost.atlas.co.uk, styler@rnib.org.uk

Thank you for your comments, you raise some good points.  

The "Next Steps" message for the WAI Working Groups, Coordination Group and
Interest Group was just the first message of several where we are trying to
establish clearer processes for the WAI, and so it left a number of questions
unanswered.  I'll try to address some of the issues here, and let's continue
the conversation directly if you want (I'm at JBrewer@w3.org), or on the
list-serve if you'd rather.  We'll go into more depth on other process issues
in future e-mails.   

>Dear Daniel and jody,
>It is good to hear about the sudden developments.
>I am glad though I joined both the Nice and Boston meetings.
>In Boston I expressed my concerns on how user were expected to
>join the five-working group construction.

I remember, and we talked about it some, but I'm not sure we came up with a
solution in the group discussion except to say that we needed to establish a
process for the WAI that would take into account this issue.  Let me be sure I
 am understanding you clearly -- is your primary concern that users will be
spread too thin, wanting to participate in different discussions, but not
having the time or resources to track so many separate discussions?

>The current developments make sure - to me at least - I was
>Therefore - as you can imagen - I am not happy.

We kept in mind the point you'd raised when we were planning the format of
the working groups, coordination group and interest group, and I think it
will work, although there are some things that we still need to figure out.
 Here are some of the considerations we need to take into account:

From a technical perspective, I don't think the critical work can be
accomplished in fewer than five working groups since there would be too many
separate threads of discussion going on in one place with not enough focus.
 Probably not everybody can or would want to participate in so many different
discussions at the detail level, but probably most WAI interest group
participants want to be able to comment on the recommendations of the working
groups.  So the working groups should feed their recommendations to the
interest group for review, and they should also bounce issues up to the
interest group for comment as needed.

I think we'll need to work carefully to make the relationship between the
working groups and the interest group works well, and make sure that issues
that need comment from the interest group do get bounced there for comment.
 That's where the coordination group can help.  The coordination group
oversees the work flow for those five groups; helps identify issues that the
interest group has identified but the working groups are missing; helps
identify areas where the working groups need to get help from interest group
members; and helps ensure that the working groups coordinate closely with
other consortium work to have the most strategic impact on accessibility
issues.  We are hoping that some users will participate in the coordination
group in addition to the chairs of the working groups that usually make up a
coordination group.  

So, a user with an interest in a particular area but with limited time might
want to participate in one or two technical working groups plus the interest
group; a user with interests across a range of areas but with limited time
might want to participate in the coordination group, the interest group, and
no working groups; someone who wants to contribute to the overall direction
of the WAI but doesn't want the detail of the technical discussions may want
to participate on the interest group and nothing else; or any variation of

One last thing here about the interest group is that I expect it will be more
active soon (once I'm at the consortium later in September, or sooner if we
get a good discussion going from this!) and that it will take on some of the
more general what-are-our-issues, what's-the-best-strategy,
what-areas-do-we-need-to-watch type of discussion that was previously
happening on the WAI WG list-serve.      

>First of all it might be good to explain a bit more clearly
>what kind of man power is requested for each working group. Half a line
>of description is a bit poor.

This is going to vary since some of the working group areas are broad or
multi-topic and some are more focussed.  Five people is probably the minimum,
but some could get much bigger than that and still have plenty to do.  

>Second I would like to hear from you how you expect the user to
>participate; how will future activities be organized.
>Who is responsible for meetings etc. and who will pay the costs?

Lots of questions here and I'll give some quick answers to the best of my
understanding now; these were some of the questions we planned to deal with
in future messages so there'll be more detail coming. 

User participation:  
- list-serves can be an effective and low- (or no) cost way to participate in
- conference call costs can be covered through the International Program
Office (IPO) for users whose organizations can't cover the cost of participati
- face-to-face meetings are set up by the chair in conjunction with
consortium staff such as Daniel or myself, and probably the WAI working
groups will meet in conjunction with a meeting of the broader IPO/WAI
interest group.  There is usually a corporate host which sponsors the meeting
location.  Again the user participation can be covered through the
International Program Office for users whose organizations can't cover the
cost of participating.  

>Third I have the feeling we did not use our time in Nice and
>Boston correctly. Not that the work we did was not okay.
>The work on the guidelines we did in Boston will prove to be
>usefull. It becomes clear now though we did not do more urgent
>things. I am glad Marray did, but it could have been much more
>fruitfull if we did approach these kind of things in may instead of
>It is always good to do the urgent things first.

I was not at the meeting in Nice and so can't comment there, but at the
August meeting we had not realized how rapidly the work was moving in HTML
and CSS, so we didn't deal with those areas as urgently as we should have.
 That is the kind of thing that the coordination group will be doing, keeping
an eye out for critical timing and making sure each work group moves its
agenda accordingly.  

>I do understand things must be done fast now, but how do you want
>to organize it? One conference call a week? How and when with
>all different time zones in mind?

- some areas such as HTML and CSS recommendations, which are under the WAI
Formats and Protocols Working Group, need to move very quickly to be able to
submit their recommendations to the W3C HTML and CSS Working Groups in time
for action. 
- conference call times should be negotiated as best as possible between the
different time zones of the participants; in some cases you might want to
rotate times, or just pick a time when no one is asleep but some people are
on the phone from home.  I've been in calls with participants in Japan,
Europe and the US, and this actually works pretty well.  

>By the way what is the agenda? What are we going for?
>The recent meetings showed everybody as a different opinion about

I think it is inevitable at first that people have different ideas of what
accessibility is, and is one of the interesting things about getting
different perspectives working towards a common goal -- often the goal gets
better defined and more powerful as people exchange and refine their ideas.
 Accessibility of the web is a very broad goal; I think different people
focus on different aspects or strategies towards that goal, and for the
project to be successful we'll need to be able to discuss and debate which
ones to prioritize, and we'll need to pursue many of them.

The agenda for the WAI, including the work of International Program Office
for the WAI, includes ensuring that the formats and protocols support
accessibility; developing clear accessibility guidelines for authoring tools,
browsers, and content developers; developing ways to verify accessibility;
and multiple strategies for education and outreach around all of these.  

>Do we come to an agreement again without having any target
>or terms of reference in mind?

I think that as we work on different parts of web accessibility, we'll
develop a common language for it, but sometimes we'll need to stop and check
with each other to make sure we're talking about the same thing.

>Who is expected to support the outcome? How can be asked to explain
>the outcome? Annonymous researchers or only Murray because 
>he gives his opinion even if he is not asked to do so?

The IPO/WAI Interest Group should be the body that decides if it supports the
recommendations of the Working Groups, and we will make sure it has a clear
process.  Participants can explain the process to their organizations when
the outcome isn't what they wanted.  I don't think any of the working group
members will be anonymous.  With regard to Murray's work at the HTML & CSS
Working Groups, I think what he did was crucial because he made sure the
issues got raised in that meeting even though the WAI accessibility work was
still in its early stages.  One reason for the "next steps" message that
Daniel and I sent out was to start defining the process more clearly.

On a more concrete level, once the working groups have made their
recommendations and the interest group has reviewed them, we expect to
integrate these into the formats and protocols endorsed by the consortium.
 So ultimately the supporters of the working groups' outcomes will be the
industry members of the consortium, along with disability and government
organizations which have participated in the process.

>You can not be serious if you expect from me - and others - to explain
>I did a good job joining WAI.
>I argue a lot against the way how (our) volenteer organizations
>sometimes do their jobs, but this approach beats everything.
>I really feel sorry to say so, but this approach can never bring
>the result we need. 

It usually takes some time for new projects to establish an effective
approach.  This project is new in a lot of ways -- there have not been a lot
of settings where industry, the disability community, and representatives
from different national governments have tried to work together towards a
common goal of accessibility.  I think it's going to take a while to figure
out the right approach and to learn to work with each other well, and I hope
you'll contribute towards helping find that right approach.  If we can figure
out the right approach, it will be a powerful combination.

>I as an EBU representative, representing the users of europe, must
>say I can NOT agree on this approach.  I hope you will be
>able to turn this work in a direction which is more acceptable
>for all participants.
>I would like to repeat myself and say: we still need access to
>information (WWW) after WAI has ended.

I couldn't agree more with the need for people with disabilities to have
access to information, and I think everybody who's participating in this
project probably feels the same thing.  

>Best regards,
>Message from: Jaap van Lelieveld      The Netherlands
>              Chairman of EBU commission on Technical Devices and Services
>E-mail:       Jaap.van.Lelieveld@inter.nl.net


Judy Brewer
International Program Office for the Web Accessibility Initiative
World Wide Web Consortium
Received on Monday, 8 September 1997 23:38:05 UTC

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