W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > April to June 1999

RE: Bobby 3.1 Released

From: Chuck Hitchcock <chitchcock@cast.org>
Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 00:07:36 -0400
To: "Bruce Bailey" <bbailey@clark.net>, "Evaluation and Repair" <w3c-wai-er-ig@w3.org>, "Michael Cooper" <mcooper@cast.org>
Cc: "WAI IG" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <NBBBKAJEGLHENOJJCLGHEEOIDKAA.chitchcock@cast.org>

I wanted to respond to just a couple of points and leave the hard stuff to
Michael. I suspect that Michael will be out of the office on Friday and wanted
to make sure you had received a "starter response".

No member of the "Bobby team" works on Bobby exclusively.  I am writing this
from the National Summit on Learning Disabilities in Washington can spend only
a fraction of my time on Bobby development and fundraising.  Our Bobby
programmer works full time on the core engine.  Michael and David can devote
less than half their time to Bobby.  It is very demanding but rewarding work
there are too few hours in each day for many underfunded projects.

I do want to acknowledge that you raise valid points about responsiveness.  As
you might guess, we receive Bobby feedback, bug reports and suggestions from
every corner of the globe.  We have experienced an escalation of activity and
feedback with each new release and as the word has spread about the importance
of accessibility on the web. All of the feedback is summarized and stored in a
database for periodic review.

Our recent experience, as Bobby has become more complex and demanding of our
time and thoughtfulness, has been to do what must be done to continue
providing a free educational and evaluation service first, fix bugs as best we
can, then implement new features as time allows.  The process is not perfect.
Your feedback has been thoughtful and of value to the Bobby team but so has
that of many others.  I hope that we can be more responsive in the future.  We
are doing the best we can with the resources that are available to us.  I can
only ask for your patience and understanding.

I do suspect that you have identified an issue with a priority 1 item that
must be fixed quickly.  We intend to evaluate, or cause developers to manually
evaluate, each and every priority 1 items in the guidelines.

You raise an interesting question with regard to the discrepancy between the
number of links back to Bobby and the number of icons currently in use.  I too
have wondered what motivates a webmaster/developer to include or not include
the Bobby icon.  The following thoughts come to mind:
1. A strict interpretation of our suggested use policy would suggest that all
of a large corporate Website would have to qualify to place the icon on any
page within that site. We know that this is very difficult for some devoted
Bobby users that only control a portion of a corporate, government,
organization, or educational site.  We have mixed feelings about our own
policy since it clearly reduces the number of links back to Bobby.  Each link
informs others of the importance of accessible Websites.
2. Some webmasters are willing to do the work but seem less interested in
drawing attention to the issue if some small aspect of the site is
problematic.  We hear often from those that belong to Webrings that use server
side image maps.  The sites are 99% in compliance and we leave it to the
webmaster/developer to make the decision about using the icon.
3. Some organizations have policies in place that prohibit the use of icons
from third parties.  In some government circles, the icon is considered an
advertisement, even though Bobby is free and CAST is a not-for-profit
4. I suspect that some folks simply don't like our icon.
5. Some fear that they will not be able to keep up with periodic changes in
the evaluation and use policy.
6. Some consider it a service to include a paragraph about web accessibility
with a link to Bobby but prefer not to provide the duel purpose functionality
of an icon with embedded meaning and a link to inform others of the service.
7. A significant number of links to Bobby are part of websites that may not be
Bobby approved.  In some cases, we know that a developer will use the link to
rally the support needed to inspire superiors to allocate resources to repair
8. In other cases, a link to Bobby is included as a service on a site devoted
to disability issues but limited resources are available to repair the
existing site.
9. Links to Bobby are often included in articles about disability access but
the host site is an online newspaper or zine that has yet to address the
10. A number of sites include the icon without including the link back to
Bobby.  When this happens, we don't know about it.  Our count of the icon use
is probably low.
11. Some sites prefer to use the WBGH Web Accessibility icon.
12. Some tell us that the icon size does not look good on their page along
side other icons that may be slightly smaller.

I am sure there are many more reasons.  We want those who do use Bobby to be
proud of their effort and use the icon but we have been low key about it.  It
will be interesting to see how the WAI conformance icons are used in the
months ahead.

You may notice that we have started a Bobby Approved database as part of our
online Bobby service so that developers can be recognized for their efforts.
We are often asked about exemplar sites and we hope that these self-referred
sites will motivate others to evaluate their sites, make the necessary
improvements, and add themselves to the database.  I have already noticed
sites that do not display the icon among those that have already been added.

I am sure that Michael will be back to you shortly,

Take care,

-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org]On
Behalf Of Bruce Bailey
Sent: Thursday, May 06, 1999 11:36 AM
To: Evaluation and Repair; Michael Cooper
Subject: Re: Bobby 3.1 Released

Dear Michael et al.;

Bobby is, of course, a very good thing which only gets better and better.
I still have a few questions which I hope do not come off sounding like
sour grapes.  I will limit my comments here to things that I was fully
expecting with the official release of 3.1.  I am very disappointed that
these items have been omitted.

(1)  Could you speak to the changes that were incorporated into version 3.1
as a result of dialog on the WAI-ER-IG listserv and with the recent
teleconference calls?  I looked through the "what's new" section, but could
not attribute anything specific.

(2)  Not all Priority 1 objectives have been addressed.  Bobby STILL does
not test for unique HREFs that are linked to from images and are hidden
(from text browsers / screen readers) by ALT="".  As discussed here and on
the recent teleconference calls this problem IS covered by checkpoint 1.1
and is an easy test.  The consensus of the WAI IG on this point is clear.
Do the folks at CAST acknowledge that this is a Priority 1 item?

(3)  "Short and sweet" live links to Bobby of the form URL:
now return an error message.  This is different behavior than with Bobby 1x
which performed the expected evaluation.  This is different behavior than
with Bobby 2x which returned a (wonderfully succinct but meaningless)
"Bobby Approved" page.  Granted, Bobby was never advertised as working this
way, but why shouldn't it?  This is the way the W3C validator is designed
to work!  Is it not a basic fundamental concept in programming that, even
as your algorithms go through constant upgrades and revisions, that the
same input results in consistent output?  Since Bobby keeps behaving
differently, perhaps you should be changing its URL each time?  This would
really annoy a lot of users, but then at least you will be capturing more
of those obsolete "four stars Bobby Approved" sites!  The proper way for
3.1 to behave is to have it automatically "correct" the above sample URL

I have provided constructive feedback to CAST on and off this list (by
phone and email) for well over a year now.  No, I am not a "player" in the
WWW but I don't think that diminishes the legitimacy of the concerns that I
raise.  For the record, I have had nothing but professional and thoughtful
responses from David Clark and Michael Cooper.  The fact remains that I
have not been able to have the least bit of influence on the code that CAST
releases.  Are there others on the WAI list that, at least on an emotional
level, feel ignored by CAST?  If not here, where should we be venting our
concerns?  Or, am I alone in my "ivory tower" impression of CAST and do I
deserve to be flamed off this particular soap box?

P.S. (Maybe it's related):  Why the huge discrepancy between the sites that
link to Bobby (4800) and the sites that are "Bobby Approved" (650)?  What
does it mean when fewer than one in seven pages that think Bobby is
important enough to reference actually bother with the award icon?  Does
anyone know (or even have a guess) if the W3C validator suffers from a
similar praise:use ratio?

Thank you.

Bruce Bailey, DORS Webmaster

> From: Michael Cooper <mcooper@cast.org>
> To: [SNIP]
> Subject: Bobby 3.1 Released
> Date: Wednesday, May 05, 1999 9:29 PM
> I am happy (ecstatic, actually) to announce the public release of Bobby
> available from http://www.cast.org/bobby/. Both the server and the
> downloadable version have been updated for enhancements, bug fixes, and
> support the Web Content Guidelines that became a W3C Recommendation
> Along with the release of Bobby we have posted a new look to the Bobby
> site and enhanced material that we hope will provide greater access to
> product.
> More information will follow over the next few weeks. Please contact
> bobby@cast.org with comments or questions.
> Michael Cooper
> CAST, Inc.
> 39 Cross St.
> Peabody, MA  01960
> Tel 978-531-8555 x265
> TTY 978-538-3110
> Fax 978-531-0192
> Email mcooper@cast.org
> http://www.cast.org/
> http://www.cast.org/bobby/
Received on Friday, 7 May 1999 00:08:45 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Tuesday, 13 October 2015 16:21:04 UTC