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Re: Going The Whole Hog

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn@reef.com>
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 2001 09:04:05 -0800
Message-Id: <>
To: "Sean B. Palmer" <sean@mysterylights.com>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
At 08:29 AM 2/16/2001, Sean B. Palmer wrote:
>Something I've been meaning to rant about for some time now:

Let me throw in my two bits here -- well, as if you could stop me. :)

I agree with where you're coming from, not necessarily all of your

>Perfection in accessibility is not possible; this can quite clearly be
>gagued from the number of arguements on WAI IG.

Heh.  That's because accessibility is not a -technical- issue when
you get past tag trivia; it's a social issue, and one that deals
precisely with the _quality_ of access enjoyed by _specific people_.
Once you reach that level, yes, it's hard to have an unanimous
opinion. ;)

>Nevertheless, there has to
>be some kind of boundary about where you stop aiming for perfection, and
>instead go for adequacy.

I agree with this as long as "you" here is meant to mean "each person
or organization will make this choice" rather than "there should be
one standard applying to all of us."  You are 100% right when you
state that for each web application, someone, somewhere, will make
a conscious decision to say "enough is enough, we've done what we
need to do."

>I'd rather see 100% of WWW sites be WCAG 1.0 [1] A
>compliant, than 50% be AAA.

I agree with the sentiment although not necessary with the details,
mainly because I feel that the single-A/double-A/triple-A conformance
scheme has some bad implications, but that's another argument and
one we'll save for, oh, middle of next week or so. ;)

>If a page has no startling accessibility
>problems, then I submit that is enough for the most part, and it is better
>to concentrate your energies elsewhere, e.g. bringing a whole lot of other
>pages up to A scratch, then getting that one page up to AAA (which is
>actually an impossible level... even the text in the images of the WCAG 1.0
>AA conformance logos prevents you from using them).

Here I agree with the main sentence.

On the parenthetical, I'm not convinced that triple-A is an impossible
level, I'm just not sure if it's really a useful thing to talk about.
There are many easy-to-do things which a level 3 priority, for example,
and I think those -should- be done, regardless of whether or not
someone can hit some ideal "triple-A" standard.

>I conclude that
>validation is a science, and design is a skill, but accessibility is an art
>form - no two people agree about the best way of making something
>accessible, just as the is never agreement about what constitutes "good

Gold star to the man from the mystery lights!  We are in 100% agreement
on this statement, Sean.

>I rant about this because I am a hypocrite. I am always trying to reach the
>elusive "AAA" when I know I shouldn't be. I just can't help it, it's like a

Actually, trying for increased accessibility is always a good thing.
It's important, however, to remember that ultimately someone (meaning
"you") will have to decide how far is good enough to go.  There will
be some people who don't like your decision.  There will be some
people who applaud it.  There are decisions that I feel are obviously
wrong choices -- for example, anything less than the equivalent of
single-A is pathetic -- but everyone's got opinions.  There are
people who feel that my pages are unconscionably inaccessible.

>What this all points to is that WCAG 2.0 will require bettter rating
>systems. It is perfectly feasable that a site could be "AAA" compliant, but
>with one "A" guidline broken, and hence it wouldn't thorectically comply to
>the WCAG guidelines at all. That is clearly absurd, and needs fixing. The
>recent work done by ER IG on the Evaluation And Repair Language [2] might
>have some part to play in this, but in that case we must be careful to
>ensure that semi-automated ratings of pages are easy to come by, and
>accessible themselves.

Oh, hm, I should have read further -- maybe we _are_ having the
single-A/double-A/triple-A argument now.  However, just to ding you on
terminology real quick, there are no "single-A guidelines", there are
only priority 1, priority 2, and priority 3 guidelines.  While there
is a correlation between the A-list and priorities, it's important to
remember that checkpoints have _priorities_ not _conformance ratings_.

>Still, if accessibility is an art form, maybe we should paint a picture
>(play some music / create a sculpture) and let the whole world be the
>judge. Roll on the Annotea work then.

It's definitely a very tricky issue.  I think it's important to remember
that all of this -- the division between priority 1 and priority 2 and
priority 3, the specific conformance plans, etc. -- are all basically
arbitrary abstractions attempting to capture specific real-world
information about how people use computers, and that real world data
doesn't fall neatly into 3 absolute categories.  It's a continuum and
we've chosen to represent it by three boxes, but lines were drawn and
can very well be redrawn if necessary.


Kynn Bartlett <kynn@reef.com>
Technical Developer Liaison
Customer Management/Edapta
Reef North America
Tel +1 949-567-7006
Received on Friday, 16 February 2001 11:55:18 UTC

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