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We should fix this Re: Level AA exceptions

From: Chaals McCathie Nevile <chaals@yandex-team.ru>
Date: Sat, 15 Aug 2015 09:00:51 +0200
Cc: "'GLWAI Guidelines WG org'" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>, "'IG - WAI Interest Group List list'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
To: "'Phill Jenkins'" <pjenkins@us.ibm.com>
Message-ID: <op.x3edr8mns7agh9@>
TL;DR: Multiple factors for giving success criteria a level, without  
documenting the decision rationale, causes a problem. We should fix that.

I suggest that part of the long-term fix (which would be WCAG 3, rather  
than an edited version of WCAG 2 which may or may not be worth doing  
meanwhile) is to reduce the number of factors.

More details after the recap of discussion…

On Fri, 14 Aug 2015 21:39:52 +0200, Katie Haritos-Shea GMAIL
<ryladog@gmail.com> wrote:

> From: Phill Jenkins [mailto:pjenkins@us.ibm.com]Sent: Friday, August 14,

>> Gregg Vanderheiden wrote:
[…setting level decided on a balance of factors including how important  
something is, whether it can be applied to all sites, and how hard that  
is… it is not true that all essential requirements are level A, and level  
AA requirements can be considered strictly less important…]
>>> Hope this helps
>> Sure, but mostly what I already posted.  What's missing is the  
>> documented rationale for why an individual particular SC is considered  
>> Level AA.  We have all the "possible" factors, being 'Essential" was  
>> indeed one of the factors, But we don't have documented which of the  
>> many possible factors were considered for this particular SC. Yes we  
>> know in general that all these factors may have been considered for all  
>> the SC.  but, For example, again,
>>       Why was SC 1.4.3 Contrast Minimum assigned AA?

> KHS: I do not recall why this was delegated to AA.

>>       Why was SC 2.4.7 Focus Visible assigned AA?

> KHS: It is my recollection that this SC was placed at Level AAbecause of  
> the default browser behavior (I am one who lobbied for
> it to be at Level A) – as you suggest Phill.

>> Many feel it is essential, but mostly handled by the browser, is that  
>> why?  where is that written?

> KHS: I suspect you could find it in the minutes, I am not sure it
> was officially documented other than meeting minutes.
>> Again, is having a synopsis of the rationale for why each individual  
>> particular SC was assigned Level AA of value to everyone on this list?

> KHS: All I can say is it made sense via consensus to the group of people  
> who were active in the Working Group – and those who provided review and  
> feedback – at that time in history based on the technology as we knew it  
> then.

I think this last statement is an accurate summary of how we got to where  
we are.

This was done about a decade ago, and the Web has changed.

We have (and I believe will always have) a hard time getting enough  
knowledge into the group - particular issues seem to be that we lacked  
sufficient strength in dealing with various "cognitive accessibility"  
issues, some low vision issues, we certainly have a strong bias towards  
english-speaking countries and their most familiar neighbours, and so on.

And a decade after the people in the room made their best effort, others  
are trying to use that work, with its known and unknown but mostly  
unstated weaknesses, to build requirements.

For those people - whether they are governments writing regulations as in  
Section 508, or companies producing internal policies for their developers  
(which is more relevant to my case), understanding the importance of a  
given success criteria to people with disabilities is critical.

Knowing what a group of people thought ten years ago about how applicable  
this was to websites in general, is almost irrelevant except to understand  
why something seems to have a "lower priority" level than it "should".

In the same way, knowing what we thought ten years ago about how hard  
something is doesn't have a lot of direct relevance to what should be  
required in a given situation now. Different users basing requirements on  
WCAG will have very different approaches to what is a "reasonable effort",  
and in any case there are genuinely different technologies and solutions  
available now.

It would be very valuable to document for WCAG how important each success  
criterion is to whom (sometimes there are different levels of importance  
for different user groups, as Gregg already noted).

The WCAG working group *should* do that work - it is one of the most  
important ways that WAI can help policy-makers at all levels, who are one  
key audience of our work.

WCAG 2.0 has not been updated for a long time, and it seems that pattern  
will continue (it was the same for WCAG 1). Providing some guidance for  
people to decide where to focus their efforts first is valuable. I think  
an important lesson is that we need to explain very clearly why each  
requirement is there and how it got assigned a particular "level", so  
people making downstream decisions 7 years later can judge whether they  
are adopting something important, something that got overtaken by  
technology development, or what…



Charles McCathie Nevile - web standards - CTO Office, Yandex
    chaals@yandex-team.ru - - - Find more at http://yandex.com
Received on Saturday, 15 August 2015 07:04:24 UTC

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