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Re: We should fix this Re: Level AA exceptions

From: Joshue O Connor <josh@interaccess.ie>
Date: Sat, 15 Aug 2015 09:20:16 +0100
Message-ID: <55CEF640.2090104@interaccess.ie>
To: Chaals McCathie Nevile <chaals@yandex-team.ru>
CC: 'Phill Jenkins' <pjenkins@us.ibm.com>, 'GLWAI Guidelines WG org' <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>, 'IG - WAI Interest Group List list' <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Chaals McCathie Nevile wrote:
> TL;DR: Multiple factors for giving success criteria a level, without 
> documenting the decision rationale, causes a problem. We should fix that. 
Agreed, and we are working in various task forces to address this. COGA 
are working on user requirements for cognitive for example. As has been 
documented in this thread - the various SCs were allocated a place based 
on working group consensus. How that consensus was arrived is now 
historical and the minutia largely lost.

To play devils advocate, the W3C process may also need to change - so in 
time we don't replicate the same series of problems with a different set 
of players. Andrew and I are certainly open to ideas on how to do this, 
create better engagement with new expertise, more effective decision 
making processes etc.

> 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.
Yes, and we have a dedicated hard core set of members who do stuff. We 
have many members who could certainly be more active and we are working 
on lowering the barriers to entry and engagement. The same old story is 
that everyone is swamped etc, so we need to be more efficient from our 
side. Streamlining W3C process, our tools and decision making processes 
etc to accommodate new comers who can't/won't attend calls or and don't 
have months and months to stick around while we work stuff, would be a 
big help.

> 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. 

I think that is an excellent point. Much perceived weakness is stated in 
an abstract way but still seems to be felt keenly.

> 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.
We have considered a WCAG for different audiences (*caveat* I'm talking 
about chair discussion and this is not an announcement - core WCAG 2.0 
is stable etc) - for example, rather than having a one size fits all 
canon of supporting docs, we could have WCAG for policy makers, WCAG for 
developers - whatever is needed. To present more manageable chunks of 
tailored content to separate audiences, depending on their needs. 
Simpler, more focused, more relevant.

> 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".
It's not irrelevant. Due to the nature of W3C process at that time, 
trying now to understand how people thought then is even more important 
now, but much more difficult. IMO, if we don't change how we come to any 
given decision (by adding more documentation, clearer requirements 
gathering methodologies, better asynchronous decision making that 
provides a historic thread) - then I fear we will be repeating the same 
discussion in 10 years. Or another chair will.. it won't be me.

> 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. 

Agreed, but it has. My view is that there are 'core accessibility 
requirements' that don't really change even if the technologies and 
platforms do. For example, keyboard a11y. That has a mapping with the 
mobile space, basic IO devices like switches etc. Touch devices build on 
that. The core needs of people with disabilities don't really change 
that much just how we get there when building accessible UIs and the 
tools/techniques we use.

> 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. 
True, and we have to accommodate that.

> 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). 

We have internal working group sense of what that may be. We have a pool 
of experts with great experience to draw on. It could be argued that 
that doesn't get us into a more robust set of user requirements, if 
these levels of importance are decided by working group consensus. That 
is the same process for consensus that we decry!

So maybe that process isn't so bad after all? *grin.

> 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. 
Part of that is happening now. In COGA, for example, and if you are 
asking for a WCAG document that outlines what SC is good for what 
group/disability type - with a mapping across groups, then that is a 
good idea.

On a slightly separate but related note, we are aware of the need to map 
any techniques produced by TFs - that span multiple disability 
groups/types also. 1) so as not to duplicate work/efforts 2) it will 
build a more robust ecosystem of techniques.

> 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). 
Work is being done, but we cannot just talk about WCAG in isolation 
anymore IMO. There are links with UAAG for example where the platforms 
'out of the box' can really support authors and users by having platform 
level features that can help produce a more accessible and inclusive 
user experience, even in the absence of good code - or even good design.

> 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‚EUR¶
I'm sure you can appreciate just how difficult that is. Another issue is 
that at the moment we can only say that the current WCAG SC hierarchy 
determines web content accessibility conformance only to these levels. 
This was determined by working group consensus but perceived by the 
wider world as somewhat arbitrary  - though we know that it is not.  
However, even the 'level' system is not an indication of how accessible 
that content actually is. It determines only how that content conforms 
to WCAG.

Do we need another system? Would it be more robust? Maybe. Currently 
would the process to determine that new system be largely the same? Yes.


Received on Saturday, 15 August 2015 08:21:05 UTC

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