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html5 and the User Agent

From: Simon Harper <simon.harper@manchester.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 28 Jul 2009 17:47:44 +0100
Message-Id: <F34378B8-1CCB-4BD1-98F2-DA53559FBAE1@manchester.ac.uk>
To: UAWG list <w3c-wai-ua@w3.org>
This note was created while looking at the html5 canvas spec. and  
discussion from the Paciello Group http://www.paciellogroup.com/blog/? 
p=362, among others. I must also say that I'm not a big fan of html5  
in its current format.

Now, Steve Faulkner has lots of good suggestions for enabling  
accessibility, however, I think that while these may be implemented  
in html5 there is, of course, no compulsion that they are used. It  
seems to me that his may come down to understanding what is an  
application (ie software) and where responsibility lays. I mean this,  
not in the context of our guidelines but in the context of the legal  
frame work of the USA - specifically, 1194.21   Software applications  
and operating systems, of the Electronic and Information Technology  
Accessibility Standards (Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act), and  
their relationship to the Federal Acquisition Regulations.

It seems to me that if an html5 canvas which is designed as a Web  
Application with an interface (or has interface properties) and is  
linked to JavaScript (or whatever) functionality then it is software  
- not content. Therefore, if the platform (the user agent) does not  
support the ability of that software to be accessible people will not  
write for that platform because it cannot be delivered / purchased  
without breaking Federal Acquisition Regulations. In addition, if the  
platform does support this accessibility but the delivered canvas and  
programmatic functionality do not make use of it, again FAR is  
contravened, and the 'software' is not usable within a US Government  

Now I may be wrong on parts of this due to the legal aspects of the  
US law that I cannot derive from the legislation, but I think this  
makes our definition of user agent as software and user agent as  
platform / operating systems really important.



Simon Harper
University of Manchester (UK)

Human Centred Web Lab: http://hcw.cs.manchester.ac.uk

My Site: http://hcw.cs.manchester.ac.uk/people/harper/

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Received on Tuesday, 28 July 2009 16:48:20 UTC

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