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Re: Well formed verses Valid code


From: John Foliot - Stanford Online Accessibility Program
Date: Feb 26, 2007 3:30PM

Andrew Kirkpatrick wrote:
> I have yet to see an issue where
> the code is so mangled that it impacts the way assistive technologies
> render the content but that doesn't affect the visual rendering for
> sighted users. I agree that valid code should be a policy, just not
> an accessibility policy.

Some thoughts:

1. Universal Accessibility should be (is!) about more than just adaptive
technologies (Past, Present or Future) - I always thought the goal was that
our content would render for *all* technologies - we're not building cars
for the information highway, we're supplying the fuel. You can drive any
vehicle you want, but the fuel I dispense will always be "pure" (valid).
Valid code, as Norman Robinson pointed out, returns the responsibility to
the user agents to process the information correctly to the end user - and
this includes but is not limited to Adaptive Technology (which can assist
users who do not fall into the "sighted" or "not-sighted" category). I've
seen code that rendered fine on screen, that read fine to screen readers,
but was functionally "broken" simply due to invalid code (I'm thinking of
some .net crap that only works in IE browsers - I have no current or
specific examples). If we (or at least I) keep talking about Universal
Accessibility, but continually return back to Adaptive Technology "quirks"
(or lack of), it somehow dilutes the message to me. It's almost a reverse

2. Accessibility should be part of "The Policy" (full stop). That same
policy should also include requirements for valid code, and can include
other requirements as well - I spent a fair bit of time working within the
Canadian Government's Common Look and Feel policy, which included
accessibility, but spoke to much more, including the fact that Canada is an
officially bilingual country (along with all that this entails), and other
related items (email auto-responders for example - their usage, structure,
etc.). I am troubled that we again want to marginalize "accessibility" and
speak about specifics regarding Adaptive Technology - yet at the same time
we preach that Universal Accessibility is foundational, and not something
that you bolt on at the end of the day.

Which is it?

Just my $0.02