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don't go for "compliance", go for accessibility (was RE: WebCam)


From: John Foliot - bytown internet
Date: Aug 30, 2002 5:13PM

Better Late Than Never Dept.

Paul Bohman wrote:
> And as for the Section 508 requirement and or WAI requirement is
> sometimes you have to look beyond the guidelines just a bit. The
> are there for a reason, but sometimes you just have to say "my solution
> is better." So if providing a text equivalent is the best solution for
> situation, don't go for "compliance", go for accessibility.

Ah but that it were so simple.

Many developers within government organizations around the world don't have
that luxury... they must adhere to "Standards", no matter how vague or
difficult they may be. This is one of the major flaws in the current WCAG
Priority 1,2,3 checkpoints... they were written as guides, not standards.
Yet in many territories (Canada is certainly one of them), these Guidelines
have been given the weight (and legal responsibility) of Standards - "too
bad, so sad - deal with it". Canadian Federal developers must adhere to all
of the Priority 1 and 2 checkpoints for compliance, despite the fact that
they can be vague to confusing at the best of times.

In the US, they looked at checkpoints such as #7.1 "Until user agents allow
users to control flickering, avoid causing the screen to flicker" and
realized that this was just too vague... after all, what is "flicker"? The
dancing mailbox animated gif? DHTML "actions" which, using a poor or older
video card, could in fact cause a screen to "flicker"? So Section 508
addressed this point with a measurable value; "(j) Pages shall be designed
to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz
and lower than 55 Hz."

Granted, the problem in part is with government policy authors who took the
slacker's way out, and rather than attempting to grok the situation opted to
have the W3C lead the way. But the W3C is now in a position where the next
iteration of the WCAG needs to be precise and definitive... avoiding the
vagaries of the original, if for no other reason in that governments have
abdicated the responsibility to the W3C. While I'm guilty of not
contributing to the any of the discussions of the workgroup at the Web
Accessibility Initiative, I can only hope that they have discussed this
point and are looking to address it within the language of the next release.
I have quickly looked at the new draft and don't see any glaring issues, but
that's just been a quick glance...

Meanwhile, while I share Paul's sentiment and general perspective, I counsel
all to be very careful when opting to ignore the guidlelines, no matter what
the reason.


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