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Re: Standards Body


From: John Foliot - WATS.ca
Date: Oct 26, 2004 11:37AM

jkorpela wrote:
> On Tue, 26 Oct 2004, foliot wrote:
>> 1) The "Standard" for HTML is actually a Joint Statement from both
>> the ISO and the IEC
> No, it's not the "Standard" but the standard. The only one.
> And it's an
> uninteresting and widely unknown standard, as standards often are.
> But why discuss about HTML standards and "standards"?

Because you asserted that the W3C is not a Standards Body - a claim I
fundamentally disagree with. They are the defacto standards body... ISO
essentially rubber stamps work that comes out of the W3C.

> If you go along such lines, you should also call Microsoft
> and other major
> companies Standards Bodies, shouldn't you?

To an extent, yes. Someone who claims to be MSCE, has completed the
proscribed courses and testing applied by their author (and by extension
Standards Creator) - Microsoft. Their specs, their code, their rules, their
title. Do what is required, and you have the right to claim you are MSCE.

> WCAG 1.0 is not a standard-like document in content and
> essence, no matter
> what its formal status is

No argument here. I am on record many, many times as stating such. I have
also written about the need to have accountability in compliance testing, as
I too agree that the numerous icons (Bobby, et al) are alone, nothing more
than a waste of bandwidth

> If you try to make different people evaluate a page against WCAG 1.0,
> then, if those people understand WCAG 1.0 at least minimally, you will
> have endless talk about compliance or non-compliance. And not just
> arguments but reasoned arguments. This is what we should
> expect when we
> have a set of recommendations, not a standard.

As this list and others amply illustrate.

We are on the same page here. The greater problem is that the W3C have been
thrust into the role of needing to provide a measurable set of standards, to
a topic which cannot be measured as such. We all know this, and it's a
Catch-22 for the W3C as they rightly know that they can never author such a
document. However, from a legal perspective, large organizations and
governments have a civil rights need to provide a level of compliancy - and
most take the easy way out and point to the "experts/standards" people.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the W3C refuse to be acknowledged as
a Standards Body? While Section 508 is flawed and (IMHO) why too
simplistic, at least the US Government took it upon themselves to author an
internal standard, in the language of standards (measurable results to
defined outcomes).

WCAG 2.0, as a best practices document may eventually be useful, but it will
never succeed in being a standards document. The W3C must create a
Standards document, albeit one which will be flawed in addressing all
aspects of Universal Web Accessibility, but one which can be measured,
tested (preferably machine tested) and documented. Then, organizations
which *NEED* to have a measured compliancy level will have such a document.
This foreseen document would require the appropriate disclaimer and outline
it's shortcomings as part of it's statement, but at least would exist as an
independent, 3rd party standard which can be referenced to. Not perfect, but
better... (and way better than what we have now)

Why the WAI have let EARL languish in the sidelines continues to be a
mystery to me - it, more than anything else, may be the way to extract
themselves from this quagmire - associating an ascertation document to a
page shifts the burden of proof (and responsibility) to the actual
developer/tester, and away from the need to have a shopping list of
ambiguous checkpoints and undefined standards all wrapped up with a tiny
little icon of a British Traffic cop with a wheelchair on his head.

Web Accessibility Specialist / Co-founder of WATS.ca
Web Accessibility Testing and Services
http://www.wats.ca 1.866.932.4878 (North America)