Joe Clark has kindly responded to some the many questions I raised in my last article. Specifically, he responded to the issues of validation, the baseline, multimedia; abbreviations, jargon and pronunciation, and the WCAG Samurai. I still donâ€™t fully agree with him regarding validity, though I fully understand and accept his point of view. He has satisfactorily responded to the issues regarding multimedia and full-text alternatives, but I still have some questions about the baseline. Before I discuss these issues further, thereâ€™s just one thing Iâ€™d like to clear up.
Joe seemed to be quite offended by one small statement I made at the beginning: â€œâ€¦ his movement against the WCAG Working Group.â€ As he first commented in my article and then later published on his blog, heâ€™s not against the whole working group and Iâ€™d like to apologise for suggesting that he was.
However, Iâ€™m not sure why he was so offended by me calling his work, in particular, the WCAG Samurai, a â€œmovementâ€:
I can barely get the ragtag handful of standardistas in this city together once a month for drinks, let alone run a â€œmovement.â€
I thought the WCAG Samurai seemed to fit the definition of â€œan organized effort by supporters of a common goalâ€. But regardless of that, I sincerely apologise if this is not the case.
[â€¦] If your baseline is set too high, users will have â€œrecourse to complain that your site is inaccessible to them.â€
Sadly, no. The user has no say in the baseline designation at all.
I donâ€™t think the user needs to have a say in the baseline designation in order to complain about inaccessibility. Regardless of what the baseline says, if a user canâ€™t access part of the site for whatever reason, there is nothing to stop them complaining to the organisation about it (unless they canâ€™t even access the contact information). Organisations do have some, at least moral, responsibly towards their users and/or customers to produce content that suits their, and their userâ€™s, particular needs.
However, Iâ€™d like to get some clarification on what exactly the problem is with the baseline. Joeâ€™s statements about it being possible to make technologies other than plain HTML, CSS and JS accessible are very well known. Such technologies include tagged PDFs and captioned/audio described videos; but all of a sudden thereâ€™s something inherently wrong with a baseline statement that says you require support for PDF or support for MPEG and SMIL.
In response to Bruce Maguireâ€™s claims that PDF is inaccessible because:
[â€¦] the resulting document will only be accessible to those people who have the required software and the skills to use it. [â€¦] Requiring a user to upgrade to this extent in order to read a standard document is like designing Web content presentation in such a way that most people will have to buy a new computer in order to read it. [â€¦] In any case, some of the PDAs used by blind people have no facilities for accessing PDF filesâ€:
- Itâ€™s not like PDFs are the only item on your computer for which you require software and skills. You require both of those to surf the web and use HTML pages.
- â€œPDAs used by blind peopleâ€ need to be upgraded if they donâ€™t understand PDF. Essentially, this objection boils down to â€œif it doesnâ€™t work with what Iâ€™ve already got, it doesnâ€™t work, period.â€ I guess time does not march on for these people. In that case, I hope youâ€™re enjoying HTML 2.0 and your Geocities homepage.
So, Iâ€™m confused. I I understand these two points of view correctly, they seem to be conflicting:
- You canâ€™t require support for some technologies (i.e. no baselines)
- Many technologies can be made accessible and users are just required to have appropriate software. In such cases, you donâ€™t have to make an equivalent in another format (e.g. You donâ€™t necessarily require an HTML alternative for PDF and so-called full-text alternatives for multimedia are apparently a joke)
Any clarification on this issue would greatly appreciated.