03 May 2001 - WCAG 2.0 Telecon

Minutes taken by Loretta Guarino Reid. (Thanks again, Loretta!)

In Attendance:



Action Items:

CMN: Come up with a proposal for asserting cognitive level conformance claim in metadata in EARL assertion form. Minimum requirement level?

CMN and WL: Make the dark things clear. Put on the table examples of things to do that would hurt and help users (and why). Outline what can be done, what is needed. Then we can look at these and see if we can pull out patterns, or common threads that can be expressed as requirements.

Usability and/or Accessibility:

GV: Wendy, Jason, and I have been talking in preparation for the meeting. We seem to be wrestling with a compound issue: accessibility vs usability, and cognitive disability gets in there, too. We want to get people's thoughts. In summary: a comment was made there are accessibility issues relating to sensory disabilities, and everything else is a usability issue. It seems very hard to draw the line between them. What if you can get your hands on the information but you can't comprehend it? For instance, what if a site is coded in ascii text in Swahili. Most of us couldn't use it. Is that really an accessiblity issue? Usability addresses cases where you can get the information and use it, but you can't use it very well. This threshhold can be different for every person. What one person finds hard, another will find impossible. Also the old bugabo: you can make pages that are usable across the whole range of sight limitations or hearing limitations or physical limitations, but not the whole range of cognitive limitations. Of course, there are always limits in these first cass. We can't really make a symphony accessible to someone who is deaf. Cognitive is always this special case. We can talk about things that will facilitate understanding, but it doesn't go that far. If we require sites to be accessible cognitively, you'd have to rewrite a site 6 or 7 times and you'll lose significant amounts of information each time.

KHS: It doesn't make sense to go that far.

GV: Then we would make things accessible to the blind, but not to the cognitively disabled. Because that problem is qualitatively a different animal.

KHS: SHould we remove the requirement for cognitive disabilities?

GV: That's what the Access Board did.

KHS: But the Access Board is not us; what do we want to do?

GV: If we are going to provide limited support, how far will we go?

JW: Let the author go as far as he wants, and make a claim about it.

GV: We'll make no requirements except that author discloses the cognitive level?

JW: That is what we do for other disabilities.

GV: No it isn't. We have requirements that you have to meet in order to claim compliance.

JW: With the new RDF you can make claims for each checkpoint individually. You don't have to satisfy any set of them.

GV: With RDF, you still have to satisfy a set to put a sticker on for Level A.

WL: You can still make assertions in RDF.

JW: e.g. you can make an assertion that you satisfy one checkpoint.

GV: We don't want authors doing that.

JW: There is a rationale that there should be a certain set satisfied to make a claim, but let's save this for another time. Beyond the minimum requirements for level A compliance, it is all a matter of disclosing what more you have achieved.

GV: And each of those is binary, that is, either you satisfy it or you don't. And there would be no such requirements for cognitive disabilities? I'm not suggesting there be none, just saying that if all the others are binary, for cognitive disabilities you have to qualify your claim: "This works for cognitive level up to such-and-such". Otherwise we all have a zero, because we all fail for someone with some level of cognitive disability. On cognitive ground, we have to say we give up.

JW: This is asserting some kind of cognitive rating. Can this be done in a meaningful way?

GV: But we wouldn't require any particular level of support. This would result in no cognitive in requirements, only disclosures.

JW: I'm just suggesting this as a mechanism

GR: if you are claiming compliance for using language that is appropriate, you must document "appropriate"

JW: Is it possible to require anything of that kind for websites in general? This gets back to problem of highly specialized, complex material.

GR: When it comes down to real life cases, what is appropriate is whatever is legally required. A University site can claim that it only need to satisfy the cognitive level requirements for entrance to the university. It will be a content and context related judgment.

JW: This is my reason for suggesting there is a problem in requiring that a site be cognitively accessible. A general requirement doesn't take context into account.

KHS: Do we have a cognitive requirement?

WL: I find "requirement" disturbing. I don't think we require anything.

GV: We always have to think in terms of hard requirements. Countries are taking our guidelines and adopting them. If we say this is their problem, not ours, we are saying they need to change our wording. Whatever problems we leave in, they must take out. But W3C has gone on record against modifications to our specs.

KHS: Hard requirements are also important for machine checkability.

WL: You can verify whether there are alt tags, but that doesn't make it a requirement.

KHS: All things we do have to be measurable.

GV: I'm not sure they have to be machine measurable.

KHS: They have to be if we want them to be automatable.

GV: Automtation facilitates a lot of things. But even if the requirements are not automatable, if they can be objective, it would be good. (So everyone can agree if they have been satisfied)

JW: We have a range of options regarding cognitive.

WL: In 1933 I clearly remember something like 20 as the number of people in the world who understood the General and Special Theory of Relativity. Making it so a million people could understand it would be out of the question This is a parallel to what Greg is trying to say.

JW: An interesting question: if something is a matter of accessibility rather than usability, then the solution must make a difference for someone who has that cognitive disability. It could only be an accessibility requirement when you can demonstrate that some group with an identifiable cognitive disability would be able to understand it with the requirement met but they wouldn't be able to understand it otherwise. One needs to make a distinction between cases where it would help and those where you can make it easier to understand but the page would still be beyond the reach of that group. Most people aren't in a good position to judge this. If a disability just affects reading, like dislexia, does that come within the set of cognitive disabilities?

GV: People who have learning disabilities say there are cognitive, language, and learning disabilities, and that they are all different. Like low vision and blindness are different disabilities. You'll get a lot of pushback if you group learning disabilities under cognitive disabilities.

JW: Maybe we do need to develop those distinctions, since the solutions for those categories are likely to be different.

WL: Some of those things can demonstrably be helped. That's the point Anne has been making. Illustrations can help for a class of disabilities

GV: Those with reading disabilities?

WL: Her husband has a condiiton where he can read, but without illustations he can't get through a site. Picture books vs chapter books

JW: There might be certain types of contents where you can simplify or add illustrations wthout losing the meaning, whether or not this makes the content accessible to people with different cognitive disabilities. You'll only be required when it will make a different for someone with a documented disability. This is a diffult distinction for a non-specialist to make. It is a consequence of applying the accessibility vs usability distincton.

WL: There is heavy insistence that is does help, and it has taken me a while to come around to that side.

JW: I'm not yet on that side. It depend so the context.

WL: Does Gregory think that the presence of illustrations could be used to overcome problems at priority level 1

JW: This is just one of the techniques for improving the comprehension. One among a range of techniques. How are we going to deal with these in the guidelines? As part of a priority scheme? with conformance requirements? Where? When are they accessibility issues (vs usability)? Do we want to make that distinction. These are the questions that have been raised. We solicit opinions and suggestions. Gregg's argument was that any strategy used for cognitive disabilities (language, consistency, color distinctions, illustrations, speech) can make a difference for a certain group of people between accessibility and inaccessibility.

WL: the question has been raised as to whether illustrations qualify as a priority 1 sort of thing. That is, there are people, regardless of the name of the disability, who can't deal with pure text. They must have illustrations.

GV: Is this a widespread category? Although it goes against our basic principles, in our guidelines we have also had do deal with practicality issues. With other disabilities, we talk about techniques that don't change the appearance of the page. Alt text, labels on tables, using things properly, etc. The cognitive suggestions are quite different. They change the appearance of sites significantly to everyone (not just those who need it). Is AltPict needed?

WL: AltPict is what I am opting for. Supplementary picture

GV: Some that would accompany text, but could be refused.

JW: Every image and audio file is refusable anyway

GV: The mass market gets "regular" picture, but people could request addition illustrations.

JW: There are many strategies related to cognitive disabilities. Any one could make a difference to certain groups of people. Gregg argued that that means each becomes a priority 1 under some set of circumstances.

CMN: People are building interfaces where adapting content to each person is a fairly standing practice.

MM: The presentation adapts itself, but the content is either the same or written in an inverted pyramid style so you can chop it off at some level and still have the remaining content fit together. How appropriate is the content to the audience? The content is as important as the producer and recipient. There needs to be something that says for all content X, X + images is better than X withouth images. Rules like that could end up in the guidelines. People have issues with creating hard and fast rules if you put something in where you don't give content producer some way of saying what I've done is better than what I had before because it satisfies the guidelines.

GV: Didn't quite get that.

MM: The concern is that the content itself has to be figured in. Rules have to be contextual. If you are looking at a document to decide whether to comply with this or not, if you aren't sure you can actually help with this particular content, it makes it harder to embrace this goal.

JW: What do we think of this idea: the responsibility should be that the cognitive demands of the content be exposed in the content.

KHS: I think it should.

GR: It should be.

WL: What is the technique for doing this?

KHS: Tagging in metadata

WL: With what? Third grade reading level? Requires college education?

KHS: It will be left up to what is used in educational circles.

JW: Assuming it is technically feasable, reliable, and useful, we appear to have agreement on disclosure requirement for cognitive demands at some priority level

GV: There isn't clearly a way to do this. In talking with folks familiar with those levels, they are suspect

WL: Also printed on toys

MM: We can't reliably say that this site is comprehensible by X. We must say it is intended for X level.

GV: A concern I have is people just labeling: this site is intended for people who can see", etc.

KHS: They can't do this if they follow the other guidelines.

CMN: Even if they are suspect, they aren't useless. This doesn't seem like a remarkably difficult thing to do. This won't fix everything for everyone.

GV: We are just saying to describe the level, not fix problems for the cognitively disabled.

CMN: That would be appalling, but you should at least describe.

GR:The requirement is to use appropriate language; you must also document what criteria you have used. Yes, it will be subjective, but people will have to address and provide explanation about criteria

JW: Someone opposing this would argue that a requirement to document is difficult because:

I don't necessariily agree with these arguments, but want to put these forward.

AP: The suggestion to document the intended audience, is that in metadata or separately documented?

CMN: I will take an action item to document the use of metadata for this. The first objection is specious. Providing this is less work than providing alt text

JW: Gregg suggests it goes beyond that

CMN: I don't think it does.

GR: I would love it if people used EARL. Metadata is sufficient. We envision ways of extracting metadata for something useful

CMN: Best practice may go beyond this, but minimal requirements should be automatable and reasonably trivial to do.

JW: It could be highly misleading if the measure is inappropriate or unhelpful. Second question : if we what an assertion of cognitive level included, what else should be a requirement in the cognitive area.

CMN: Maintain the simple language requirement, the requirement for increasing the use of multi-media. The requirement for consistency aids this area.

WL: Just the requirement to document the cognitive level will be a huge step forward

JW: Should there be anything beyond that?

KHS: Are we including 3.3?

CMN: We should also require cognitive support, not just document it.

JW: That is the question. What about the issues Gregg has raised about context-dependent issues, that we can't reach everyone, that lines need to be drawn, etc.

CMN: These are bold assertions.

GV: We need to come back to not "what would be helpful" but what can we do? What goes into requirements (ought to be a law)? what goes into usability (encouraged, but not required)? what goes into techniques for targeting this audience specifically (could be techniques for item 2; but want to regroup by disability). The third item is fuzzy because W3C is doing standards, not guidelines for specialized sites. If we start mixing these goals, we risk confusing people and losing ground on other items. The longer our guidelines, the less effective they will be. Can we stay lean and mean? But I don't like that cognitive disabilities is on the edge, so lean and mean pushes them off that edge.

WL: Most of this is in guideline 3, right?

KHS: We did some rewording of 3.

CMN: I want to talk about actual checkpoint proposals, rather than hypothetical guidelines. We should write down text about what to do, who is helps and hurts.

JW: The problem is that it is not really feasible to put down criteria for these requirements. We can't say what should be required for all content. That's the problem we are dealing with. Which leads to the question of status of requirements. Are they the same, or dealt with in conformance differently?

CMN: We have been trying a top down approach to deciding whether to solve cognitive disability problems. I suggest we try a bottom up approach. Put the techniqes on the table. Outline what can be done, what is needed. Then we can look at these and see if we can pull out patterns, or common threads that can be expressed as requirements.

JW: Who wants this action item

CMN, WL: take action

JW: Any more ideas on how to deal with these kinds of requirements?

JW: To summarize, there is a general preference for the disclosure of cognitive level. Beyond that we don't have consensus.

GV: I'm not sure where the discolure goes. There is some feeling that something is needed besides just disclosure.

Next Meeting:

Thursday, May 10th, 2001 @ the usual time. (20 hours UTC (+1-617-252-1038))

$Katie Haritos-Shea 05-03-2001$