EPUB 3 Working Group A11y Telco — Minutes

Date: 2021-09-09

See also the Agenda and the IRC Log


Present: Avneesh Singh, George Kerscher, Wendy Reid, Matthew Chan, Deborah Kaplan, Will Awad, Gregorio Pellegrino, Charles LaPierre, Tzviya Siegman, John Foliot



Chair: Avneesh Singh

Scribe(s): Matthew Chan


1. Is 0 tolerance for accessibility conformance practical? (pr epub-specs#1767)

See github pull request #1767.

Avneesh Singh: mgarrish has done a lot of work in PRs
… we had a lot of discussion on WCAG zero-tolerance. We’ve decided on an option to address this in an editor’s meeting last week

Matt Garrish: this is to address almost-conformance. We’re not trying to create something new. Rather have publishers be able to provide a disclaimer that says they did their best, but there could still be minor imperfections
… this PR adds disclaimer property. Nothing similar already exists in Schema.org
… this will not be a requirement for publisher to use this. Only an option

Avneesh Singh: backwards compatibility was important to us in picking this solution. And minimizing disruption to existing workflows

Will Awad: q

Will Awad: is this disclaimer different from the a11y statement that a publisher would put on their website?

Avneesh Singh: this would be in the epub metadata

Matt Garrish: the reality is that things slip through when a11y conformance is a combination of machine and human checking
… so publisher is saying that to the best of their ability the epub meets the standard they are claiming

Will Awad: so will it be a failure of conformance if they leave out disclaimer?

Charles LaPierre: so you have a conformance statement. But what we’re doing in addition to a11y summary statement is to have a more formal disclaimer property that publisher can add
… for Benetech certification conformance is the same, but this will be one more thing that certified publishers can put in their epubs (to mitigate liability, etc.)

John Foliot: so the statement says that the epub is WCAG compliant, but then the disclaimer says “not really”?

George Kerscher: when I contacted Bruce Bailey from 508 access board I asked about this
… and in 508 the standard is black and white as well
… he said if you look hard enough, you will be able to find some defect
… but the industry has come to peace with this issue and don’t have any problems with that
… our disclaimer says exactly that, and no more

Charles LaPierre: and we also have to be backwards compatibility with existing epubs, which this solution is

John Foliot: but the statement and the disclaimer are contradictory right? So at what point are there too many non-compliances?

Matt Garrish: not sure that there is a contradiction. But disclaimer acknowledges that we live in an imperfect world.
… and it creates an avenue for reporting when incidents of non-compliance are found

John Foliot: I understand, but, I still think that the disclaimer is contradictory. WCAG is explicit in that it requires 100% perfection.
… WCAG3 will acknowledge this issue of 100% compliance or nothing
… but right now, I’m concerned that in the real world a lot of organizations won’t put in the work to do a11y compliance anymore

Tzviya Siegman: my concern is that a disclaimer like this doesn’t accomplish anything. If the point is to make sure that publishers are covered legally, I’m not sure this does it
… i’d have to check with out legal team to see if something like this is useful
… and if not, then I don’t see what the purpose of this is

John Foliot: +1 Tzviya

Charles LaPierre: the disclaimer adds credibility for publishers that choose to go out and get 3rd party certification

Matt Garrish: if you don’t disclaim it, you still have a false claim
… if we don’t have anything, are we any better off?

John Foliot: part of the answer is how we apply the metadata. One way is to ref to a URL. And the other is using a meta-element that is a text field.
… 2nd way i think is a path towards a more accurate statement
… from a legal perspective VPATs have a ability to say partially supports

Tzviya Siegman: part of my concern is that the document doesn’t say how to use this
… maybe if you want to say “epub is WCAG compliant except for this particular criteria in this particular circumstance”
… seems like there is a lot of wiggle room here

George Kerscher: if JF and tzviya think this disclaimer does nothing, maybe we should get rid of it and leave things they way they have been. There are a lot of documents out there that are reporting WCAG AA, companies that sell to universities that claim WCAG AA, and if you look close enough you’ll find that many of those are incorrect statements
… the industry has come to terms with this, and maybe its not up to us to solve it

Wendy Reid: second tzviya that we should be clear about what is allowed
… but i think this has value particularly in the retail space. When retailers start to display a11y metadata, the disclaimer is going to be important to both retailers and users. Users should be made aware of that before it gets escalated to a customer care call.
… retailer gets accused to having a problem when the issue is in the epub
… this is already happening, and we don’t even display a11y metadata yet
… this gives users as much information as possible
… not just a legal issue, but empowers users to know what they are purchasing

Avneesh Singh: one option for doing this is to include such information in the a11y summary

Gregorio Pellegrino: we have to define what it means to strive for WCAG AA if, for example, there is something in your document that don’t meet WCAG A

Matt Garrish: i pictured this mostly being used for errors that slip though, where nobody could have caught it
… once we get to partial conformance you’re not complying to epub a11y spec either
… so the other option is that we accept that epub just shouldn’t have a dc:conforms statement
… include details in VPAT
… for content that has known and potentially serious issues with it, then let’s not try to solve that from a conformance perspective

John Foliot: <meta ... content="my VPAT.html">

John Foliot: maybe part of the problem is that we don’t want to be pointing to a specific WCAG
… if we use a meta-declaration (see above), could we open the spec to point to, for example, a VPAT statement?
… re. george’s statement of institutions that already claim conformance, some EDUs want very richly annotated VPATs
… so in some ways a short, patterned conformance statement is less useful than a detailed document

Avneesh Singh: there are some mechanisms already built into metadata to deal with this

Matt Garrish: doesn’t seem right to say that VPAT is a conformance statement. A VPAT is a report of how you conform to something else
… there’s nothing something can determine from that sort of URL
… you can put it in if you want. The spec can’t prevent you from doing that. But not sure we want to put that in the spec.

Avneesh Singh: certifierReport is the right place for that sort of thing
… to summarize, we don’t like the disclaimer. It may be useful, but not for the purpose for which it was created.
… let’s leave it for now
… mgarrish are you satisfied with the certifierReport and other metadata that can meet this need?

Matt Garrish: maybe we can make it clear that even if you aren’t providing a conformance claim you can still provide a link to a certifierReport

Avneesh Singh: i think it would be nice to explain that these can be used in this way

George Kerscher: if we have no conformance statement you could still include certifiedby and you could clarify in your a11y summary what you conform to
… when the metadata is shown according to the UX guide, for conformsto it would say none provided, right?

Avneesh Singh: yes, for now, but we still have to revisit the UX guide

John Foliot: the only other potential problem i see is WCAG3
… from the start WCAG3 is being built for various levels of conformance: bronze, silver, gold
… and a scoring mechanism still being sorted out
… so we’re going to have to be able to declare which which level an epub is at

Avneesh Singh: no, we’ve decided that we’re not going with this disclaimer route, so we don’t need to state closeness of conformance
… and if you don’t completely conform, then the epub shouldn’t include a conformance statement

Charles LaPierre: I’m not in favor of pulling the disclaimer. The disclaimer puts publishers at ease, acknowledges forgiveness for human error, provides route for reporting. I think having it is better than not.

Avneesh Singh: let’s continue discussion in issue tracker, as I don’t think we can resolve on this issue today

Charles LaPierre: I think we should vote on this today

Avneesh Singh: per W3C practice we need consensus
… at 2 months away from CR, and with some publishers missing, I’m not sure a vote is a good idea right now

Charles LaPierre: +1 to Matts suggestion.

Matt Garrish: we don’t need to make this either/or. Disclaimer is optional. But we can still add explanatory statement that people can leave out conformsto and link to VPAT.

John Foliot: I like that route. Choice is good.

Matt Garrish: from an editing perspective I can let you look at both and see how you feel

Avneesh Singh: so, for people who were opposed to this, does the non-compulsory nature of the disclaimer change your mind?

Tzviya Siegman: I think it needs to be clearer how the disclaimer is intended to be used

Matt Garrish: sure, I can try to work on that

George Kerscher: in my mind bottom line is that there is no catastrophic failure

John Foliot: even though disclaimer is optional, I think we’re going to see it all the time. We’re back to the contradictory statements.

Avneesh Singh: so it would serve the purpose of allowing the publisher to make a more accurate statement, rather than providing any legal certainty

Matt Garrish: and we can clarify that putting in a disclaimer doesn’t absolve you from legal liability
… do we want to rename it to contact information rather than disclaimer?
… I think ONIX does a similar thing

John Foliot: and that contact info is baked into VPATs as well

Gregorio Pellegrino: if its only simple text we could put it in the last sentence of the a11y summary

Charles LaPierre: the whole reason for this was because publishers were worried about saying conformsto WCAG AA. I don’t think adding a contact us address that issue.

John Foliot: +1 to Charles, we need both

Avneesh Singh: it seems we don’t have consensus. So let’s continue discussion in issue tracker.
… and let’s remember that we are just 2 months away from CR, so we can’t make too many changes this time around

2. Clarify certifier needs to be associated with conformance statement (pr epub-specs#1789)

See github pull request #1789.

Matt Garrish: this was a problem with tying conformance statement to certifier
… this restores the refines attribute so that you can explicitly make that link between those metadata
… at the time we had removed this on the expectation that refines was going to be gone

3. Need for evaluation date metadata (pr epub-specs#1590)

See github pull request #1590.

Avneesh Singh: okay, so let’s do that
… this one is about potentially having a certification date

Matt Garrish: if you want to put a date in your can use a dc:terms value, and to attach that to the certifier
… its not something we’re defining, or that we require, but the question keeps coming up
… so this just adds an example to the spec

Avneesh Singh: any objections?

Charles LaPierre: and so you would use refines to point to the certifier?

Matt Garrish: yes

4. TPAC meetings to schedule with APA

Avneesh Singh: TPAC meetings. There are 4 topics suggested.

Avneesh Singh: * Horizontal review of the Epub suite

Avneesh Singh: * Related work in APA, Epub, CSS (and possibly other WG)

Avneesh Singh: * on spoken presentation.

Avneesh Singh: * Normative use of schema in W3C specifications in the light of introduction of registries in Process 2021.

Avneesh Singh: all of these are not specific to epub. 1 is. But 2-3 are publishing in general.
… 4 is a boarder discussion

Charles LaPierre: on #3, is that about personalization and pronunciation?

Avneesh Singh: yes, it’s about TTS, CSS speech, etc

John Foliot: not so much personalization

Avneesh Singh: are there any other suggestions for topics?
… if not, then the dates: Oct 25, 26, 28, or 29th.
… which date is most appropriate? What time - 14 to 16 UTC?
… wendyreid, when is the epub3 WG meeting?

Wendy Reid: 28th and 29th. 28th JP. 29th NA.

Gregorio Pellegrino: I propose doing it on the 28th, at the same time slot as this call now

Charles LaPierre: +1 on 28th

Avneesh Singh: any objection?

Wendy Reid: +1

Gregorio Pellegrino: +1

Matt Garrish: +1

Will Awad: +1

Avneesh Singh: okay, that’s resolved then

Proposed resolution: TPAC meeting with APA: Oct 28, 14 UTC to 16:15 UTC (Avneesh Singh)

Gregorio Pellegrino: +1

Avneesh Singh: resolved

Resolution #1: TPAC meeting with APA: Oct 28, 14 UTC to 16:15 UTC

Avneesh Singh: if we need more time, do we have a 2nd best option for the date?

Wendy Reid: +1 to 25th

Avneesh Singh: 25th as well for additional agenda items?

Charles LaPierre: +1 as well

Gregorio Pellegrino: +1 to 25th

Proposed resolution: 25th october, similar timing, as backup (Avneesh Singh)

Tzviya Siegman: +1 to 25th

Will Awad: +1

Avneesh Singh: okay, thank you.

Resolution #2: 25th october, similar timing, as backup

Tzviya Siegman: looking at the proposed agenda, re. #4, what is that?

Avneesh Singh: its a brainstorming session affecting specs in general

TF: at a higher level there is a discussion within W3C for having a normative place to put fragments. e.g. In WCAG 2.1 success criteria 1.3.5 has a taxonomy of terms that is in the spec. This would look at a place for storing such things to be referenced by normative specs
… a11y is one area this would affect, but other W3C groups would have a use for this as well

Avneesh Singh: let’s adjourn the call for now
… see you all in 2 weeks

5. Resolutions