You can choose compassion

As of today (2008.02.26), the WCAG Samurai errata for WCAG 1.0 are finally available.

It would be generous to say this took too long to get out the door. In fact, an appropriate or symbolic release date never manifested itself. Obviously it would be a delicious comeuppance to release the errata the same day WCAG 2 comes out, but who knows when that would be? And how much notice would we have? (Possibly none.) I eventually decided that today would be the day. And so it is. As I desubscribed from 11 accessibility mailing lists last night, I leave it to my readers to spread the word.

The errata, you will recall, are one group’s opinion of the deficiencies in WCAG 1.0. Your opinion does not have to coincide with ours, but I’d wager there won’t be many areas of disagreement. It is impossible for a working, informed standards-compliant developer to dismiss the errata out of hand as being incorrect in some fundamental way.

The errata essentially write down all the tricks of the trade. An advanced developer knows most of these tricks already. It is those developers who might be tempted to pick nits. A relative neophyte, someone new to Web accessibility, will probably find them useful right away.

It’s possible to go on at great length about this distinction between experts and amateurs. I won’t. The Samurai errata are strictly optional, and anyone who disagrees with them can just refuse to use them.

Of course our development process is objectionable to some. We did it in secret. And we knew what we were doing, because, as I have explained at length (though it never sinks in with some people), the WCAG process is claimed to be open but isn’t open in practice. Ours was claimed to be secret and was secret in practice. But we subjected our errata to peer review – twice. While most of you could not witness the creation of the documents, the process was rigorous.

I won’t be disclosing the members of the Samurai. I have tendered no obligations upon those members; they can do as they wish. I will, however, note that I silently removed Derek Featherstone from the list strictly because he blabbed on about the project in a foreign country. When I said “secret,” I meant it.

Like you, I am pretty tired of Web accessibility at this point. Unlike you, the reason I am tired of it is the same reason I already gave you: There hasn’t been enough, or sometimes any, money in it. There still isn’t.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2008.02.26 13:18. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:
http://blog.fawny.org/2008/02/26/erratarific/

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