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Minutes of the Open A11y Expert Handlers SIG Call 2007/11/19


  • Neil Soiffer (NS/chair & scribe)
  • Vladmir Bulatov (VB)
  • Janina Sajka (JS)
  • Gregory J. Rosmaita (GJR)
    • regrets: none logged

Agenda Review

Minutes of Expert Handlers Conference Call 2007/11/19

Background from Gregory

Note: The following background information is drawn from email sent to NS by GJR during the W3C Technical Plenary meetings November 5-10, 2007

The headline news is that XML Events 2.0:

is dropping the purpose element from the handlers module's list of handler elements, which was requested by the Protocols & Formats Working Group of the W3C). This means that it will be left to individual APIs to implement handlers -- one means of effecting a standard means of defining a generic handler for Web APIs which would be natively supported by each API, may be through the work of the WebAPI working group at the W3C. GJR is in the process of joining the Web API working group, as it dove-tails with Open A11y's Expert Handlers work, as well as some of the other work GJR is doing for other fora.

The reason i pointed you to the minutes of the XHTML2 WG was to illustrate the strategy developed at the WG's f2f meetings last week -- to harmonize and standardize everything we can in an endlessly extensible manner, using XML as the basis for all integration and functionality... this struck a chord with me, as i remembered discussions of using XML to contain the test harness slash provide the means of mapping bindings and events, states, roles, and properties for platform-agnostic APIs at least that is what i think i thought when i decided to declare the iron sufficiently hot for the striking...

also, there is an uneasy feeling amongst several members and odd-bedfellows within the HTML WG that the HTML5 draft reads more like a guide to browser behavior than a technical specification of a markup language... this amorphous group includes a11y advocates, standards freaks, author-oriented advocates (such as those, past and present, who have been major actors in the work of WaSP: the Web Standards Project), and those who are concerned that the CANVAS element is an end-around SVG implementation and support and who are very uneasy by the media-specific elements, such as VIDEO, and would rather strengthen and extend the capabilities of the OBJECT element (including defining a role attribute for OBJECT that would identify the generic medium ("audio" "video" etc.) as well as specific media-type information, such as:

  OBJECT role="video" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"

for content-type negotiation and programmatic handling. This is already a formal proposal to the XHTML2 WG:

and one that GJR plans, with the blesing of Alessio, the proposal's author (we've discussed it a few times before he posted his proposal) to take to the HTML WG once the kinks are worked out.


Gregory led off a discussion/description of HTML5, XHTML2, and related issues. He explained the differences and schisms between the two.

The current HTML5 editor's draft, which was formally submitted to the W3C by the WHAT WG, can be found at:

The XHTML2 working group's specifications can be found at

Gregory described how the CSS isn't part of the DOM, so CSS tricks can be inaccessible.

Gregory described the problems of namespaces and ARIA. One problem is that ARIA's "role" attribute would conflict with SVG's role. ":" can't be used because of compatibility issues with existing usage in IE. Other options include "aria-" or "aria_". What to do remains controversial.

Gregory said that a basic handler functionality is being omitted from XML Events, 2.0. Spefically, handler module's "purpose" element, proposed for XML Events by the Protocols & Formats working group. This is because the XHTML2 WG decided that such functionality properly belongs in the realm of APIs, not declarative data. Gregory is working to become a member of the Web API WG.

As a group, we can provide implementor insight to the API WG along with use cases. Gregory suggested a formal liaison with the W3C Protocols and Formats group.

Janina suggested the only effective way to promote a cross platform solution is using Web API. Gregory felt that was the intent of the Web API group.

ACTION ITEM: Gregory to invite Al Gilman from the Protocols and Formats group to our next meeting.

Gregory called our attention to the dispute surrounding media-specific elements which have been introduced into the HTML5 Editor's Draft, such as video, as opposed to those who champion OBJECT to provide content-negotiated alternatives to an end user.