Another attempt at plain language

Shawn Steele Shawn.Steele at
Sun Sep 13 21:14:04 CEST 2015

Who's asking for the tags?
I see the WCAG guidance, but that doc doesn't ask for tags as a way to solve the problem.

-----Original Message-----
From: Ietf-languages [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at] On Behalf Of Doug Ewell
Sent: Sunday, September 13, 2015 10:13 AM
To: Michael Everson <everson at>; Tobias Bengfort <tobias.bengfort at>
Cc: ietf-languages at
Subject: Re: Another attempt at plain language

Michael Everson wrote:

>>> … is not, I think, best solved by a subtag.
>> But how should it be solved then? I get your concerns, but I have not 
>> yet found any alternatives.
> I don’t know. A conformance statement? In any case it doesn’t seem 
> taggable. There are books for early readers and young adults and 
> college students but the difference of language use in those books is 
> not precisely defined. Nor is the WCAG’s recommendation (or
> requirement) without ambiguity.

If the goal is to allow conformance to the WCAG, why doesn't someone simply ask the Working Group for guidance? It's not as if we have to guess at the intent of the Founding Fathers; the specification is from 2008, and the WG has published supplementary material on this spec as recently as this year.

As a side note, the supplementary material does include this passage from a UNESCO standard:

"According to the Open Society Mental Health Initiative, the concept of Easy to Read cannot be universal, and it will not be possible to write a text that will suit the abilities of all people with literacy and comprehension problems. Using the clearest and simplest language appropriate is highly desirable, but the WCAG Working Group could not find a way to test whether this had been achieved. The use of reading level is a way to introduce testability into a Success Criterion that encourages clear writing. Supplementary content can be a powerful technique for people with some classes of cognitive disability."

implying that a set of subtags representing quantifiable reading levels, as Tobias mentioned at one point, might be what the WG is really after.

Doug Ewell | | Thornton, CO 🇺🇸

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