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[Bug 13432] <video> In the description of accessibility features, call out those with reduced faculties separately from those with disabilities, to avoid offending the elderly

From: <bugzilla@jessica.w3.org>
Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2011 18:01:40 +0000
To: public-html-a11y@w3.org
Message-Id: <E1RbFci-0007Ig-VB@jessica.w3.org>

Léonie Watson <tink@tink.co.uk> changed:

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--- Comment #17 from Léonie Watson <tink@tink.co.uk> 2011-12-15 18:01:39 UTC ---
John and Hixie both have good points. The text needs to be meaningful and
respectful, but it shouldn't overwhelm the reader.

The best approach (in my experience) is to reference broad categories of
disability, rather than specific conditions. For this to be successful, the
categories need to be recognisable, as well as socially accepted.

Recognition is the easier of the two to achieve. For example, the phrase
"people who are blind or partially sighted" will be more easily understood than
"people with Diabetic retinopathy, Macular degeneration, Achromatopsia..." and
so on.

There's a little more subtlety involved with the social acceptance aspect. Not
least because there are a couple of layers to consider.

People who are Deaf consider themselves distinct from people who are hard of
hearing. This form of self identification stems from the fact that Deaf people
sign as their first language. You might therefore describe someone as Japanese,
French, or Deaf. This concept is further re-enforced in countries such as the
UK, where British Sign language is an officially recognised national language.

The differences between blind and partially sighted people haven't given rise
to any form of social identity. If you ask someone to describe their sight
related disability though, they will almost always put themselves into one
category or the other...

With all four of these groups there are quite distinct requirements in terms of
assistive technology/accessibility. For example, someone who is Deaf may have
literacy difficulties, as well as being unable to hear. This is far less likely
in someone who is hard of hearing. Similarly, someone who is partially sighted
may be able to perceive image based content in the original, where as someone
who is blind will not.

Where things become more complex is with cognitive and physical disabilities.
As with blindness, partial sight, deafness or hearing impairments, there are
myriad conditions that cause cognitive and physical disabilities.

The principal difference is that the conditions that cause cognitive or
physical disabilities are not categorised into socially recognised groups.
Medically speaking there are (of course) quite distinct categories, but these
don't really translate into recognisable social identifiers.

Silvia also raises a very good point. Many people, particularly people who
acquire disabilities as a consequence of aging, may not identify themselves as
disabled at all.

So, this is why the text suggested by John would be preferable. It's short
enough to be sensible, uses phrases that are recognisable by most people, and
respects the social wishes of the people being described.

Hixie asked how to approach the task of finding the right balance. My
suggestion would be to use text along the following lines, wherever there is a
need to reference people with different disabilities:

* People who are Deaf or hard of hearing.
* People who are blind or partially sighted.
* People with cognitive disabilities.
* People with physical disabilities.

I don't want to start off another linguistic argument here, so worth explaining
that "partially sighted" and "visually impaired" are completely
interchangeable. The term “partially sighted" has greater resonance in the UK,
where as "visually impaired" may be the more common term in the US. Either is
absolutely fine to use in the spec text though.

Hope some of this helps.

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Received on Thursday, 15 December 2011 18:01:53 UTC

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