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accessibility exercise and design principles (Re: unifying alternate content...)

From: Laura Carlson <laura.lee.carlson@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2007 14:10:50 -0500
Message-ID: <1c8dbcaa0707171210h169946cdo30e7f843e45d9b3a@mail.gmail.com>
To: public-html@w3.org
Cc: "Robert Burns" <rob@robburns.com>, "Sander Tekelenburg" <st@isoc.nl>, "Debi Orton" <oradnio@gmail.com>, "Patrick Lauke" <redux@splintered.co.uk>, joshue.oconnor@cfit.ie, "Leif Halvard Silli" <lhs@malform.no>, "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <oedipus@hicom.net>, "Philip Taylor (Webmaster)" <P.Taylor@rhul.ac.uk>, "Steve Faulkner" <sfaulkner@paciellogroup.com>, "Bruce Lawson" <bruce@brucelawson.co.uk>, "John Foliot" <foliot@wats.ca>, "Judy Brewer" <jbrewer@w3.org>, alfred.s.gilman@ieee.org, "Jon Gunderson" <jongund@uiuc.edu>

I'm sorry if this is a duplicate, but I sent it out twice and it has
been truncated each time.

On 7/17/07, Sander Tekelenburg <st@isoc.nl> wrote [1] :

> Have you ever browsed the Web without images, plug-ins, javascript,
CSS? You
> go nuts dealing with all the indications of what you're missing,
> because the indication refers only to a format. They don't tell you
> you're actually missing *information*. The only way to judge that is
> somehow, consume that information.

Sander brings up a good point. I encourage anyone who hasn't tried
"disabling their browser" to do so.


"Disable your browser" is a exercise that I have all my web
accessibility students complete. The idea is to give an idea as to
what it's like to have access to the web restricted. It is an effort
to aid in understanding what it feels like, and hopefully get folks
thinking about how these problems can be overcome.? The following are
the instructions.

No, don't unplug the phone cord or ethernet connection! Instead we
are going to selectively disable certain features in your web browser.

1. Go into your preferences in your browser and turn off any and all
of the following, if you can. (You may have to poke around a bit in
"preferences" or internet settings, and not all browsers will allow
you to disable everything. But the general intent is to turn off as
much as you can.)
 * Images
 * Sound
 * Java
 * JavaScript
 * Style Sheets

2. Take your mouse/track ball/pointing device, unplug it, and throw
it out the window. Okay, don't really do that, you might not be able
to find it again. But don't use the mouse for the purpose of this

3. Look up the keyboard shortcuts for your browser in the help files
or manual pages. Oops, I should have told you to do that before
removing the mouse. Well, just remember that people with disabilities
aren't magically born knowing how to run computers either, and if the
help system is not accessible, they are in as much trouble as you are

4. With your "disabled" browsing system, look at five different web
sites and attempt to use them. These should meet the following

 * They are sites you've used before.
 * They are sites where you can actually do something, and that
something is of interest to you personally.
 * They are different
types of sites (not all news, not all e-commerce, not all personal
pages, etc). Look at a variety of sites.

5. Try to use these sites as you normally would, and record where
you encountered any difficulties.

What Was Your Experience Like?

   1. What sites did you visit? (Please include URLs)
   2. Were you able to perform your normal tasks?
   3. What kind of obstacles, if any, did you encounter in accessing
      those sites?
   4. In what ways was your experience similar to those
      with disabilities, and in what ways was it different?

For question four, the majority of students note just how lucky they
are that is exercise is temporary and that they are "re-able their
browser" (in contrast to the disabled). One hundred percent of the
students are extremely frustrated with the obstacles and whole
experience. It is a revelation to them.

Everyone who uses the web is likely to experience frustration from
time to time, and any site visited can prove to be a "learning

However, disabled people must frequently overcome additional obstacles
before they can enjoy the full range of information, services,
entertainment and social interaction offered by the Web: blind people
need sites to provide, for example, text as an alternative to images
for translation into audible or legible words by specially designed
screen reading devices; partially sighted people may be especially
reliant upon large-format text and effective color contrast; and
people with manual dexterity impairments may need to navigate with a
keyboard rather than with a mouse.

Nevertheless, the Web has enormous potential for disabled people. In
contrast to some other information media, the web is, with the benefit
of assistive technology, tolerant of impairment. Accessible and
inclusive design makes it easier to use these alternative means of
access, without making a site less attractive or less functional to
unimpaired users.


That's why our HTML 5 Design Principles [2] need to state that

I asked this before [3], and didn't get an answer. But I'll ask again.
In section 3.4, of the principles document what is the logic behind
saying "when possible" in the statement, "Design features for
universal access. This does not mean that features should be omitted
entirely if not all users can fully make use of them, but alternate
mechanisms should be provided when possible."  ?

The HTML 5 working group charter [4], says "The HTML Working Group
will cooperate with the Web Accessibility Initiative to ensure that
the deliverables _will satisfy accessibility requirements_."

The familiar Tim Berners-Lee quote, "The power of the Web is in its
universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an
essential aspect." [5], remains a powerful statement.

The Mozilla Manifesto has as its second principle "The Internet is a
global public resource that must remain open and accessible." [6]

This working group would do well to have an accessibility principle
that heeds the accessibilty wisdom of TBL and is as supporting as
Mozilla. Perhaps we could strengthen our principle with something

"Design features to be accessible, universal, and inclusive. Access by
everyone regardless of disability is an essential. This does not mean
that features should be omitted entirely if not all users can fully
make use of them. But alternate/equivalent  mechanisms must be

Jon Gunderson provided some important accessibility concepts to highlight. [7]

Best Regards,

[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2007Jul/0826.html
[2] http://dev.w3.org/cvsweb/~checkout~/html5/html-design-principles/Overview.html
[3] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2007Jun/0898.html
[4] http://www.w3.org/2007/03/HTML-WG-charter.html
[5] http://www.w3.org/WAI/
[6] http://www.mozilla.org/about/mozilla-manifesto.html
[7] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2007Jul/0648.html

Laura L. Carlson
Received on Tuesday, 17 July 2007 19:11:07 UTC

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