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Re: Author incentives for accessibility

From: Matthew Raymond <mattraymond@earthlink.net>
Date: Fri, 18 May 2007 06:51:36 -0400
Message-ID: <464D8538.7040704@earthlink.net>
To: Henrik Dvergsdal <henrik.dvergsdal@hibo.no>
CC: public-html@w3.org

Henrik Dvergsdal wrote:
> On 18 May 2007, at 00:08, Ian Hickson wrote:
>>> It provides accessibility.
>>
>> That's not an incentive, sadly. Evidence suggests that we should  
>> design features such that using them in a way that results in a
>> good presentation is enough to get good accessibility.
> 
> What evidence are you referring to?

   He's probably referring to several underutilized attributes such as
|headers| and |id|.

>>> Incentives include:
>>>
>>> - It is good business practice. People with disabilities comprise of
>>> approximately 600 million or 10% of the world population that form a
>>> potential market which is untapped.
>>
>> The Web clearly indicates that this is not an incentive. headers=""/ 
>> id="" on tables is orders of magnitude harder than simple things such
>> as using <h1> instead of <font>, yet the Web is full of the latter.
> 
> I think that, due to projects like OLPC etc., the importance those  
> 10% will grow in the years to come.

   I don't. I think that the only successful accessibility-related
technologies will be the ones that require trivial-to-no work on the
part of web developers.

   Out of curiosity, what accessibility features does OLPC have?

>>> - Access for people with disabilities to web sites is law or  
>>> policy in
>>> many places.
>
>> It's not clear to me that this incentive is working either.
> 
> Does this mean it's unclear to you [whether] these laws/policies will
> be enforced and followed in the future?

   I think he's saying that if the law in any region places any serious
accessibility burden on general web sites, the market will either lobby
to have the law repealed, or they'll push the easiest technology for the
developers that provides legally acceptable accessibility, regardless of
its technical merits or whether it's an open standard. For instance, if
the next version of Flash introduces improved accessibility, and HTML5
accessibility is to hard to use, you may see an upsurge in Flash use in
places that legally require a certain level of accessibility.

>> You provided a
>> whole two examples of real world use of these attributes.
> 
> Arguing on the basis of small numbers of examples seems a little  
> unfair to me. Access to this type of data is not equally distributed  
> among people on this list. Is there any way we can get into more  
> equitable positions on this?

   I'm not sure what you mean by data being "equally distributed", but
the two examples given boiled down to the following:

1) The 10% of the population that needs accessibility features justify
whatever new markup is necessary.

2) The law requires a minimal level of accessibility.

   Example #1 isn't necessarily true for two reasons. First, assistive
technologies will evolve to support whatever the markup of the Internet
is. Therefore, a company or municipality may decide that the level of
accessibility provided is sufficient, even though an assistive
technology built into browsers and screen readers may do most of the
work. Second, since that 10% of the market requires greater resources to
tap, there economic pressure not to support these individuals. We have
to make sure HTML5 markup doesn't create a law of diminishing returns
relative do individuals with disabilities.

   Example #2 doesn't really make sense, because if you need to CREATE
new markup in HTML5 to comply with the law, then that means the entire
Internet currently breaks the law. Therefore, new markup probably won't
ENABLE compliance with the law, because the law would be repealed long
before the HTML5 spec would reach the recommendation stage. Instead, new
HTML5 markup should make it EASIER to comply with the law by making
support for accessibility trivial to add to web pages.

>> Furthermore,
>> even the laws themselves, as your citations above showed, often  
>> fail to follow their own rules.
> 
> So you think authors will ignore accessibility laws/policies just  
> because they are poorly presented on web pages?

   Are you suggesting that we design HTML5 around the accessibility laws
of every country and municipality on Earth? Because if that's the case,
we're going to need a lot more lawyers on this mailing list...
Received on Friday, 18 May 2007 10:52:19 UTC

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