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Accessibility, disability, all and some Re: Request to Strengthen the HTML5 Accessibility Design Principle

From: Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>
Date: Thu, 25 Jun 2009 11:31:44 +0200
To: "public-html@w3.org" <public-html@w3.org>
Cc: "wai-xtech@w3.org" <wai-xtech@w3.org>
Message-ID: <op.uv2p26o5wxe0ny@esws31067.es.deloitte.com>
On Wed, 24 Jun 2009 20:49:20 +0200, Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>  
wrote:

> 2) Some minor wording changes. I would appreciate rationale for these.
> Tentatively, I'm not in favor of most of them:
...
> * "Access by everyone regardless of ability is essential." --> "Access
> for people with disabilities is essential."
>
>      It seems like the change here is to exclude people who would not
> be classified as disabled from the scope of the principle, since
> people with disabilities were already specifically called out by the
> previous sentence. Content should be accessible to people of normal
> ability, as well as those with minor or temporary difficulties that
> might not traditionally be classified as a disability. Arguably this
> is so obvious as to go without saying, but I can't think of a reason
> to remove such people from consideration except to argue otherwise. I
> think the principle should continue to require access for all.
...
> I'm happy to add a headers="" example. Note that I think it satisfies
> the principle even without removing the reference to "everyone
> regardless of ability" since sighted users that aren't also using a
> screen reader or other assistive technology get equivalent content in
> the form of the visible structure of the table.

There is a concern among many people who work in accessibility that  
"access for all" is sometimes used to justify not providing  
"Accommodation" - solutions which do not affect everyone but are necessary  
in order to ensure that specific groups have the same quality of access as  
"the rest of us/them".

The example above, of having a visual structure which accommodates the  
vast majority, and headers which accommodate a group who cannot benefit  
 from the visual representation of the structure, is something I think is  
an example of how things should work. In an ideal world, a hidden  
attribute (in contravention of the visible metadata principle) wouldn't be  
there - but we live in the real world, and without it, we will be limiting  
people's ability to understand complex structures.

I suspect most people working in accessibilty would expect a high degree  
of misuse of almost any such feature - unfortunately, just specifying how  
things *should* be doesn't mean that people will make sure things *are*  
so. But the value that is available in the cases where this is done right  
means that it seems worthwhile to continue with it, and to continue  
teaching people to get it right.

(This is where the "sunk cost fallacy" meets the "we're part way there"  
restraint - another way to rephrase the question of backwards  
compatibility. Judging which one applies to a given case isn't always  
simple).

cheers

Chaals

-- 
Charles McCathieNevile  Opera Software, Standards Group
     je parle français -- hablo español -- jeg lærer norsk
http://my.opera.com/chaals       Try Opera: http://www.opera.com
Received on Thursday, 25 June 2009 09:32:26 GMT

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