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Second Life and ATAG - my action item

From: Tim Boland <frederick.boland@nist.gov>
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2008 10:26:16 -0500
Message-Id: <5.1.1.5.2.20080219101549.02313098@mail.nist.gov>
To: w3c-wai-au@w3.org
As an action item from the February 11 ATAG WG call, I was asked to 
investigate
how the Second Life application [1] would measure up against the ATAG2.0
success criteria (SCs) [2], and to identify what additional features would 
need
to be added to ATAG to properly include applications such as Second Life..

While I didn't have time to do a more thorough analysis in this regard (I
currently plan to do a more complete analysis later), after looking over 
some relevant
content pertaining to the issue, a few preliminary impressions are 
possible.. I wanted
to post this before the next teleconference for purposes of promoting
discussion..

disclaimer - all of this is subject to change..

Would the Second Life viewer "stand-alone" application itself count as an
authoring tool, or would other add-ons be separate authoring tools? Since 
(according to
what I read from Linden Labs?) the Second Life viewer source code appears 
to be available
  under an "open-source" license, and thus developers are free to 
contribute in this
regard, then what precisely are we calling an authoring tool for the 
purposes of
ATAG2.0 conformance? What kind of authoring tool would Second Life be, or 
would it and
its add-ons be a "collection" of authoring tools? Do we need to reexamine the
ATAG2.0 definition of authoring tool to include applications such as Second 
Life?
There are also other tutorials (found by searching on the topic) relating to
interaction with and usage of Second Life - would these tutorials also need 
to be
provided accessibly?

For background, there have been numerous discussions (found by searching on 
the topic)
about Second Life and accessibility, and some of these discussions have 
focused
on issues in this regard (including the presence of CAPTCHA for 
registration, lack
of keyboard shortcuts/preponderance of mouse-based actions, lack of voice chat
capability/text-to-voice feature for chat, focus problems, lack of
alternatives for object descriptions/"prim" labelling, need for "proximity" 
indicators for
objects/avatars, need for text adjustable in
terms of size/color, etc.).

After a little investigation, I think it is possible that the "in-world"
functions of Second Life, such as creating and interacting with 
objects/avatars and
participating in marketplace/commerce, might present special challenges for 
the
ATAG2.0 success criteria.

In terms of the Second Life user interface, it may be unclear precisely how 
and
to what extent the interface would measurably ensure that the relevant
functionality is accessible, would properly support interoperability with
assistive technologies, would in all cases follow the accessibility 
conventions of the
relevant platforms, would properly display text alternatives for non-text
objects, would adequately display synchronized alternatives for any 
synchronized media
in Second Life, would adequately ensure that the interface is presented in
different ways to different users, would make sure it is possible to see 
and hear the
interface, would demonstrably ensure that all functionality is available 
from a
keyboard, and would properly demonstrate time-independent interaction where
appropriate. Much more research is needed.. It appears from reading 
relevant postings that some
of these problems may be in the process of being addressed..

Furthermore, it may be unclear precisely how and to what extent the Second 
Life
interface would prevent any flashing that could cause seizures, would 
properly provide navigation
and editing via content structure, would properly provide all text search
capabilities, would properly manage all user preference settings, would 
properly ensure any
appropriate previews are as accessible as existing user agents, would properly
make all text content readable and understandable, would properly make all
functionality predictable, would demonstrably assist users in avoiding and 
correcting
mistakes, and would document all accessibility features of the user 
interface. Again,
much more research is needed.. It appears from reading relevant postings 
that some
of these problems may be in the process of being addressed..

In terms of supporting the production of accessible content,
it may be unclear precisely how and to what extent Second Life would properly
support relevant technologies that enable the creation of accessible content,
would properly ensure the preservation of all accessibility information,
would adequately ensure any automatically-generated content is accessible,
would properly prompt users to create accessible content, would properly
assist users in checking for any accessibility problems, and would properly
assist users in repairing any accessibility problems. NOTE: I mean users here
to be "content creators". Again, much more research is needed.. It appears from
  reading relevant postings that some of these problems may be in the process
of being addressed..

Furthermore, it is possible that there may be difficulties for Second Life in
measurably assisting users in managing, editing, and reusing any equivalent
alternatives for any non-text objects, in properly assisting users with
interaction with any pre-authored content, in properly ensuring that
accessible authoring actions are given sufficient prominence, in properly
ensuring that any sequential authoring processes properly integrate accessible
authoring practices, in adequately ensuring availability of all
features that support the production of accessible content,
in adequately ensuring that all features supporting the
production of accessible content are documented, and in properly
ensuring that any content creation/modification practices demonstrated
in documentation are accessible. Again, much more research is needed..
  It appears from reading relevant postings that some of
these problems may be in the process of being addressed..

NOTE: It is possible that not all ATAG2.0 SC may properly apply to Second 
Life?
What do we do in those instances?

Since Second Life is a three-dimensional "virtual world" created entirely by
its residents, and since residents can make "creations" (including movies),
participate in "marketplace/commerce" activities with those creations, conduct
"commerce" with Linden dollars, purchase "land" and "islands", and perform 
other
"in-world" functions (such as "chat" with avatars, "problem-solve", and 
display
"intelligence"), there may be additional capabilities required of ATAG in 
the future
to accessibly handle these additional capabilities? Since multiplayer 
role-playing
  gaming capability, creativity and ownership capabilities, simulators, 
"in-world" footage,
blogs, fansites, predefined tools used for building, as well as resident-run
classes and tutorials, are all present in Second Life, and since these 
functions
would need to be provided accessibly in the future, there may be additional
requirements in this regard pertaining to future versions of ATAG?

I didn't have time to take a detailed look at the ATAG2.0 Techniques [3]
relevant to the previous discussion, but it is possible that some of the 
specific
techniques indicated may be of benefit to making Second Life more accessible?

Thanks and best wishes
Tim Boland NIST

[1]: http://www.secondlife.com
[2]: http://www.w3.org/WAI/AU/2008/WD-ATAG20-20080206/WD-ATAG20-20080206.html
[3]: http://www.w3.org/WAI/AU/2008/WD-ATAG20-TECHS-20080206/WD-
ATAG20-TECHS-20080206.html
Received on Thursday, 21 February 2008 14:28:06 GMT

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