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Comments: Selecting Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools

From: Sailesh Panchang <sailesh.panchang@deque.com>
Date: Thu, 3 Feb 2005 14:41:53 -0500
Message-ID: <003701c50a28$69c169e0$a201a8c0@deque.local>
To: "'EOWG'" <w3c-wai-eo@w3.org>
Shadi,


I like this version the  most so far. Some observations, though:

1. The last item in the doc on user interface  really covers what you have  under types of tools. For instance, visual feedback is  just the way a particular tool  interacts with the user. I would not categorize it as a  type of tool. Same about reporting. I wonder if this section is really necessary.
2.  The heading "Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools for Manual Checkpoints" seems odd.
Checkpoints are not manual or automatic. Some just need human judgment for evaluation to a degree not supported by automated tools at present.
The tools described here are software tools which assist or facilitate evaluation by humans and do not directly provide a yes / no type of answer. 
3. I note the use of "experienced developers" as the ones who can evaluate accessibility. It appears more than once. To do evaluation, one does not really have to be a savvy developer. To fix the problems one needs relevant developer-skills. I would drop the emphasis on "development".  One needs to know accessibility guidelines,  have familiarity with / be a user of assistive technologies or alternative methods of browsing / computer access and knowledgeable of needs of PWD. Certainly development skills help too. 
Eval tools can be used  by developers to check their own work / build accessibility. But reading the doc leavesone with the impression that only developers use eval tools and does not recognize a breed of individuals whose work is just  quality assurance  / accessibility / usability assurance. The doc should therefore shift the focus from developers and say that eval tools also help developers.  
4. Judging an eval tool by how well it provides education material is  not fair. Any product should have documentation to  support a user understand and use all features of the product. If I want to educate myself about accessibility I will look at EO's resources and other such materials and tutorials etc. I'll use a tool if possible to experiment and   understand the subject better. But I will not rely on the documentation provided by a tool for teaching myself about accessibility. Yes the documentation may contain some pointers and summarize  key issues / techniques where appropriate. But "education value"  should not be a criteria. Usability of the documentation is important.  
5.  The definition again:
- is the focus only on Web sites?  Not Web content or a Web page?
- I think "and help improve Web accessibility" is not necessary.
6. Difficult to expect a tool to say which checkpoints do not apply after  having agreed that a tool cannot cover all checkpoints for now.

Thanks.

Sailesh Panchang
Senior Accessibility Engineer 
Deque Systems,11180  Sunrise Valley Drive, 
4th Floor, Reston VA 20191
Tel: 703-225-0380 Extension 105 
E-mail: sailesh.panchang@deque.com
Fax: 703-225-0387
* Look up <http://www.deque.com> *
Received on Thursday, 3 February 2005 19:46:02 GMT

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