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Accessibility entries in help and documentation

From: Harvey Bingham <hbingham@acm.org>
Date: Thu, 04 Mar 1999 10:53:50 -0500
Message-Id: <4.1.19990304103604.00c2ccc0@pop.tiac.net>
To: w3c-wai-er-ig@w3.org
Summary: My recent experience using Netscape Navigator 4.5 suggests that 
writers of product documentation, including online help, may be
writing oblivious of accessibility issues. We should include
such in any product evaluation.

>At 1999-02-26 01:50 PM, Kitch Barnicle <kitch@afb.org> wrote
>to the UA group, Subject: product documentation 
>...
> As a point of illustration, I asked 13 screen reader users to turn off 
>images in Netscape 4.05 (as part of a research study). For a number of 
>reasons, no one succeeded in turning off images. And the four users who 
>ventured into the help system to figure out how to turn off images were 
>totally stymied by Netscape's inaccessible help system. So we have to be 
>careful about building in configuration capability and then hiding it some 
>place where users can't find it. Ideally, the user interface would be so 
>accessible and usable that documentation is not even needed, but if we are 
>going to expect users to configure the user agent then the documentation 
>must be accessible.

Curious, I tried it. Sorry for redundancy.

Anecdote: NSNavigator Index obscures how to turn images off. After about 
5 minutes trying to use their index (trying images, graphics, loading, 
download, automatic loading, etc.) I gave up, and searched from the main 
menu to find preferences. I examined each of the choices, finally at the 
bottom was Advanced. Eureka! 
the first checkbox, after finding this path: 
    Edit=>Preferences=>Advanced=>Automatically Load Images
Once I found it, I unchecked it. Didn't seem to have any effect, since the 
images on the refreshed page were still in the cache. Bummer. Weak 
cause and effect test. It did work with different page not in cache. Finally. 
I went back to the index and found "preferences, Navigator" 
In the middle of 15 choices was "Automatic Loading". 
Again under personalizing Navigator, paging down linearly for 35 screens 
(without a subindex) I found Automatic Loading described.
There was no useful content search available in that help system.

Moral: A review of any documentation should include probes for help with 
common accessibility needs. 

Regards/Harvey
Received on Thursday, 4 March 1999 10:54:30 GMT

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