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Re: Kynn's Analysis of CD Web Accessibility

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Mon, 03 Apr 2000 20:50:17 -0700
Message-Id: <>
To: Anne Pemberton <apembert@crosslink.net>
Cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
At 06:32 PM 4/1/2000 , Anne Pemberton wrote:
>Hope you enjoyed your vacation. I can see you did a lot of thinking. There
>are many good ideas that could be suggested to developers of browsers so
>that a browser can be created to be used by those with the most
>text-limited cognitive disabilities. But, in addressing this extreme end of
>those in this category, you have neglected the very real and very
>easily-do-able recommendation for web designers to illustrate their
>pages/sites because many with disabilities in cognition, language, etc.,
>need them. Your solutions still heavily depend on text which is the problem. 

Anne, I think you misunderstood something here.  I was not trying to
design a *good* software solution that will provide access to people
with disabilities; I was instead trying to demonstrate that such 
software could be built.  The software described was a "proof of
concept" strawman.  (Do you understand this style of discussion?  I
have fears that you and I have vastly incompatible ways of solving
problems in a group discussion context.)

In this case, I'm not trying to solve the problem of CD access --
because I am not a CD accessibility expert!  It's completely beyond
my ability to solve this problem, and anything I produce will be
faulty and generally worthless.

Instead, I am trying to inspire *you* and *others* to start thinking
along these lines, by providing you with a template for what *I'd*
like to see, and what would make my job, as a web designer who tries
to be expert at accessible web design (and not a specialist in the
field of cognitive disabilities), easier to do.

>It is much easier for everyone involved if web designers put some
>attention to illustrating their sites, at least enough to allow effective
>navigation of sites.

Do you think current web designers do not?  I'm curious.  Let's leave
off sites designed by very textual people (such as myself or William
or Gregory) and instead look at the web as a whole.  There are many
sites that are highly graphical in nature -- specifically, do you
feel that those sites are lacking in some way, and if so, in what
ways are they lacking?

Here's some questions to hopefully draw some more constructive feedback
out of you:

* What web sites have you seen that use graphics extensively?
* Are most graphical sites simply using "textual graphics", that is
   to say, using words in pretty fonts with color and trim, instead
   of using icons?
* What makes the use of an icon for navigation particularly "good"
   and "understandable"?  What types of graphics increase

>The person designing the web is in a much better
>position to know, locate, and connect what will illustrate the actual
>theme/main idea of the page,

Except there are advantages to having a -standard- set of icons
as a "vocabulary" rather than relying on the page author to get it
right each time.  The graphical user interface (GUI) design standards
are useful, because they give some nice suggestions as to how to
represent the same thing across various applications.  For example,
William may not like the use of scissors for "cut", but once it's
learned, it becomes "familiar" and does pretty much the same thing
in every application -- regardless of whether or not it was a great
choice in the first place.

Likewise, "home" graphics to return to the main page of a site are
a really silly idea, but that metaphor is in such common use that
even though it's a terrible idea originally, it's now a good idea
because it's so well understood.

>than to set up some limited data base of icons

A limited database of icons has its advantages, though -- you
can re-use them on different web sites instead of forcing the
user to relearn each and every site available.

>that won't likely be available to those who depend on tv web reception
>anyway ... 


But that's not a CD issue.  If you want to start talking about
alternative means of access that are -not- related to access by
people with disabilities, I can point out that forcing designers
to include graphics on a page, when they are not necessary for
the majority user to use the page, can present a lot of hardships
for designers and users in a situation where graphics take a long
time to download and/or cost money -- e.g., the situation in
some European countries, or wireless net access.

In most of those cases, the user wants to download only a minimum
of graphics -- whatever graphics are necessary to get the task
done.  On a well-done site, this will be a low number, possibly
zero, but theoretically slightly higher.  Remember, intelligent
use of graphics -does- benefit usability, and users will not
typically object to a NECESSARY graphic.  However, "excessive"
use of graphics will be a detriment, as THERE IS NO WAY TO

(In capitals for emphasis, as I think this is an important

Thus the low-bandwidth/limited-online-time user is forced to
either turn off graphics entirely, and lose out on usability,
or download all the graphics, including the unnecessary ones, in
order to use the page.  This isn't an acceptable situation to
be in.

>Incidently, providing support for tv web delivery (no choice of browser,
>no speech) would be providing support for an "assistive technology" which
>is used by folks I know with a CD.

Can you describe this "tv web delivery" system?  Do you mean
WebTV?  It may be the case that your users with CDs may be losing
out because they are using *the wrong technology* -- just as a
user who is blind would lose out by using WebTV, as it doesn't
provide any interface for users with disabilities.

Before we start claiming that WebTV (or tv web delivery?) is a
useful assistive technology for these users, we need to identify
what their needs are and how their needs are being met.  How does
"tv web delivery" function as an assistive technology for web
access, beyond simply being cheap and thus affordable by people
on limited incomes?

>Not all of them, just as all visually impaired folks don't use
>old comuters. 

I don't understand this statement.  Where does it come from?  What
are you trying to say?

Kynn Bartlett  <kynn@idyllmtn.com>                   http://www.kynn.com/
Director of Accessibility, edapta                  http://www.edapta.com/
Chief Technologist, Idyll Mountain Internet      http://www.idyllmtn.com/
AWARE Center Director                         http://www.awarecenter.org/
Received on Monday, 3 April 2000 23:59:42 UTC

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