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Re: Research questions - the underlying issue? (was Re: XML and accessibility)

From: Marja-Riitta Koivunen <marja@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 10:45:12 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: Wendy A Chisholm <wendy@w3.org>, w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
At 10:01 AM 1/24/00 -0500, Wendy A Chisholm wrote:
>I think the underlying argument that Scott is presenting is that someone 
>needs to research, develop, and test the most effective user interface for 
>people who are blind.
And I agree with Scott in this. This is actually one issue in the UA group
that often comes up, because we want to be able to offer users with
different disabilities means that best support their access to the pages.
That often means that the user tailors the UI of the browser according to
her needs. To do that well we need to know what best supports the users.
Usability and other human-computer interaction research is valuable in
finding new approaches that can better help users and in seeing the
problems with old approaches. And there is a lot of work in that area that
can be done.


>The discussions of this issue have been confusing because we have been 
>looking at solutions without clearly stating the question.
>If the question is, "what is the most effective user interface for a person 
>who is blind to access the Web?" I don't believe we can point to a widely 
>used, concrete solution.  There are many variables involved:
>1. user agents,
>2. assistive technologies,
>3. individual differences and preferences,
>4. various markup solutions,
>5. technological changes over time,
>6. combinations of all of these variables.
>The crux of this issue is not dynamic versus static delivery.  There are 
>two issues:
>1. fundamental research in how people who are blind access information is a 
>research question that needs to be answered.
>2. what is possible today and what is expected to be possible in the future 
>are very different.
>Scott, your experience watching users who are blind access your example 
>pages is very useful.  I would like to see your results generalized and not 
>interspersed with proposed solutions.  We need usability information on 
>individual differences of people with disabilities.  This information could 
>greatly improve how user agents and assistive technologies support user 
>interaction with information.
>Dynamically generated pages is a technique to address a current need. I 
>believe many folks on this list are anticipating future needs and are 
>reluctant to press authors to do so much work today that they will not need 
>to do in the future.  However, there is also the need of people who need to 
>access information <em>today</em>.  Although, Scott is primarily addressing 
>an ease of use issue (priority 3 or priority 2) and we still have lots of 
>work to do to bring the Web into conformance with at least Priority 1 items.
>The future is an idealistic place where user agents and assistive 
>technologies work seamlessly together to provide an easy to use auditory 
>user interface (or braille user interface) that is not confined by or an 
>interpretation of the graphical user interface.
>Therefore I propose that the following things happen:
>1.  Scott, please write a proposal for the WCAG techniques document that 
>uses W3C technologies to create dynamically generated pages.  I anticipate 
>that this proposal will include example markup as well as general 
>information about how to structure the page (formed from the results from 
>your observations).  Look at CC/PP [1] to see if this is in synch with your 
>ideas.  Some mobile groups are already using gateways to perform XSLT 
>transformations based on device type.  Show us how to do something similar 
>based on a user profile of preferences.
>2. People have been investigating auditory user interfaces for years (see 
>the International Community for Auditory Display (ICAD) [2] for more 
>information).  We need to ensure that the User Agents working group is 
>aware of these projects.  (However, none of these have caught on like the 
>GUI. I anticipate we will see more auditory user interfaces with the 
>adoption of mobile applications).  Therefore, the discussion of this topic 
>is best suited for the UA working group list.
>3. What about research into braille user interfaces?  Off the top of my 
>head I can not think of any research projects that have investigated 
>this.  What am I forgetting?  Again, the UA working group list is a better 
>venue for this discussion.
>4. It would be great if we could verify Scott's results or discover other 
>general principles with formal testing and research.  Any volunteers?  I 
>believe the WAI Interest Group list is the best venue for this discussion.
>5. People need to document observations of people with various disabilities 
>accessing the Web.  This information is valuable for several reasons:
>a. we need to identify the technological problems - is this an assistive 
>technology problem, a user agent problem, or a problem with the 
>markup?  Once identified we can pass the problem on to the appropriate 
>group/organization.  Some of this information is appropriate for our user 
>agent support page.  This topic spans both this list and the UA working 
>group list.
>b. where there are general principles that we can apply to user agents or 
>page markup, we need to pass that information on to the appropriate 
>[1] http://www.w3.org/Mobile/CCPP/
>[2] http://www.icad.org/
>wendy a chisholm
>world wide web consortium
>web accessibility initiative
>madison, wi usa
>tel: +1 608 663 6346
Received on Monday, 24 January 2000 10:48:33 UTC

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