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Compliance ratings

From: Paul Bohman <paulb@cpd2.usu.edu>
Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2001 17:16:28 -0600
Message-ID: <019f01c0cc4b$6ca4d850$20117b81@paul>
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
This email is going to be a bit of a departure from recent threads in the
discussion. In some ways I might be jumping the gun with the idea in this
email, since we are not deciding priority levels at this point, but I would
like to get the idea out in the open, even if we decide that it is a
discussion item for the future.

In recent discussions, the point has been brought up that certain guidelines
will have little or no importance to some types of disabilities, while the
same items may be of supreme importance to other types of disabilities. This
dilemma is not easily solved, and I haven't come to any conclusions as to
the best way to solve the problem, but I'd like to present an idea (which
perhaps is not original) on how it might be solved.

Maybe it would be best to rank the accessibility of a page or a site on four
different criteria:
1. accessibility to people with visual disabilities
2. accessibility to people with hearing disabilities
3. accessibility to people with motor disabilities
4. accessibility to people with cognitive/neurological disabilities.

I have drawn up a concept sketch of what the W3C approval icon might look
like, and I am including it as an attachment in this email to help
illustrate the concept.

Here is the text description of the icon and its purpose:

In the upper left corner is the W3C logo, with the word "Accessibility"
below it. To the right of these words it says "WCAG 2.0". To the right of
these elements are four icons: an eye, an ear, a hand, and a brain (at least
it's supposed to look like a brain-all of these icons could use a little
work). Each of the icons represents a category of disabilities (visual,
hearing, motor, and cognitive/neurological). Below each of these icons is
the rating for each of the disability types. In this case, the rating for
visual disabilities is Triple-A. For hearing disabilities, it is Double-A.
For Motor disabilities it is Single-A, and for Cognitive/Neurological
disabilities, it is Double-A.

The icon is for a hypothetical page or site, but I'm using it just as a

Possible benefits of this rating system:
1. It would be easy to quickly tell whether or not a page has been optimized
for a particular disability type (in the page author's estimation, at least)
2. Meta tags, alt tags or other information could be associated with a page
to make it easier for search engines to index pages that are optimized for
certain disability types.
3. Perhaps the _MOST IMPORTANT_ benefit, however, would be that the rating
system actually means something for each disability type. Hypothetically
speaking, we won't be forced to relegate some guidelines that are very
important to people with cognitive disabilities into a lower priority level.
4. The use of icons is a step in the right direction for those with
cognitive disabilities.

Possible drawbacks include:
1. The rating system becomes more complex, in that there are four ratings
per page or site, rather than one (although I would argue that such a rating
system is more meaningful)
2. The icon becomes bigger (with more graphical content), which may deter
its use
3. This system isn't 100% backward-compatible with the original version
(1.0). (Still, there is an element of backward-compatibility, in that I
haven't discarded the Single-A, Double-A, Triple-A system entirely).

I'm sure there are other possible benefits and drawbacks as well. I'm not
100% convinced that this is the best way to proceed, but I think the idea
has potential, and it merits discussion.

Paul Bohman
Technology Coordinator
WebAIM: Web Accessibility in Mind (www.webaim.org)
Center for Persons with Disabilities (www.cpd.usu.edu)
Utah State University (www.usu.edu)

(image/gif attachment: wcaglogo.gif)

Received on Monday, 23 April 2001 19:15:34 UTC

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