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Re: Compliance ratings

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-edapta@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Tue, 24 Apr 2001 06:23:24 -0700
Message-Id: <a05010401b70b2c11723e@[]>
To: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>, Web Content Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
At 1:34 PM +1000 4/24/01, Jason White wrote:
>What is of greater concern, however, is that "optimizing" content for
>persons with a particular kind of disability is contrary to the notion
>of general accessibility (universal design or whatever one prefers to
>call it) which the guidelines are intended to promote.

Not necessarily.  The two approaches are not incompatible -- it is
very possible to apply a technology that allows you to automatically
create multiple interfaces, each one created to meet the needs of a
specific audience, while still promoting an overall concept of
general accessibility.

>After all,
>these guidelines are intended to answer the question: given the web
>content that I have created (or want to create), how can I make it
>accessible to as broad a range of people as practicable, in a
>non-discriminatory way? What factors will have a greater or lesser
>impact on accessibility, and of what do I need to be satisfied in
>order to claim, with reasonable justification, that, in respect of my
>web content, substantial barriers to access have been minimized?
>Separate ratings based on disability type do not appear to answer
>those questions, and they may even encourage implementors to ignore
>some requirements/disabilities in favour of others, engendering rather
>than removing discrimination.

Well, then, how would you rate something like this?

       I set up a web site built on Reef EveryWare.  The default
       presentation is single-A accessible with controls to change
       the presentation which are triple-A accessible.  These
       controls allow you to choose between a screenreader version,
       a large print/high contrast version, a limited dexterity
       version, a color-blind version, and a cognitively impaired
       version.  (Obviously by "X version" I mean "one optimized
       for users who fall into category X".)

       Within those versions, each interface applies those WCAG
       guidelines which improve accessibility for the specific
       audiences.  The screenreader version may be the equivalent
       of triple-A for blind users but only single-A for other
       users; the large print might be double-A for most audiences
       but not even single-A for others; etc.

How do you arrive at a composite rating for this, and can you really
claim that such a system may engender discrimination?

I believe that even if I removed, say, the screenreader version, that
would not mean that there would be in increase in "discrimination."
(I want to really, really caution the casual use of discrimination
in this forum, as it is a hot-button word in many cultures -- particularly
in America -- that can easily lead to application of emotion in lieu
of logic when dealing with some issues.)

Why do I feel that way?  Because the site is already (at the default
level) accessible to at least single-A, there is actually a disincentive
to go -beyond- that.  By having a pseudo-triple-A screenreader version,
the site creator has actually had to -overcome- the priority system's
disincentive.  It's only because the technology makes it easy to do
that the normal disincentive built into the traditional WCAG 1.0
compliance system is exceeded.  Without that technology -- without
the ability to optimize for specific users -- I doubt that such a
web site would ever be built in such a manner that _optimizes
usability_ for those audiences for whom the "degrades gracefully"
model provides a sub-standard user interface.

Kynn Bartlett <kynn@reef.com>
Technical Developer Liaison
Reef North America
Tel +1 949-567-7006
Received on Tuesday, 24 April 2001 10:02:01 UTC

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