W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-gl@w3.org > April to June 2001

Re: can accessibility be distinguished from usability?

From: Matt May <mcmay@bestkungfu.com>
Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001 23:08:44 -0700
Message-ID: <01ed01c0cfa9$be0cb3a0$6601a8c0@sttln1.wa.home.com>
To: "Anne Pemberton" <apembert@erols.com>
Cc: "Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
----- Original Message -----
From: "Anne Pemberton" <apembert@erols.com>
> Well said!!! I especially liked the last ... I, too, want to see a single
> guidelines, not a list of required stuff and lists of recommended stuff
> that can be ignored. There is no way to make anything "required reading",

How can browser vendors ensure that their product satisfies the
specification without at least the implicit requirement that they understand
the issues affecting them? For that matter, how did anyone pass freshman
English without reading what was required of them?

WCAG is designed to be an educational and informational resource to content
providers just like the HTML spec is a resource to the people who make use
of the language. Saying that developing an understanding of the principles
we're trying to espouse is a requirement isn't impossible: it's what we're
here to do.

> If the guidelines separate some needs from others for disabled people,
> will be engaging in the same types of discrimination that they protest
> against. If the needs of the cognitively disabled are dismissable, or
> relegated to "if you can and want to", how can there be any serious
> for the needs of the sensorily disabled?

Nobody is saying cognitive issues are "dismissable." What we are saying, and
what I have yet to see refuted, is that there is content that cannot be
condensed or simplified to meet a certain reading level or cognitive
profile, and that we have no rules we can present that can quantifiably
improve accessibility for everyone under the umbrella of "cognitively
disabled." As such, that means our options as they have been presented to us
is to create a baseline and determine for content providers what suits their
content, or supply the content providers with information on how they can
communicate their content most effectively, and let them use that
information in context to make their site more accessible. If there is
another option, I would like it to be presented.

I think that there have been several recent postings describing the issues
involved with cognitive disabilities as they relate to designing web sites.
Gregg's comments in the 4/26 minutes, I think, are an excellent starting
point for discussing the pitfalls of trying to create a standard that
satisfies all levels and manifestations of cognitive disability. I think
it's important to furthering this discussion that you respond to these

>GV: My problem is that we started off with guidelines for accessibility,
>now we are getting deep into usability, and I think we have no business
>And for each item we add, we need to realize we are weakening every other
>item. I will be leading a movement to try to elimate about a third of the
>guidelines. I feel we've lost focus on accessibility issues. Or we need to
>divide this into two parts, one section for accessibility and one section
>for web design, good advice, etc. Our definition of priority 1 is that
>the guideline, there are people who won't be able to use the content. If
>we don't make pages targeted for people with an IQ of 40, they won't be
>able to use them. If we don't make these guidelines priority 1 for these
>people, they'll be excluded. Anytime a website isn't dead simple, there
>will be some people who won't be able to use it, but we can't make all
>websites dead simple.


>GV: These are the nuances we don't want to lose. This is where we see the
>difference between cognition problems and vision problems. We can't deal
>with complete cognitive disability. It becomes a questino of how much of
>the bottom we are going to chop off.
>KHS: We need to decide that question.
>GV: There will be a lot of flack when we do, but we need to do it. We will
>exclude some people. I don't know where it starts or stops, though. If we
>say we will only worry about people at a certain level of cognitive
>we are doing the same things as the marketing people who say that are only
>targeting customers without disabilities.

Received on Saturday, 28 April 2001 02:12:45 UTC

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