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Re: can accessibility be distinguished from usability?

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Sat, 28 Apr 2001 22:29:28 -0400 (EDT)
To: Matt May <mcmay@bestkungfu.com>
cc: William Loughborough <love26@gorge.net>, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.30.0104282209430.26702-100000@tux.w3.org>
The Access board set out to make some legislative requirements for
accessibility. They took a specification of "The things that must, should or
may be done to ensure accessibility", and examined it, along with their own
policy and legal framework. What they came out with is a policy adjudged
appropriate for that scenario.

In another scenario, the Australian government took the same document, and
its (rather different) policy framework. It decided that the best it could
produce is a reference to the WCAG as the specification which best outlines
what must, should, and may be done to ensure accessibility.
Different scenarios again exist in Canada, in the European parliament, in
individual european countries, in Japan, New Zealand, and in the rest of the
world (which is most of it, but I know most about a small fraction of the

I agree that we are not (and are not qualified for) setting policy, let alone
international policy. We are providing information about what is required to
ensure accessibility. Whether each of those things is an appropriate
rquirement for implementation isn given circumstances depends on the
circumstances - in a situation where there are resource constraints,
particular audience, some particular set of skills and technology available
and timing constraints there may be an appraoch to implementation that is
different from another situation where the circumstances are different.


On Sat, 28 Apr 2001, Matt May wrote:
  I'm going to try to deconstruct things for a second.
  When WCAG 1 was created, the WAI went out via education and outreach (which,
  if I have it right, you're a member of) to approach content providers and
  governmental organizations. One of these groups, the Access Board, took the
  WCAG checkpoints and tried to divine their intent in the formation of
  Section 508, and left out a lot of things this working group thought were
  valuable. It seems like you're saying we should be putting out all of our
  knowledge as policy, whether or not it's followed in full. All we differ
  upon, then, is the format in which we present that knowledge.

  Now, where we are no more than expert witnesses to government (except,
  perhaps, as lawmakers in absentia), we are policing web developers through
  the compliance system, and that's where I see a more essential need to
  educate than mandate. We cannot say we know how all forms of content are
  best communicated in the web medium. What we do know is that there are
  people who have this set/these sets of problems, and these practices may
  help some of them. Insofar as a number of them are contradictory (e.g.,
  multimedia for discoverability/distractability), what we have to do is
  transfer knowledge to the developers so that they can do their best, not
  frustrate them with that contradiction.
Received on Saturday, 28 April 2001 22:29:41 UTC

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