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Re: Comments about Visual Friendly point of view about accessibility and WCAG

From: Wendy A Chisholm <wendy@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 04 Apr 2002 16:11:18 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: (wrong string) érôme Ernu <jernu@VisualFriendly.com>, "'w3c-wai-gl@w3.org'" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

Thank you for this analysis of making content accessible to people with 
visual disabilities and how your product and research can help web sites do 

You make many points that we have discussed within the working group. Do 
you have a specific proposal to change something in WCAG 2.0?

You describe how VisualFriendly deals with various situations, but are 
there general principles or techniques that we can suggest to 
others?  Perhaps you would like to contribute to the server-side techniques 

You said, "Specific guidelines for each impairment will improve overall
accessibility."  However, many of our current checkpoints apply to more 
than one disability, there is quite a lot of overlap.  It is our intent to 
clarify which checkpoints benefit which types of disabilities (refer to our 
Requirements document, #5 [1]). Some people have suggested we create an 
"impact matrix" by disability.

I don't think it is likely for us to write separate sets of guidelines for 
each type of disability, but we can at least show how the checkpoint that 
we do have benefit each disability.  Also, please keep in mind that people 
often have a variety of abilities/disabilities.  We try to keep that in 
mind in our work to make sure that a strategy to help one type of 
disability does not inversely effect another type of disability.


[1] http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/wcag20-requirements.html

At 03:33 AM 4/2/02, Jérôme Ernu wrote:
>Hello all,
>My name is Jerome ERNU, I am a french usability specialist working in a
>firm developping a software solution to make websites accessible for the
>visually impaired. We would like to contribute to this group in
>providing our opinion and point of view about WCAG. We will read with
>attention your feedback about this mail, but we won't be able to join
>and participate regularly to the group.
>*****WCAG and Visual Friendly*****
>Visual Friendly software adapts Web sites to make them accessible to all
>visual needs, from cases of eyestrain, through visual impairment to
>blindness. Accordingly, Visual Friendly monitors the evolution of WCAG
>guidelines and incorporates them into its software development.
>*****WCAG 2.0 ( 26 October 2001)*****
>The WCAG 2.0 document states that accessibility "can be achieved through
>a single rendering or multiple accessible renderings of the same content
>optimized for different situations".
>We understand "different situations" as being a reference not only to
>different types of information technologies (WAP, PDA, etc.), but also
>to different types of users. WCAG 1.0 permitted alternative versions of
>Web sites only under special conditions, i.e. if the content remains the
>Visual Friendly welcomes the less restrictive approach of the WCAG 2.0
>guidelines. Indeed, we believe that as long as content remains the same,
>use of alternative and adapted Web sites can considerably improve
>accessibility and usability for end users.
>*****Visual Friendly*****
>Visual Friendly software adapts Web pages according to the personal
>preferences of the individual Internet user (see
>http://www.VisualFriendly.com). Sites using Visual Friendly enable users
>to entirely customize visual formatting and Web page lay out in
>accordance with their needs, including :
>- characters size
>- colors of links, characters and key areas on screen
>- navigation toolbars position.
>  To improve usability, users can choose to:
>- move the navigation toolbars towards the top, bottom, left or right of
>the page,
>- display the text in shorthand Braille.
>In addition, various keyboard shortcuts allow users to easily locate key
>areas on page.
>Web pages are displayed according to :
>- user's legibility preferences and
>- page templates designed by usability specialists.
>These templates have been tested and validated by the target users,
>visually impaired and sighted people.
>Visual Friendly preserves the whole content of the original Web site.
>The application is based on the WAI guidelines, and also on Visual
>Friendly's research.
>*****Different users  and impairments *****
>Different types of Internet users with unique needs
>For instance WCAG 1.0 advises to include "titles" on "links" to improve
>accessibility (http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/ checkpoint 13.1). In fact, a
>display box on a mouse-over is disturbing for some visually impaired
>users (ie : people who need inverted contrast to avoid dizziness fits).
>Identifying user profiles is key to design an efficient Web site.
>However, all users are different and have individual characteristics :
>there is no "average" user, nor an "average" visually impaired user.
>This is why it is difficult to provide fully adapted accessibility for
>all users.
>WCAG guidelines aim at being generic to all impairments, although some
>guidelines are specific. We believe guidelines to be more efficient if
>they are specific for each type of impairment. For example, blind people
>do not have the same requirements as users than far-sighted users, nor
>users who need soft contrast do not have the same requirements than
>people who need strong contrast.
>Specific guidelines for each impairment will improve overall
>*****Accessibility evaluation tools*****
>Automatic tools of accessibility validation use WAI guidelines
>(specifically WCAG 1.0). Therefore they validate accessibility for any
>impairment and evaluate our customized Web sites as "inaccessible" as
>our web pages are specifically accessible to visual impaired.
>However, Visual Friendly usability experts have designed this service
>with visually impaired and user tests have demonstrated that Visual
>Friendly pages are fully accessible.
>Therefore, Visual Friendly pages should be approved as accessible.
>Is it possible to design accessibility evaluation tools for each user's
>unique situation?
>WCAG 2.0 guidelines cannot answer all specific needs.
>Providing customizable interfaces improves accessibility to the visually
>impaired: content remains unchanged, and visual appearance is adapted.
>*****Difference between technical accessibility and usability *****
>Technical accessibility is not usability
>Technical accessibility and specific resources to design Web sites
>accessibly for all is a necessary but insufficient step. A technically
>accessible Web site is not necessarily usable and easy to learn.
>For example, a retail Web site with navigation links at the top makes a
>blind user's navigation very uneasy as it forces her/him explore every
>The same site organized in a customized way enables the user to locate
>navigation areas easily and improve her/his Internet surfing, using
>shortcuts to navigate from one area to another.
>******Functional unsteadiness*****
>Navigating from one Web site to another is a learning experience for
>every user: the position of functional elements (search engine, shopping
>cart...), and sometimes even the way they function, changes. According
>to Visual Friendly users tests, the visually impaired's primary problem
>is to orient themselves on pages: where are they in relation to useful
>and meaningful page elements?. These location problems are aggravated
>with the use of screen magnifier.
>Location problems increase with the navigation on different Web sites :
>the visually impaired user's learning process on each Web site is
>difficult and painstaking.
>Providing standardized Web pages is a way to improve ease and speed of
>use for the visually impaired. This is why Visual Friendly usability
>specialists have designed adapted templates. For example, shortcuts
>enable blind users to switch from an area to another, from navigation
>toolbar to page content.
>We think that standard position and functionning will benefit to all
>users. Some particular elements sould be standardized or at least have
>specific tags (ie, the "id" tag could be used, even if it is not its
>- first level navigation
>- second level navigation
>- engine research elements
>- forms,
>- position bars...
>We think that to improve all Web sites accessibility, it is important to
>develop specific guidelines for visual impairment use.
>Visual Friendly pages have not been approved by some evaluation tools.
>However, user tests have demonstrated that Visual Friendly pages are
>fully accessible and therefore, should be approved.
>Improving technical accessibility and usability are key to design
>efficient and usable Web sites for all.
>If WG is interested in our point of view, we could do another work, with
>more specific proposal...

wendy a chisholm
world wide web consortium
web accessibility initiative
seattle, wa usa
Received on Thursday, 4 April 2002 16:02:30 UTC

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