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Accessibility and Usability

From: Gregg Vanderheiden <GV@TRACE.WISC.EDU>
Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2002 23:35:52 -0600
To: <goliver@accease.com>
Cc: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <008501c1a7bd$a74132d0$066fa8c0@laptop600>
Hi Graham  

Jason is correct that we decided after a long discussion at one of our
weekly work sessions that trying to differentiate between them just
wasn't going to work --  and that it didn't help us solve the issues
before us anyway.    We found that if we worked on the wording and
concepts of the individual items -- that we made more progress.  Hence
his suggestion.

If you are interested in all the details you can look up the minutes but
the long and short of some of the major items were:

1) Something that is categorizes as usability to someone with more
ability may be the thing that enables someone with less ability to use a
product or web site at all --- hence it would be accessibility.

2) Accessibility can only be talked about in the context of specific
people.  Products are not accessible.  (That is, they are not usable by
everyone).   They are accessible to this or that person or those people.
Or they may meet this or that accessibility standard.   But they are not
accessible as an absolute status since not everyone can use them.

3) Accessibilty is also context or activity dependent.    The same
person may not need to enter numbers quickly on their TV remote control,
but may find that slow entry on their workstation if they are an
accountant would cause them to lose their job.  The system would not be
considered accessible to them if the means of access was so roundabout
that it took them 10-20 times as long to enter numbers as their

Now each of these statements can also be debated  and/or tuned for
wording etc.  So we decided to not go any further in trying to
differentiate the two since it was clear that some members clearly did
not see them as separate while others thought they might be.     So we
decided to move on and develop guidelines without trying to separate
them into one category or another.   

If you feel that you have the clear distinction -- please do go ahead
and post it.  But the working group decided not to debate it anymore at
this point based on what it knew.


Gregg Van 

> -----Original Message-----
> From: w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org] On
> Of goliver@accease.com
> Sent: Sunday, January 27, 2002 3:07 PM
> To: jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.EDU.AU; wendy@w3.org
> Cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
> Subject: Re: suggestions for where working group members can get
> Hi Jason
> I am confused <grin>.
> 1.
> I got a different response from Wendy on this issue
> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-gl/2002JanMar/0193.html
> 2.
> In relation to your statement
> 'Thus I would suggest making your argument without
> relying on this supposed distinction'
> I have no 'argument', the intended work was to put
> forward a number of ways of distinguishing between
> accessibility and usability. That was it.
> The intention being that this would be in some way
> useful to the working group.
> I was responding to Wendy's request to get involved
> where she refered to the to the issues document.
> The specific issue being number 55.
> http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/wcag20-issues.html#55
> I certainly don't want to engage in work that is not
> necessary, so would appreciate if you could give me
> some *joint* guidance on this.
> Won't do anything until I get your response.
> Cheers
> Graham
> On Sat, 26 January 2002, Jason White wrote
> >
> > goliver@accease.com writes:
> >  > Wendy
> >  > Issue number 55
> >  >
> >  > http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/wcag20-issues.html#55
> >  >
> >  > talks about the accessibilty / usability conundrum.
> >  >
> >  > I would like to volunteer to do the following
> >  >
> >  > 1. Suggest several ways of creating the distinction
> >  > between usability and accessibility based on prior
> list
> >  > discussion and my own 2 NZ cents worth (remember
> thats
> >  > not much in your money :-)
> >  >
> >  > 2. Post this to the list and try and reach
> consensus on
> >  > what we mean by accessibility and what we mean by
> >  > usability, in terms of WCAG 2.0.
> >
> > This has been discussed before at meetings. The group
> agreed to drop
> > the usability/accessibility distinction and instead
> to rely on other
> > terms and concepts in making decisions relevant to
> the guidelines.
> > Thus I would suggest making your argument without
> relying on this
> > supposed distinction, unless you ahve a good,
> compelling reason to
> > reopen the issue.
> AccEase Ltd : Making on-line information accessible
> Phone : +64 9 846 6995
> Email : goliver@accease.com
Received on Monday, 28 January 2002 00:35:50 UTC

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