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RE: Multiple versions of a page

From: phoenixl <phoenixl@sonic.net>
Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2002 21:14:39 -0800
Message-Id: <200203260514.g2Q5Edfq017169@newbolt.sonic.net>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Hi,

Here's a note I posted to CHI-WEB about the article:

http://infocentre.frontend.com/servlet/Infocentre?access=no&page=article&rows=5&id=286

Scott

--------------------------------------------------------------

Hi,

I think the article "Text-only is not accessible" had a couple good
points and also some weak points.  The article didn't make very clear
what definition of "web page accessibility" was being used in the
article.  There are at least a couple of definitions.  One defintion is
concerned about the disabled person being able to use a web page.
Another definition considers whether a disabled person can use a web
page with minimal disadvantage in a competitive environment like school
or work.

I agree with the author's comment that "Text-only websites are not
suited to all users with impairments." However, the author doesn't
differentiate about the impact that different disabilities can have on
interacting with web pages.  For example, blindness can fairly strongly
impact how a blind person can work with web pages.  In my case, I am a
quadriplegic and my disability generally has much less impact on my
using web pages.

The author refers to "partially sighted" users without clarifying what
is meant.  The term "partially sighted" is somewhat braod.  A person who
is extremely near-sighted  may find images distracting while following
text.  Other "partially sighted" people may have have visual fields
where their vision is clearer and other areas where it is not.  With
this type of partial sightedness, images and color may be helpful.

Currently it is not clear what the best ways may be for improving
accessibility for people where there might be cognitive concerns.  For
example, providing an accomodation for a person with one type of
cognitive challenge may cause problems for a person for a different
cognitive concern.  One person may have cognitive problems processing
visual information and may prefer more text which can be read to them.
Another person may have problems reading text and prefer more images
with much less text.

Perhaps, a better way to approach the accessibility of text pages is to
understand that disabilities may be divided into at least a couple of
categories.  One category of disability could be those which could
substantially benefit from web pages which are primarily text,  Another
category of disability is one where those disabilities may not have
substantial benefit from a web page which is primarily text.

An approach could be to take the standard web page and tweak it enough
that it has some more support for people with disabilities who won't
have significant benefit from web pages which are primarily text.  A
question which needs to be determined is how much tweaking is needed.

The issue of maintaining multiple versions  of a web page is more of a
technological issue.  If web pages are dynamically  generated from
databases, there is less chance for version skew.  Or, perhaps web page
editors could be written where they can keep different versions of a web
page in sync.

The issue of perception and disabled people is still a matter of
perception.  For example, many blind people do not feel marginalized
because they use Braille.  There are many blind people who strongly
advocate for Braille which they see as fairly equivalent to print and of
equal value even if it is different than print.

I believe that a weak point in the author's arguement is that he doesn't
use much empircal evidence in his analysis.  For example, he is
suggesting that tables can be used as long as they linearize well.
However, he doesn't go into detail about how much effort or time is
needed to learn what linearization is, to determine if a table will
linearize well or to fix linearization problems.  There doesn't seem to
be any references to timing blind users to see how quickly they can
navigate web sites as compared to sighted users.  References to actual
failure analyses about mistakes made by people with different
disabilities seem to be missing.

Scott
Received on Tuesday, 26 March 2002 00:14:41 GMT

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