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[2.1] Conformance if no device with keyboard exists

From: Yvette P. Hoitink <y.p.hoitink@heritas.nl>
Date: Thu, 11 Dec 2003 20:42:06 +0100
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-Id: <E1AUWhR-0002G9-F8@smtp2.home.nl>

Hi list,

While preparing for the meeting tonight, I once again read guideline 2.1
about "Ensure that Interface Elements in the Content are Operable by Any

Here it says:

"If it's written to be used with a device that doesn't have a keyboard, but
it could also be used by similar devices that do and it would work with
their keyboard, it conforms. 

If it's written to work with devices that do not have keyboards and it can
not be used by any other devices that do have keyboards, then it does not
conform. (It cannot be accessed via keyboard.)"

I have a few problems with this. I tried to see if these have been mentioned
before but could not find it in the mailinglist archives. Feel free to point
out any previous discussions to me if I'm just re-iterating something that
has already been discussed at length.

My questions are:

* How available should a device with a keyboard interface be before you can
say the functionality conforms? 
If a handy toolman creates a one-off device with a keyboard to help his
blind cousin operate the functionality, a device with a keyboard interface
exists but since it's not available to other people I would not say it
solves anyone else's accessibility problems.

* How is an author supposed to know about the range of devices out there
that are meant to help people with disabilities? 
I have seen many assistive devices created for people with disabilities that
I previously had no idea existed. Authors who don't know a lot about
disabilities, may not be aware of devices that are created to allow people
to operate functionality by keyboard. Do we require the authors to research
whether these devices have been created?

* How is the author supposed to keep up with what's out there? New devices
are created every day. What if a device exists today, but is taken from the
market tomorrow? Does the functionality conform? Do we require a constant
effort to check whether there is still a keyboard operated device out there
which can operate the functionality?

I think it's to much to ask of the author to adept his web content on the
basis of the existence of devices with a keyboard interface. Therefore, I
think we should drop the requirements for devices that do not have a
keyboard. Otherwise we're saying you cannot write WCAG-compliant content for
devices that do not have keyboards or variants with keyboards, which I think
would be a very bad development. 

If we drop these requirements for keyboard-only devices, authors for those
devices can still conform to WCAG. This will make hopefully stimulate the
creation of accessible content for these devices. This will in turn increase
the chance that someone will create a variant of the device with a keyboard

Yvette Hoitink
CEO Heritas, Enschede, The Netherlands
Received on Thursday, 11 December 2003 14:42:16 UTC

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