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RE: Definition of human testability

From: Yvette P. Hoitink <y.p.hoitink@heritas.nl>
Date: Mon, 3 May 2004 16:33:00 +0200
To: "'WAI-GL'" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-Id: <20040503143202.86BBCA100F@frink.w3.org>

John Slatin wrote:

> I think Gregg's assertion that it would be impossible for a 
> group users to agree whether a particular text was "written 
> clearly" or not is incorrect.
> It might be difficult to get 100% agreement among a large 
> group of reviewers.  But it might well be possible to get 80% 
> or even 90% agreement in some situations.

Hello John and list,

I don't think you can rate the clarity of the text without taking the target
audience into account.  When I read "write clearly" I automatically ask
myself "for whom?". There is an entire spectrum of learning disabilities,
ranging from people with a 100+ IQ with dyslexia to people with brain damage
who have an IQ of 60-. "Write clearly" for the first audience requires
totally different strategies than writing clearly for the second audience.

For example: I'm writing a paper about machine learning in natural language
processing, aimed at people in the domain like my professors. This text uses
domain specific terminology like "k-nearest neighbor algorithm", "recall
versus precision", "information gain" etc. This text will be perfectly clear
to my intended audience (people in the domain of machine learning and/or
natural language processing), but I expect it won't be very understandable
to anyone else. In fact, if I wrote it in terms that someone with a severe
learning disability would understand, I doubt the paper would get accepted
in a conference.

Would you require me to rewrite the text so it will be understandable by
someone with a learning disability? Or can I draw the line somewhere and say
"this subject matter is just to complex to describe in such a way that
people with a (severe) learning disability will understand it." 

In my opinion, this makes "write clearly" very difficult to test if the
testers are not a part of the target audience. And I'm not sure we want to
open the cesspit of 'target audience' because we do not want to open the
door for people to say "people with disabilities do not belong to my target

However I dislike excluding people from my audience on the basis of a
disability, sometimes it's just inevitable for the same reasons blind people
will not be driving instructors, and deaf people will not be conductors of
an orchestra. 

Yvette Hoitink
Heritas, Enschede, the Netherlands
E-mail: y.p.hoitink@heritas.nl
WWW: http://www.heritas.nl
Received on Monday, 3 May 2004 10:32:02 UTC

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