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RE: Definition of human testability

From: John M Slatin <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>
Date: Mon, 3 May 2004 09:50:26 -0500
Message-ID: <C46A1118E0262B47BD5C202DA2490D1A0183AF32@MAIL02.austin.utexas.edu>
To: "Yvette P. Hoitink" <y.p.hoitink@heritas.nl>, "WAI-GL" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

Good question, Yvette.

In the case you describe-- a paper on machine learning intended for
specialists in that or related fields-- I think the appropriate way to
conduct user testing for clarity would be to include people who have
learning disabilities who are knowledgeable about machine learning or
related fields.  I think there are at least a few people on this list
who have learning disabilities and who have expertise in advanced


"Good design is accessible design." 
Please note our new name and URL!
John Slatin, Ph.D.
Director, Accessibility Institute
University of Texas at Austin
FAC 248C
1 University Station G9600
Austin, TX 78712
ph 512-495-4288, f 512-495-4524
email jslatin@mail.utexas.edu
web http://www.utexas.edu/research/accessibility/


-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org] On
Behalf Of Yvette P. Hoitink
Sent: Monday, May 03, 2004 9:33 am
To: 'WAI-GL'
Subject: RE: Definition of human testability

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 audience". 

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 11:05:52 UTC

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