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RE: Definition of human testability

From: John M Slatin <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>
Date: Mon, 3 May 2004 10:30:37 -0500
Message-ID: <C46A1118E0262B47BD5C202DA2490D1A1E3123@MAIL02.austin.utexas.edu>
To: "Yvette P. Hoitink" <y.p.hoitink@heritas.nl>, "WAI-GL" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

"Good design is accessible design." 


-----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 10:11 am
To: 'WAI-GL'
Subject: RE: Definition of human testability

John Slatin wrote:
> 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 informatics.

But this is exactly the point I'm trying to make: there is a whole range
of learning disabilities out there. Your test method gives a false
impression of accessibility for people with learning disabilities! 

Just because some people with certain learning disabilities find the
text clearly written, doesn't mean the the text is clear for "people
with learning accessibilities" in general. The text can be perfectly
clear for people with dyslexia or ADD but not for someone with Down's
syndrom or a brain injury. Your method is like asking a person with
limited vision to test the accessibility for all people with vision
problems (including blind people using braille). 

Ah. I see I didn't make myself clear enough [sic].  I wasn't proposing
that such a test would legitimize a claim that your text would be clear
to *all*  possible users of the Web.  I don't believe that all Web
content should have to meet that test, which would mean that financial
experts couldn't publish technical reports; scientists couldn't publish
research findings; anthropologists couldn't publish studies of the
strange cultural practices of people trying to write accessibility
standards; etc.  I don't want to prevent people from writing for
specialized audiences! But I would like for people doing such writing to
integrate into their basic assumptions about their audiences the
*assumption* that the audience includes people with disabilities,
including learning disabilities.

One of the provisions in US disability law says that the prohibition
against discriminating against students on the basis of disability does
not require colleges and universities to change the fundamental
character of their academic programs-- for example, universities do not
have to lower their admissions standards in order to accommodate
students who have disabilities.  What's required is that students with
disabilities be given appropriate opportunities to demonstrate their
knwledge and skill in order to gain admission, and that they be given
appropriate opportunities to learn alongside their non-disabled peers.
There are certain things people must know in order to become organic
chemists; people have to know those things whether they have
disabilities or not.  But some people may require different kinds of
support in order to gain that knowledge.  But that doesn't mean that
chemists can no longer use the names of complex molecules or the
technical terms for the processes they're studying.

Yvette Hoitink
Heritas, Enschede, the Netherlands
E-mail: y.p.hoitink@heritas.nl
WWW: http://www.heritas.nl
Received on Monday, 3 May 2004 11:30:56 UTC

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