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RE: Definition of human testability

From: John M Slatin <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>
Date: Mon, 3 May 2004 11:18:19 -0500
Message-ID: <C46A1118E0262B47BD5C202DA2490D1A1E3124@MAIL02.austin.utexas.edu>
To: "John M Slatin" <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>, "Yvette P. Hoitink" <y.p.hoitink@heritas.nl>, "WAI-GL" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

Just a reminder that the current working draft of WCAG 2.0 does *not* require people to "write clearly" or "simply."

The "clear and simple" requirement is in WCAG 1.0 [1], where Guideline 14 requires  authors to "Ensure that documents are clear and simple" and Checkpoint 14.1 reads as follows:

14.1 Use the clearest and simplest language appropriate for a site's content. [Priority 1] 

In the 11 March 2004 Working Draft of WCAG 2.0 [2],
Guideline 3.1 states: "Ensure that the meaning of content can be determined"

Under this guideline, Level 3 Success Criterion #4 requirs:
4. There is a statement associated with the content asserting that the Strategies for Reducing the Complexity of Content (the following list) were considered.

That list-- while still problematic in many respects-- does not instruct anyone to "write clearly."  It also specifically includes suggested strategies for reducing the complexity of highly technical documents written for specialized audiences.  Some of these could be made testable.  For example, the items about use of controlled languages and/or plain language lexicons could conceivably be addressed by linking to the appropriate lexicon, e.g., <link rel="glossary" href="myplainlanguagelexicon.com"> etc.  Similarly, the suggestion about using a style manual could be met by a statement on the site or in metadata indicating which manual was used.  Style manuals are useful for standardizing citation formats, for example, or providing a way to resolve disagreements about puncuation, capitalization, and so forth.

The success criterion (Guideline 3.1 L3 SC4) doesn't require that every suggested strategy be implemented in order to claim conformance.  It only requires an assertion that the suggested strategies have been considered.  This is problematic, too, but it does at least allow room for judgment on the author's part.


[1] http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/

"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 John M Slatin
Sent: Monday, May 03, 2004 10:31 am
To: Yvette P. Hoitink; WAI-GL
Subject: RE: Definition of human testability

"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 12:18:20 UTC

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