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RE: Call to embrace new technologies (Was: RE: issue with Guideline 4.2 )

From: Gregg Vanderheiden <gv@trace.wisc.edu>
Date: Sat, 18 Dec 2004 13:58:10 -0600
To: "'Yvette P. Hoitink'" <y.p.hoitink@heritas.nl>, <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <auto-000187125717@spamarrest.com>

This is a tough question.

   - do we really want to say that something is accessible if it cannot be
used by people with disabilities -- but theoretically could if someday
someone made a tool that allowed it?

If so then should we remove the requirement for alt text for images of text
because theoretically someday you could make a tool that would read the text
right off the image?   

These two seem the same except on is new and one is old technology.  

Still - it is a tough question. 


 -- ------------------------------ 
Gregg C Vanderheiden Ph.D. 
Professor - Ind. Engr. & BioMed Engr.
Director - Trace R & D Center 
University of Wisconsin-Madison 

I would like to go even further and propose to delete the entire success
criteria that there must be at least one  UAAG-compliant user agent for the
chosen technology. 

I strongly think WCAG 2 should embrace new technologies. Technology and
accessible user agents are a chicken-and-egg thing. If we require to use
only technologies for which UAAG *-compliant user agents exist, you can't
use a new technology that doesn't already have accessible UA's. That means
that only people who do not care about accessibility use that new technology
and the accessibility features are never used, to the manufacturers don't
see the need to support those features. This leaves a lot of people in the

If, on the other hand, we say you can write your content on the (initially
false) assumption that there is a user agent that is UAAG *-compliant,
people will use the accessibility features of the technology and
manufacturers will see the need to support the accessibility features. 

We have seen with WCAG 1 and Flash what can happen if we set a high bar on
new technologies. Some of my own clients decided not to make parts of their
website accessible because they really wanted to use the capabilities of
Flash and did not have the resources to make an equivalent accessible
alternative as well. They didn't use the accessibility features of Flash
because that would cost extra work and they thought that wouldn't help
accessibility because they still would not conform to the minimum level of
WCAG 1. This means that even now that Flash plug-ins support accessibility
features, their Flash content is still inaccessible. I really want to avoid
this situation in WCAG 2. 

A simple fact of life is that organizations WILL use new technologies
(unless forced by legislation). Instead of forbidding that, let's tell them
how to use the technologies in an accessible manner so more people will have
access to that content in the long run!

Yvette Hoitink
Heritas, Enschede, the Netherlands
E-mail: y.p.hoitink@heritas.nl
WWW: http://www.heritas.nl
Received on Saturday, 18 December 2004 19:58:18 UTC

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