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eShare Usability and Accessibility (was: HWG...)

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Mon, 17 Aug 1998 08:19:51 -0700
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Someone asked about the accessibility of the software itself used
by the Guild for our online classes (including an accessibility
class!); here's an answer I gave to a similar question on one
of the Guild's mailing lists last week:

Mike Burks asked about eShare, the Guild's selected interactive
communication tool:
>My question is:
>Has this product been tested by people with disabilities to
>see if they can access it?

[I'm replying here since it addresses some of the "theory" of
accessibility, and how you balance those considerations with
other important factors.]

Hi, Mike, thanks for asking.

The Guild considered several packages for member-to-member
communication before deciding to go with eShare.  Among those
were the price (including any discounts we could receive),
the usability, the various options for connecting and using
the site, the features available to us, and the support 
available from the vendor.

In my analysis, none of existing software that offered the
capabilities we wanted had the "full level" of accessibility
I would have preferred.  However, we made sure that there
would be "back doors" that could be used -- for example, the
"chat" section of the site, despite offering clients in
Java, ActiveX, and HTML, is still one of the more potentially
inaccessible functions of eShare.  However, it _does_ allow
for IRC connections to the chat server, bypassing the HTML
interface; as an older technology, more blind-friendly IRC
clients exist, and I know of a number of visually impaired
users who communicate with IRC regularly.

As usability and accessibility issues arise, we plan to pass
these along with recommendations to the eShare developers.
There are also many options that we can set ourselves, and
simply haven't had time to as part of the configuration
process. The server is running at http://edu.hwg.org/ and
you're welcome to email me privately on any such problems
you may find.  Thanks!


Kynn Bartlett <kynn@hwg.org>
Vice President, Marketing and Outreach, HTML Writers Guild
Received on Monday, 17 August 1998 11:10:22 UTC

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