W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > April to June 1999

Re: QED & Marshall McLuhan

From: Anne Pemberton <apembert@crosslink.net>
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 20:48:59 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
At 06:26 PM 6/10/1999 -0700, Kynn Bartlett wrote:
>>I would include any sites that provide useful local information, such as
>>bus, train, airline, or TV schedules. Whether the sites that collect PHD
>>dissertations are accessible is not my concern because they do not usually
>>include information of interest to the population in question.
>When you start making judgment calls such as this is where you
>venture into shaky ground -- I've heard many designers of highly
>graphical web sites state that they don't have to make their
>sites accessible to the blind, because the blind aren't their
>target audience.  Before you can disqualify certain people from
>"access" to a certain site, you need to be careful you're not
>deciding _for them_.

I was trying to be a bit accommodating to those who are aghast at the idea
of providing accessibility to people they feel themselves better than. 

Thus it
>is important that all levels of a web site have at least minimal
>functional accessibility.

Good point. Again, I was trying to minimize the aghastness!

>Do you believe that a site's "accessibility" (understandability)
>should be dependent upon the intended audience, the actual audience,
>or a theoretical "minimal standard" for the web, such as writing all
>material for the WWW at a third grade (U.S. education system)
>reading level?

Depends on the content. The actual audience should be the target, and some
information needs to comply with a "minimal standard" because the actual
audience is broad enough to include those who would need the 3rd grade level.

>Can you offer any advice to web authors that would help them
>determine beforehand what comprehension level to aim for, or,
>like you, will they need to continually assess their sites and
>see if simplification/"dumbing down" of all content is

Again, it depends on content, but a pretty good "rule of thumb" would be to
aim for a 5/6th grade reading level for complex information and a 3/4th
grade level for basic necessary information (such as how to apply for an
SSI check or food stamps). Some book publishers stretch the limits by
including definitions, explanations, and pictures for words that go past
the limit. This is easy to do on the web, allowing the user to click on the
word for meaning either in text, or perhaps on a sound bite, would make it
possible to present a text with a higher reading level that can be used by
someone functioning on a lower level. 

>Is it advisable to offer different versions of the same information,
>at different reading levels?  E.g., here's one for 7th grade reading
>level, here's one for 3rd?  (BTW, it occurs to me that this part
>of the discussion might be opaque to those of you who are un-
>familiar with the US education system.  When I was in grade N,
>I was N+5 years old, if that helps for reference.)  If you chose
>such a route, how would you label such levels without being

Kids don't usually understand such things as "reading levels", but they do
follow age levels. The hitch comes when a ten-year old needs material
written for an eight year old, and it worsens when a sixteen year old
discovers he/she can understand only the eight year old version. Perhaps
just "Easy" "Regular" and "Detailed" (with of course corresponding icons),
would work.  The idea of different versions is a very good one. Detailed
could be at an upper high school or college reading level with appropriate
maps and charts (minimum), and regular at 6-8th grade with moderate levels
of multi-media, with easy at about 2-3rd grade with maximum graphics, sound
bites, etc. [For non-US: grade = form. grade = age - five]. To accommodate
the range of needs, another level for Post Graduate may be necessary ...
I'm seeing the things I need to do to the Five Forks site on the next
update .... determine what level each page is at, and develop the other
levels ... hmmmm.... sounds like something I'd need to find a grant to
cover the development of ...  a lot of work ... (and I originally set out
to do a quick little project to show teachers how easy it is to do a web
page with content - esp. quick - but it never ends - it always needs
upgrading to the newest ideas and possibilities, plus addition of photos
from descendents of participants who e-mail me from the site!- doing the
presentation wasn't the end of the project!)

	Whew, it's getting late, and I've been on this thread it seems like all
evening. I was to expect a lot of work to bring my ideas to this forum, and
I believe it! Have a good evening, or good day whenever you get this...


Anne L. Pemberton
Enabling Support Foundation
Received on Thursday, 10 June 1999 23:00:21 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Tuesday, 13 October 2015 16:21:04 UTC