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Other Advantages of Accessible Web Design Practices

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 1999 11:19:15 -0700
Message-Id: <4.1.19990611110741.028b13b0@mail.idyllmtn.com>
To: Anne Pemberton <apembert@crosslink.net>
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
At 05:10 AM 6/11/1999 , Anne Pemberton wrote:
>At 06:37 PM 6/10/1999 -0700, Kynn Bartlett wrote:
>>* (non-blind users) There are many extra benefits, such as search
>>  engine placement and PDA accessibility, for creating an
>>  accessible web site, even if the content doesn't immediately
>>  appear to be something that would interest people with
>>  disabilities.

>This statement confuses me. I don't know what PDA accessibility is and I
>have made web pages before I knew much about accessibility so certainly
>didn't follow "principles of accessible web design", and it was coming up
>in the first five on search engines (to my surprise, I will add).

I will explain; there are two issues there:

* If you create a web page that is purely graphics, the search
  engines will not have any _text_ to index, since most of the
  spider-based full text search sites construct their index
  based solely upon textual content.  If you include ALT text,
  then the search engines have something they can use to create
  their index, and thus your site may appear higher in 
  searches, driving people to your site.

* Many people think that cross-browser design means looking _back_,
  to "older browsers that don't support the latest technology,"
  such as Lynx.  However, there is a growing population of users
  who are "early adopters" and use technologically _advanced_ tools
  that nevertheless have physical limitations.  The largest example
  of this type are the people using "PDAs" -- personal digital
  assistants -- such as the Palm Pilot or Windows CE machines.
  Also in this category are Internet-enabled cellular phones and
  pagers.  The technical challenges of gadgets are similar to
  those of older or specialized browsers -- limited bandwidth and
  display area, and thus no graphics; likely no sound; etc.

Both of these are examples of how the "special accomodations
for disabled people" actually can benefit a much broader audience,
just as physical curb cuts on sidewalks assist people in wheelchairs
AND make life better for a number of other people with or without
physical disabilities.

Part of the neat thing about creating an accessible web site
is that it's not just "for the handicapped," but it's "for
everyone" and vastly improves the site's usability and functionality.
This is one of the key points for instructing web designers about
creating accessible web sites -- it's not just a "nice thing to
do for the disabled", it's a great idea overall, since it makes
for a good site.

>>* (non-blind users) Many users of visual web browsers do indeed
>>  surf with images off by default, myself included.

>Those who choose to use web pages other than as intended are really not a
>concern. This isn't a matter of accessibility. 

I would say that you are incorrect in your statement above.
One of the primary principles of the web is the concept of
platform independence and interoperability; the user's
preferences must come first.  If someone chooses to use the
web without images, that is as equally valid and reasonable
of use of the web as someone who does choose to see the images.

Accessibility is about _everyone_ being able to access the
information -- not just about a certain set of people.

Kynn Bartlett                                    mailto:kynn@hwg.org
President, HTML Writers Guild                    http://www.hwg.org/
AWARE Center Director                          http://aware.hwg.org/
Received on Friday, 11 June 1999 14:41:54 UTC

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