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Re: Define Accessibility!

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 1999 13:12:09 -0700
Message-Id: <4.1.19990611130328.028f46a0@mail.idyllmtn.com>
To: Alan Cantor <acantor@oise.utoronto.ca>
Cc: IG - WAI Interest Group List <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
At 01:02 PM 6/11/1999 , Alan Cantor wrote:
>I am bothered by one aspect of my definition -- and Kynn's -- and I have
>not yet resolved it. Accessibility is never absolute. Nothing is 100%

That bothers me as well, but I realize that complete, 100%
universal accessibility is my _goal_.  It's what I strive for,
and I can't just accept "Well, no page will be accessible to
everyone, so I won't bother."  I believe that the goal should
always be "as much as possible, within the limits of
ability" and how limiting that should be is a personal
decision for the author, based on knowledge of web design,
understanding of the issues, a desire to do what's right, and
a sense of empathy.

There is a "practical limit" to how accessible a web page
can be made, in most cases, based on how much time, energy,
and money needs to be invested.  In most cases, this amount
is TRIVIAL, especially compared to the overall benefits, and
an _informed_ web author will know his.  ALT text is TRIVIAL
to do; there's absolutely no reason that, if done from the
start of a project, it should not be done.

However, if you weren't aware of web accessibility 3 years
ago and your graphics heavy site is lacking ALT text -- do
you _need_ to go back and redo it?  The "principle" -- the
higher goal to which we hold ourselves -- says "yes, it is
essential for accessibility."  However, the practical side
of life may tell me that going through 1,000 pages and 
adding individual ALT text could take me literally days to
weeks, and financial and personal decisions must be made.

In these cases, the practical WILL outweigh the principle,
regardless of whether or not we personally wish otherwise.
If I have a huge site I will not spend 100 hours correcting
it, even if I know I "should," unless I have compelling
reasons to do otherwise.  It's a benefits-vs-investment
issue, like nearly any other decision I may have to make
about my web site -- such as how to market it or how often
to update it.

Our goal should _always_ be accessibility.  Will we meet that
goal?  No, and as Alan has pointed out, by definition there
will be times that we simply CAN'T.  But we must always strive
for a bar higher than what we are comfortable with, and we
must push ourselves to make those little efforts even if
the huge efforts are currently beyond our reach.

That's my take on the "absoluteness" of accessibility.  It's
not a particularly "firm" guideline, but rather a personal

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 16:16:11 UTC

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