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Poll results for ...And Access for All

From: Bruce Bailey <bbailey@clark.net>
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 09:28:48 -0500
To: <editors@webreview.com>
Cc: "Web Accessibility Initiative" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <000701bf7953$4dfaed00$1aac66a7@151877>
Dear Sirs,

I was intrigued by the results to your question:

> The W3C has established accessibility standards
> (WAI) [sic, should be "WCAG"] to help people with
> disabilities access information on the Web.  Are you
> paying attention to those standards on your site?

The vast majority (95%+) of sites do NOT satisfy the Priority 1 Checkpoints
of the WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, even though IMHO addressing
these points ain't all that hard!  Granted, your visitors may be more
enlighten than most, but there is a significant disconnect here since almost
half of the respondents reported that they were aware of this issue!

I think people have a strong tendency to self-report that they are "aware"
of issues that they haven't really taken the time to consider.  I submit
that if you were to ask a well-crafted but nonsensical yes/no question like:
"Are you aware of that there might be a possible connection between
nanotechnology and cancer?" about a third of your respondents will think to
themselves "Well, I hadn't heard that before, but now I have" and check the
"yes" button!

Giving your visitors the benefit of doubt, about half said that they were
paying attention to accessibility standards.  I would thus encourage you to
offer a follow-up poll that tries to get at what are the real impediments to
implementing "electronic curb-cuts".  I would have guessed that the biggest
problem was ignorance about the issue, but your poll seems to discount that

Q)  Why aren't more web sites accessible to people with disabilities who
rely upon assistive technology (AT) to use a computer?
Some suggested answer categories:
A)  The assistive technology is not good enough.
B)  The people who use AT are not very sophisticated computer users.
C)  There are not clear guidelines for content providers to follow.
D)  It cost too much to make a web site accessible.
E)  It is too expensive to make a web site accessible.
F)  Content providers are not aware of the issue.
G)  Content providers don't care about the issue.
H)  This is a trick question, most web sites ARE accessible.

By the way, A,B,C & H are plainly wrong (I can explain if you like), but I
bet some people pick them anyway.  D and E commonly held myths, but they are
wrong too.  F contradicts the first poll results if it gets too many votes,
and I can't see many people willing to choose G!  This is why I think just
such a poll would be both intriguing and enlightening!

I would also love to see a more general poll along the lines:

> The W3C has established criteria for what is proper HTML.
> Are you adhering to those standards on your site?  That is,
> does your site formally validate as syntactically correct HTML?
> If not, why not?

Obviously, most content providers are aware of the standards.  The W3C
Validation Service is a binary yes/no unambiguous test.  Anyone who has
looked into it can tell you that most pages don't pass validation.  (Again,
in the 95th percentile at least.) So what is the problem?  I will leave it
to you to capture appropriate "why not" categories.  I am afraid that I find
the answer to be unfathomable, which is why I hope you will look into it!

Thank you for your time.

Bruce Bailey, webmaster for the Maryland State Department of Education
(MSDE) Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS)
Received on Thursday, 17 February 2000 09:31:16 UTC

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