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Re: verifying accessibility

From: Massey, Nancy <nmassey@postoffice.dca.net>
Date: Tue, 18 Jul 2000 20:28:58 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-edapta@idyllmtn.com>
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Mr. Bartlett,

Thank you for your response to my earlier post. I will include the entire 
post below for those who would be interested, but rather than complicate 
the issue further, repose my original question.

First I apologize to you individually and to the entire list for 
misinterpreting your intent and imagining any slight.

My question was not from the position as developer of the page in question, 
but becasue I was being asked by my client if the site, which was developed 
by another organization is accessible. So there are three players here, my 
client, me as the developer of my client's web site and another web site 
which my client wanted to link to with resources for people with 
disabilities. As a developer, you can understand that the term "accessible" 
can not be clearly defined.

But when my client says to me - is that site accessible, or is that page 
accessible - it is always a challenge to answer. It is simple for me to 
answer when I go to a page that has poorly formed HTML and has no alt tags, 
I can confidently answer - that page is not accessible. The difficulty is 
when a site is clearly making the effort to be accessible, as the site I 
asked for feedback from is clearly trying, I want to be fair to both my 
client and to the site in question. Instead of slamming the site, I want to 
be able to tell my client, who is not a developer, why I believe the site 
in question is making an effort to be accessible while understanding the 
potential user problems.

I sincerely believe we are at a difficult juncture. As web development 
becomes more sophisticated while at the same time many small non-profits 
want to have their own presence on the web but have limited funds, more 
sites are being done by a staff member with an html editor.

Also, we each come to it with our own needs. A speech user's needs may 
differ from the needs of a person who is color blind. I see the challenge 
as being more of how can we acknowledge what is being done well and build 
on it.

And how do I educate a non-technically oriented client. There are no easy 
answers. In this case I just needed some help on how to answer this 
question being fair to all. The feedback I have received from this list has 
helped me to accomplish this aim. I hope to be able to come to the list 
with this sort of question in the future.

-Nancy Massey

At 03:24 PM 07/18/2000 -0700, Kynn Bartlett wrote:
>At 3:49 PM -0400 7/18/00, Massey, Nancy wrote:
>>If I am perceiving the intent of your response incorrectly please let me 
>Ms. Massey,
>I think you must be, given the lengths you've needed to go through in
>order to interpret anything I've said as being hostile towards you.
>I wonder if you have some other source of resentment against me,
>because honestly I can't tell what exactly you think I've done in
>my email response that would warrant such a harsh rebuke.
>>When I read your message to this list I was taken aback. You ripped apart 
>>my comments without even looking at the page that I was struggling with, 
>>which I found surprising.
>Ripped apart?  Say what?  You're imagining things here.
>I asked questions.  That's called "getting more information."
>As for not looking at your page -- please remember that not everyone
>uses the Internet the same way that you do, at all times.  I usually
>download my email and read it offline.  To check the page I would need
>to wait until I was at a point where I could reconnect to the web,
>do so, and then re-open my browser.
>>You assumed that I wouldn't know the basics, such as changing the default 
>>font size on my browser and on.
>Yes.  I always assume that on an open group such as this that we should
>start with the basics.  I'm sorry if you take offense at my assumption
>that you are not an expert.
>>Then you suggest I am using the wrong tools, without even telling me why 
>>or suggesting what tools may assist me.
>Actually, I asked a question.  Let's back up, though.  What -are- you
>using to try to access the page in question?  What browser and/or
>assistive technologies do you have in place?  I'm assuming you have,
>at the very least, a copy of Internet Explorer and JAWS for Windows,
>but I've made mistaken assumptions about you before.  Do you have
>IE+JAWS, do you have Netscape + Home Page Reader, or do you have some
>other set of tools available?
>Using which software did you fail to see alt text as pop-ups, but
>still found them in the text themselves?  How is that particular
>browser configured?
>>I understand that you are internationally known as an expert in this 
>>field and I applaud your work. But I don't believe that this sort of 
>>response encourages or assists those of us who are reaching out. If this 
>>list is the wrong venue for this assistance, please let me know.
>You're quick to play a victim here, but you were never victimized.  I
>gave you assistance and feedback -- it's not my fault if your ego
>couldn't handle the equivalent of "is the computer plugged in"?  It's
>always the first place to start.
>Now, did you want to actually answer any of the questions that I
>posed, or do you want to just insult me for trying to help you, and
>continue to brag about how much of an expert you are while asking
>for help from strangers?
>Here's the questions I asked:
>1.  Have you increased the default font size in your browser?
>I assume the answer is "yes" -- to which the followup question is, "did
>that help any?"  On a site designed with increased accessibility in
>mind, changing the default font size will "work" -- on sites where the
>font sizes are hard-coded or set as absolutes, they will break.
>I'm sure you know this already, of course.
>>2.  Are you sure that your browser supports "popping up of titles" as
>you wish it to do?
>The reason for asking this is because the "pop-up" tool tips are
>very frequently misunderstood by web designers.  Some feel that ALT
>should be used as the tooltip text, for example.  Various browsers
>have differing levels of support for the use of ALT, TITLE, and more
>as either the tooltip, the status bar notice, or other uses.  The
>most "correct" way -- the one that seems to be blessed by the W3C --
>is for ALT to not pop up, and for TITLE to instead serve this
>I expect that you know this already.
>>3.  Maybe you're using the wrong tools, then?  It sounds like your browser
>may not be providing you with access to the accessibility-related information.
>You can read this question as "what tools are you using?"  At a guess,
>I'd say that whatever you're using isn't providing you the information
>you need -- and yet you said earlier in your post that by viewing
>source, you were able to find it.  If the information is there, and
>your tool -- whatever that may be -- doesn't allow you to access it,
>perhaps you need to look at the tool, and see how it complies with
>the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines?  (I assume you've already
>done this, of course.)
>4.  Accessible to whom?
>And of course, you neglected to answer this question, and seemingly
>ignored the point that accessibility is not a binary value.  Perhaps that
>was too basic for you to even comment on; if that's the case, please
>don't take offense at a little "preaching to the choir", and instead
>consider that others on the list, who are not nearly as expert as you
>are, might benefit from a discussion on that topic.
>Kynn Bartlett <kynn@idyllmtn.com>
Received on Tuesday, 18 July 2000 20:29:22 UTC

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