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Exploring the definition of "accessibility" (was RE: Accessibility, discrimination, and WCAG 2.0

From: Phill Jenkins/Austin/IBM <pjenkins@us.ibm.com>
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2000 14:29:50 -0400
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <OF09F81945.86AF890E-ON85256981.0051CCEF@raleigh.ibm.com>
I like what Charles Munat wrote:
>... It is a very complicated issue. When it's just a matter
>of making the document accessible, it's not that difficult. But when it
>comes to making it *understandable*, well, that's a lot more complicated.

I would also add the following to the list of "complicated" things, or at
least things I do NOT include in the definition of "accessibility":
     1. translation, translatable, available in multiple languages, etc.
     2. usability, ease of use, usable, intuitive, etc.
     3. understandable, appropriate to audience, comprehensible, etc.
     4. rights, civil rights, discrimination, affordability, etc.

I believe the definition of accessibility we should be using in WCAG should
include the following:
     access to equivalent information via different modalities.
"access to" does NOT include 1 through 4 above.  For example, "access to
the alternative text of an image" does NOT include the "access to the
alternative text in a different language"  - that's the domain of the
translation guidelines, not the accessibility content guidelines.  Another
example, "access to the transcript of the video" does NOT include "access
to a simplified explanation of the video" - that's the domain of education
guidelines not the accessibility content guidelines.  Another example,
"access to the equivalent information in a different modality" may require
an assistive technology (i.e., screen reader) , but "access to ..." does
NOT include the economic means to acquire the assistive technology, that's
the domain of the "digital divide movement" or other political/economic

Now, I also think that the WCAG needs to consider the list of responsible
[slightly edited from Kynn & Javier lists - note that this is a desktop
paradigm list]

> (1) The user, for making sure that her software and hardware is
       configured correctly and appropriate version and level.
> (2) The hardware manufacturers.
> (3) The operating system manufacturer.
> (4) The browser software manufacturer.
> (5) The manufacturer of any additional assistive technology, hardware
>      or software.
> (6) The web designer and/or the web programmer associated with the
>      site in question.
  (7) The authoring tools (manufacturer & user) used to create and
       maintain the content
> (8) The people who create the standards (protocols, languages)
>      used by the web designers, programmers, tools, browsers, and
      assistive technologies.

because the browser and assistive technology have some of the
responsibilities.  Especially where it is readily achievable, WCAG should
NOT but the burden on the designer (6) nor the authoring tools (7) for
alternative content that increases costs.  That is why WAI also includes
guidelines for the browser and authoring tools.

Another rule of thumb I use:
     Accessibility is "equivalent content available in a different
modality", it is not "different content".

Received on Monday, 23 October 2000 14:29:58 UTC

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