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Simplicity of Authoring and Accessibility Tools

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-edapta@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2001 12:08:14 -0800
Message-Id: <4.2.0.58.20010118115805.00bf4170@garth.idyllmtn.com>
To: "Robert Neff" <rneff@bbnow.net>
Cc: "Bailey, Bruce" <Bruce_Bailey@ed.gov>, "'Anne Pemberton'" <apembert@crosslink.net>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
At 11:55 AM 1/18/2001 , Robert Neff wrote:
>Actually, I recommend using page authoring tools in conjunction with HTML &
>CSS Validator & Bobby. 

Robert, part of the problem here is that validators and Bobby are of
little use to people who are not trained web designers.  Anne seems
to be seeking a solution that allows someone to create an accessible
web page without being a web author -- and believe me, that is very
much a worthy goal, as I've found in my career.

The problem is that such a tool doesn't exist.  And HTML validators
and Bobby don't do the trick either, because the level of knowledge
necessary to benefit from Bobby or a validator is _higher_ than the
level of knowledge necessary to use a WYSIWYG editor.

So, what's needed is an accessibility tool with no more knowledge
necessary than that required to use Front Page or any other WYSIWYG
tool for beginners.  Expensive high-end design tools are not what
I'm talking about here -- I'm talking about the people whose job
description most definitely does not include "web design" in any
way, and who don't need Dreamweaver or a similar package.

On that note, then, what would such a tool look like?  Well, for
starters we should look at the A-Prompt from UToronto.  That's an
excellent example of how you can shield the user-author from the
mechanics of web design while still enabling accessibility.

In other words, wherever Bobby flags "there is no alt attribute",
you could instead have a screen pop up which says "what is a
short description for this tag?"  Even better would be something
integrated into the tool itself, as described by the Authoring
Tools Accessibility Guidelines.  Of course the danger with ATAG
is that it may only be adopted for high powered apps such as
DreamWeaver and might not be applied in "beginner software."

The best tools are getting better, yes -- but the best tools are
meant for intermediate-to-power-users, primarily.  There needs to
be a decent, free, easy-to-use web creation package for people
who don't know a damn thing but which still follows ATAG and produces
accessible web sites.  But is there any market pressure to
create such a beastie?  I dunno.

--Kynn

-- 
Kynn Bartlett  <kynn@idyllmtn.com>                http://kynn.com/
Technical Developer Relations, Reef           http://www.reef.com/
Chief Technologist, Idyll Mountain Internet   http://idyllmtn.com/
Contributor, Special Ed. Using XHTML     http://kynn.com/+seuxhtml
Unofficial Section 508 Checklist       http://kynn.com/+section508
Received on Thursday, 18 January 2001 15:11:04 GMT

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