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RE: Disability Type Analysis of WCAG 1.0

From: Jim Tobias <tobias@inclusive.com>
Date: Fri, 24 Aug 2001 10:25:19 -0400
To: Kynn Bartlett <kynn@reef.com>, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-id: <NEBBJIAFILGDABFKCNLHEELCDHAA.tobias@inclusive.com>
Dear Kynn,

Contrary to others who think your analysis might indicate that you have
too much time on your hands, I am delighted with what you have done.  It
shows a true system approach to the real-world issues, going beyond the
purely technical or regulatory view.  Thanks so much for this.

As you note, many of the blindness-oriented WCAG items are totally Boolean:
either
you support screen readers or you don't, for example.  This kind of item is
easier to test for, easier to template for, easier to semi-automate.
Compare
it with the low vision items, which are so much more contextual and
subjective.
And they refer to the needs of a much larger number of people, many of whom
do not identify as having low vision.  It brings us into the space between
accessibility and usability, where the metric is no longer "Can I do it at
all?" but "Can I do it for an hour without getting a headache?"

In my opinion, this is where 508 falls down so badly, both in comparison
with
WCAG and Section 255 of the Telecom Act.  The latter two both emphasize high
usability with a corresponding additional effort needed for compatibility
with
assistive technology when usability is not enough.  The former is having the
effect of putting too much attention on compatibility and not enough on
plain
usability.  As we see states developing their own "508 plus" strategies by
taking usability into consideration, we may want to admit that 508 will have
to
be re-done, and begin planning for it.

Jim

Jim Tobias, President
Inclusive Technologies
tobias@inclusive.com
732.441.0831 v/tty
www.inclusive.com


> -----Original Message-----
> From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org]On
> Behalf Of Kynn Bartlett
> Sent: Friday, August 24, 2001 8:20 AM
> To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
> Subject: Disability Type Analysis of WCAG 1.0
>
>
>
> On a thread on the WCAG working group mailing list, I raised the issue of
> the state of Texas interpreting WCAG 1.0 as being guidelines for access
> by people with visual disabilities (thread:
> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-gl/2001JulSep/0664.html
> Texas policy: http://www.dir.state.tx.us/standards/S201-12.htm).
>
> The concern is that needs of people with disabilities who are _not_
> blind may be forgotten by those making policies or interpreting the
> WCAG guidelines.
>
> But it also raises an intriguing question -- are the guidelines slanted
> toward championing the needs of certain disability types over other
> types of disabilities?  (Yes, I know some of you believe this already,
> hi Anne.)
>
> So I did number crunching.  Here's my methology:
>
> 1.  I made an spreadsheet and listed each WCAG 1.0 checkpoint.
> 2.  I made one column for each of several broad disability types:
>      (a) Blind (defined: unable to see visual information)
>      (b) Color-Blind (defined: unable to reliably distinguish colors)
>      (c) Limited Vision (defined: can see but not well; may need
>          large fonts or magnifiers)
>      (d) Deaf (or hard of hearing; defined: cannot hear sounds reliably)
>      (e) Low Dexterity (defined: unable to use a pointing device
> and instead
>          must use keyboard or switch)
>      (f) Low Comprehension (defined: having problems understanding
>          content, textual or otherwise)
>      (g) Low Reading (defined: having problems reading text)
>      (h) Epilepsy (defined: may be subject to epileptic episodes)
> 3.  I went through each checkpoint and recorded whether or not the
>      checkpoint applied to that disability type.
> 4.  Some checkpoints were listed as "all", while others were listed as
>      "did not clearly apply to specific disabilities."
> 5.  Sums and percentages were produced.
>
> (Obviously, there is much potential in error in the above; for example,
> you could choose to use different disability types (or definitions), or
> you could assign applicability in different ways.  If you are doubtful
> of my figures, I urge you to try the analysis yourself to see what
> numbers you might get.)
>
> Here are my findings on WCAG 1.0:
>
>    Blind: 70.8%
>    Color Blind: 10.8%
>    Low Vision: 23.1%
>
>    Deaf: 9.2%
>
>    Low Dexterity: 20%
>
>    Low Comprehension: 24.6%
>    Low Reading Skills: 21.5%
>
>    Epilepsy: 7.7%
>
>    N/A: 10.8%
>
> This tends to show a trend -- "bias" is a loaded word -- supporting
> the idea that visually impaired users are highly promoted within WCAG
> 1.0.  One of the reasons for this is that access by people with visual
> disabilities is relatively well-understood and there is a long history
> of activism on web to promote those interests.  It's also attributable
> to the fact that much of the assistive technology used on the web for
> output is designed for people with visuam impairments.  (AT used for
> _input_ is more common among people with dexterity limitation.)
>
> Now, something more interesting to look at is the priority system of
> WCAG 1.0.  Here's how that breaks down:
>
> Priority One:
>
>    Blind: 81.25%
>    Color Blind: 18.75%
>    Low Vision: 25%
>
>    Deaf: 25%
>
>    Low Dexterity: 12.5%
>
>    Low Comprehension: 12.5%
>    Low Reading Skills: 18.75%
>
>    Epilepsy: 12.5%
>
>    N/A: 0%
>
> Priority Two:
>
>    Blind: 63.3%
>    Color Blind: 10%
>    Low Vision: 30%
>
>    Deaf: 3.3%
>
>    Low Dexterity: 16.7%
>
>    Low Comprehension: 26.7%
>    Low Reading Skills: 16.7%
>
>    Epilepsy: 6.7%
>
>    N/A: 13.3%
>
> Priority Three:
>
>    Blind: 73.7%
>    Color Blind: 5.3%
>    Low Vision: 10.5%
>
>    Deaf: 5.3%
>
>    Low Dexterity: 31.6%
>
>    Low Comprehension: 31.6%
>    Low Reading Skills: 31.6%
>
>    Epilepsy: 0%
>
>    N/A: 15.8%
>
> It's interesting to note the distribution here -- it implies that if
> you choose only "single-A" accessibility, you are primarily meeting
> needs of blind users, while "double-A" provides a broader range, and
> "triple-A" an even wider cross-section especially among people with
> limited input ability and cognitive impairments.
>
> Why is this?  (As a diversion:  It's NOT because people on the working
> group are biased.)  Most likely it is because blindness issues are,
> for lack of a better term, more "black and white".  They are either "do
> or do not, there is no try."
>
> On the other hand, the types of considerations you need to make for
> different audiences tend to be more vague, and really -are- of the sort
> "try to do this" or "do as much as you can" or "make it better by doing
> some of this."
>
> Because of the way the WCAG 1.0 priority system is structured, this
> promotes the needs of users who fit a "do or do not" scheme over the
> needs of those users who fit a "try" scheme.  This explains in part why
> some disability types seem to be "more important" in WCAG 1.0.
>
> Here is another set of numbers:  These are the percentages of different
> priority levels, for checkpoints which apply to each disability type.
>
> Blind:
>    Priority 1: 28.3%
>    Priority 2: 41.3%
>    Priority 3: 30.4%
>
> Color Blind:
>    Priority 1: 42.9%
>    Priority 2: 42.9%
>    Priority 3: 14.3%
>
> Low Vision:
>    Priority 1: 26.7%
>    Priority 2: 60%
>    Priority 3: 13.3%
>
> Deaf:
>    Priority 1: 66.7%
>    Priority 2: 16.7%
>    Priority 3: 16.7%
>
> Low Dexterity:
>    Priority 1: 15.4%
>    Priority 2: 38.5%
>    Priority 3: 46.1%
>
> Low Comprehension:
>    Priority 1: 12.5%
>    Priority 2: 50%
>    Priority 3: 37.5%
>
> Low Reading Skills:
>    Priority 1: 21.4%
>    Priority 2: 35.7%
>    Priority 3: 42.9%
>
> Epilepsy:
>    Priority 1: 40%
>    Priority 2: 40%
>    Priority 3: 20%
>
>
> I hope this is informative and thought-provoking; my goals here are to
> examine how things look and figure out why, and whether or not this is
> something that needs to be considered as we work on future versions of
> guidelines.  Please note:  THIS IS NOT AN INVITATION TO START DISABILITY
> VS. DISABILITY FLAMEWARS.  We are all on the same team here, even if we
> represent different types of audiences, so let's not assume any malice
> is at work in the way WCAG 1.0 was written.
>
> --Kynn
>
> --
> Kynn Bartlett <kynn@reef.com>
> Technical Developer Liaison
> Reef North America
> Accessibility - W3C - Integrator Network
> ________________________________________
> BUSINESS IS DYNAMIC. TAKE CONTROL.
> ________________________________________
> http://www.reef.com
>
Received on Friday, 24 August 2001 11:45:26 GMT

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