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Re: Testing web page accessibility by phone

From: Patrick Burke <burke@ucla.edu>
Date: Wed, 29 May 2002 11:02:25 -0700
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

Just to add a few more comments (or possibly re-add the same comments ...):

At 05:14 PM 5/28/2002, phoenixl wrote:
>The issue of "getting it right" is an interesting one, but it is not
>clear exactly what it means since various people and organizations have
>different interpretations.
>With regards to web page accessibility, I contacted hisoftware and found
>out their software doesn't address a number of the issues of "understanding".
>When we were doing some web page testing, some of the questions that blind
>people were asked were like:
>     1.  What is the purpose of the web page being presented?
>     2.  How do you know you are correctly interpreting the purpose of
>         the web page?
Who decides what the "real" purpose of the page is? If the designer is on 
hand (or if you designed a test page), then you have a good chance of being 
sure what the page is for. But this still may not agree with what most 
users think the page is for, or ought to be for. Some pages have one 
specific purpose, & should have as little distracting material as possible 
(a purchase completion page). Other pages (a university or supermarket 
homepage) may need to offer something to a wide range of users with 
different interests.

So it may be better to frame the questions in terms of user expectations, 
esp. since few people will ever be presented with a web page out of thin 
air. They are either typing in an address, following a link recommended by 
a friend, or following a link from a previous web page. In all these cases 
the user has some expectation of what will happen when the new page loads. 
So the question might be: What were you expecting to find on the page? Were 
you able to find it? What unexpected things occurred? Did they distract or 
help you in finding what you wanted? You might also compare the confusion 
level of the novice blind user with the confusion level of a novice sighted 
user. (My hunch is that there won't be very many "intuitively obvious" 
pages without some level of training/experience.)

Another area that studies, particularly of blind users tend not to address 
is the learning curve issue. It may take even an experienced blind web user 
a long time to understand a new site, esp. if it uses unfamiliar navigation 
or other layout features. But after the structure of the page is learned, 
return visits can go much faster. So if I know that the link I want is the 
third one that starts with R, I simply load the page, use the Link List 
command, type R R R & hit Enter (for example purposes only). So I may 
actually get to the desired content faster than a darkness-impaired user in 
some cases.

This is where things like frames become issues. Blind users (& many others 
with & without disabilities) work best in familiar navigational structures. 
When the metaphor for the page design changes (it's a Windows dialog box; 
it's like a spreadsheet for you to fill in numbers), or new elements are 
added (pop-out menus, etc), these are confusing until learned. So, if a 
user has to continually learn new page metaphors, his/her efficiency will 
be decreased. (Of course many web authors are constantly seeking new page 
designs to differentiate themselves from the competition, so this will 
always be an issue.)

My rambling shall cease,
Received on Wednesday, 29 May 2002 14:01:19 UTC

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