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Re: rationale for checkpoint 8.1

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 1 Mar 2002 07:36:25 +0000 (GMT)
Message-Id: <200203010736.g217aPv06224@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
> I am aware that JAWS is able to handle Javascript. 
> Are there assistive technologies that cannot interact with Javascript?

This appears to be the token compliance approach.  Find a solution that
some assistive technology, however expensive, can cope with and then
class the site as OK.

If you are really careful with your JavaScript, this may work for an
intranet, as you can probably buy your way out the problem, by using
top end AT and by restricting the choice of browsers.  Common JavaScript
techniques can still cause problems in this closed environment, e.g.
forms that submit when you select from a pull down list are impossible
to use from the keyboard on some browsers and require unusual knowledge
in users for others.

For users where you do not have such a tight control of the environment
(including people who use common search engines) JavaScript use will lock
out a significant number of well off people who have no need for assistive
technology when using computer equipment, because of security concerns (and 
often because of failing to understand the nature of browser dependencies
in the object models).

Moreover, one of the founding principles of Tim Berners-Lee's web
was universality, which meant the ability to use even quite simple
browsers and still get useful information; of course, most commercial
content creators actually want the sort of technology (which already
existed then) that was rejected, to achieve this end, in favour of HTML.
This represents part of a wider definition of accessibility which was
part of the original concept of the web.  (Your choice of JAWS as the
reference AT means that the whole organisation may have to move to
Microsoft Windows on Intel hardware.)

Unfortunately, the increasing concentration on legislation compliance
means that the focus of web accessibility is moving more and more towards
those things covered by legislation, in part because that is where the
consultancy money is.  Unfortunately, legislation is needed
as organisations won't do anything without it.
Received on Friday, 1 March 2002 03:30:33 GMT

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