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RE: Accessible site list - change to page address

From: Jukka Korpela <jukka.korpela@tieke.fi>
Date: Thu, 14 Nov 2002 09:37:07 +0200
Message-ID: <621574AE86FAD3118D1D0000E22138A95BDF4F@TIEKE1>
To: W3c_Access <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

Jim Byrne wrote:

> Please use the page at http://www.mcu.org.uk/campaigns/accessible.html
- -
> Please add your great looking and accessible site to the 
> list; make it easy for other to find a list of well designed
> and accessible sites.

I have become more and more convinced of the need for galleries
of accessible sites that have other good properties as well,
in order to meet some of the very common arguments and prejudices
against accessibility. I would not, however, limit the goodness
criteria to being great looking. Relevance, originality, and
richness of content might matter, too, and so would general usability.

As regards to that page, it might be a start, but I see several problems:
- it doesn't contain links to the pages except casually; instead the user
  needs to copy and paste the URL, something that could _easily_ be
  avoided
- it does not contain a simple list of the sites but merges the essential
  information with explanations
- on the other hand, a link is just a pointer, and the target may change
  without notice; what happens if a site announced as particularly
  accessible is "redesigned"? (a link to a suitable address at archive.org
  might be a partial solution - it might tell what the site was like
  when it was added to the list
- it does not clearly say what the pages are about (and neither do many
  of the pages themselves at first glance or hearing); it's essential
  to convince people by giving them examples that they find interesting
  by their content too
- it's presumably just a set of submitted pages, so it's _very_ subjective
  (and to my subjective taste, none of the sites I checked is actually
  great looking, and in my educated opinion, none of them is particularly
  accessible either - they may satisfy a set of technical criteria, but
  e.g. excessively long main pages are a real problem).

Recently I was asked whether it would be a good idea to make some icon
a symbol of Web accessibility, just as there are symbols for physical
accessibility (e.g., the well-known wheelchair symbol). I responded
that it probably would, but it seems rather unrealistic. It would need
to have _some_ kind of certification procedure, since otherwise it
would not have any real meaning. This too raises the question of
non-subjective evaluation.

(Ultimately, of course, accessibility is all subjective. What matters
is whether an individual can access information and services. But to
evaluate the overall accessibility of a site, we cannot ask every
potential Web user, current and future, and sum it up. So we need
evaluations that try to estimate the situation objectively, based
partly on some individual experiences, partly on general considerations,
reasoning, and simulations.)

I think something between purely subjective compilations and formal
certifications (as per ISO's certification standard to be published in
2022 or something) is needed. Some review "board" would probably be
needed, no matter informal, as well as an open forum for criticizing
the board's decisions.

But I suppose the W3C does not find itself a suitable organization
for that. It could be characterized as a technical organization rather
than policy making organization, though WAI is apparent deviation from
this, but even WAI has strong emphasis on technical guidance and
development.

Or could the WAI host an "accessibility evaluation board" and associated
galleries of evaluated sites found exemplary (in one way or another)?
It would surely give such an activity more visibility, and it could
promote the WAI goals in a very important manner.

-- 
Jukka Korpela, senior adviser 
TIEKE Finnish Information Society Development Centre
http://www.tieke.fi/
Diffuse Business Guide to Web Accessibility and Design for All:
http://www.diffuse.org/accessibility.html
Received on Thursday, 14 November 2002 02:37:35 GMT

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