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RE: Accessibility Options

From: Jukka Korpela <jukka.korpela@tieke.fi>
Date: Thu, 14 Nov 2002 10:48:51 +0200
Message-ID: <621574AE86FAD3118D1D0000E22138A95BDF50@TIEKE1>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

C. Bottelier wrote:

> I find the 'Accessibility Options' a great idea, although I (and
> most probably more people) have loaded their browser with a user
> stylesheet that overrides all colour and fonts.

Things like "Accessibility Options" reflect real concern and often
involve sophisticated techniques and a lot of work, but they are
a completely wrong approach, except in rare special cases.

They try to solve users' problems with browsing on a per-site (or
even per-page) basis. If my problem is, say, that the default
font size of my browser is too big or too small, then I need to
fix that, or have someone fix it for me. It helps remarkably little
if different sites have different techniques for fixing such things
for each site. It takes time and effort to understand how they work
and to use them, typically even more than learning how
to change browser settings and change them.

Moreover, they add technicalities to a page, and any technicality is
potentially confusing. Here's what I get e.g. on Lynx when trying
to visit the "Events" page:

   Accessibility Options
   The Sample Charity's logo

   The Sample Charity
   21 Sample Street,
   Sample Town,
   Sample County.
   AA1 BB2
   Tel: 01234 55 66 77
   Fax: 01234 77 88 99
   Email: sample@charityskills.net

   Warning:  This  page  is designed for optimal display in browsers with
   fully support for XHTML and CSS positioning.
   Your  older  browsers still has full access to the content in a linear
   format below, but it is not being displayed as it was intended

   Skip to navigation

I'm afraid several speech browsers would read that whenever a user
visits any of the pages, before getting at the page content.
It gets a bit boring. If you want to put the full address on every
page, it's best to make it _last_, even if you decide to use CSS
positioning to make it appear visually e.g. in the upper right corner.
Short texts like "accessibility options" at the start of each and
every page are less distracting, but distracting anyway.

Besides, on Opera the site http://www.sample.charityskills.net/ does
not work at all except in "user mode". In "document mode", I get
huge text size, and "Accessibility Options" (which covers about half
of the screen) appears as underlined but does nothing when clicked on.
So there might be some technical problems too.

> >3. We are considering providing a facility so that the user can
> >download their own custom style sheet based on the 
> preferences they set
> >and then provide them with instructions on how to use it in the
> >browsers that support it - do you think this is worthwhile?
> This would be more the thing of a site on helping people who don't
> know CSS to 'compose' a user stylesheet.

Exactly. Actual accessibility is a product of several factors, including
pages themselves, servers, browsers and their configuration, plugins
and assistive technologies, users, and people who help the users.
To some extent, these can compensate for each other, but not very much.
If the user does not know how to use the browser, he needs _general_
help for that, not any site-specific help. If he needs a user style sheet,
it should be written for _general_ use in his browsing.

Jukka Korpela, senior adviser 
TIEKE Finnish Information Society Development Centre
http://www.tieke.fi/  My phone +358 9 4763 0397
Received on Thursday, 14 November 2002 03:49:24 UTC

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