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Re: The Cult of Pseudo Accessibility

From: James Craig <work@cookiecrook.com>
Date: Wed, 10 Dec 2003 10:43:45 -0600
Message-ID: <3FD74D41.6060904@cookiecrook.com>
To: WAI Interest Group <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Cc: gdeering@acslink.net.au, Charles McCathieNevile <charles@sidar.org>

Geoff Deering wrote:

> To be able to parse a document and detect empty values in certain 
> elements, or look for <NOSCRIPT> where there are <SCRIPT> elements is 
> something a first year CS student should be able to do, so why after all 
> this time, in a commercial product from a commercial company, why isn't 
> the project manager knowledgeable enough to isolate these problems and 
> have them corrected?

I think you are confusing the "letter of the law" and the "spirit of the 
law." The plain and simple truth is that not every <script> element 
requires a <noscript> element to be accessible; hence the concept of 

If I have a script that provides some *non-essential* functionality, do 
I really need to explain that to a user with scripting disabled in order 
to provide that person with a usable experience? No. WCAG understands 
this and doesn't require it. Section 508 suggests the explanation but, 
IMHO, it's extraneous in most cases and rarely helpful.

> I know that most of these companies have representatives involved in 
> their relevant areas in the W3C, but I ask you, is this really a sign of 
> active involvement, or just token representation.  Even if these people 
> are genuine, often their managers just put them there to fulfil a public 
> role, whether they like it or not.  The proof of the pudding is in the 
> results, and I have seen little improvement in Bobby over this time.  It 
> still has the same *basic* flaws that could have been fixed ages ago. 

I agree with you that there are some fundamental flaws. The main one is 
that it stills displays the "Bobby Approved" graphic without verifying 
even one user check. If they continue to use this logo, the validation 
process should go throhugh a series of Yes/No questions such as "Have 
you verified that the <script> element on line 53 of file...blah blah?" 
Once those have past, the logo could be displayed. Granted, this 
provides no more verification of accessibility than the current version, 
but it is less likely to be misunderstood by a novice user.

I'd like to reference two clichés:
   1. "Guns don't kill people, people do."
   2. "Guns just make it a lot easier for people to kill people."

These could also be interpreted as "Bobby doesn't misrepresent sites as 
accessible, people do." and "Bobby just makes it a lot easier for people 
to misrepresent sites as accessible." However, in the right hands at the 
right time, both Bobby and guns can be used for good, too. ;)

James Craig

PS. I just know that last sentence is gonna come back to haunt me.

Received on Wednesday, 10 December 2003 11:43:53 UTC

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