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RE: User Responsibility for Web Accessibility

From: <Kurt_Mattes@bankone.com>
Date: Wed, 14 Apr 2004 07:51:58 -0400
Message-ID: <B239BEDED044074C8E2CCC3A9162F2A90A26D7EE@swilnts804.wil.fusa.com>
To: <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

>The place where you go for real technical knowledge is not the bookshop
>but sites like the W3C's, where you get the original source documents.

There are other sources that provide "technical knowledge" for everyday
users which I believe was the original point of my comments.  
Thousands of classes are available around the world (including on the
web) and documentation is included with software programs.  Yes
historically the manual or help sections have a bad reputation, but many
technical writers actually do attempt to provide clear information for
everyday users.  I am not convinced that changing a few basic settings
to improve results realized with a browser or user agent is a difficult
task.  Changing font size in most word processing programs is as hard to
do as changing many of these settings.  

The Internet is many things, but at the core it is an interactive
medium.  Interactivity requires effort on the part of all parties
that care to partake.  I can build you a watering hole, but
you must get your camel to drink from it.  Knowing how to make the
camel perform well could be considered "technical knowledge".  Is it
anyone other than the camel owners responsibility to learn this
knowledge?  On the other hand, as the watering hole builder, I have
a responsibility to know how to apply good and avoid bad design issues 
and building techniques for a camel watering hole.

Kurt Mattes
Application Development Analyst-Lead Developer
(302) 282-1414

-----Original Message-----
From: David Woolley [mailto:david@djwhome.demon.co.uk]
Sent: Wednesday, April 14, 2004 2:59 AM
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Subject: Re: User Responsibility for Web Accessibility

> >
> > Actually, in a blue-sky sense, this is a good idea.  Hence the success > > of
> > the "... for Dummies" series, Cliff Notes, etc.  Anyone from the 
> > Semantic
> > Web want to chime in?

This is the sales pitch for almost every web, and to a large extent,
computing book in the bookstalls.  The result tends to be books that
are incomplete and misleading (I haven't looked at the specific series
mentioned with respect to this point), e.g. they are likely not to 
mention accessibility features at all, and provide presentational
browser dependent hacks, without explanation.  It also results in books
that are still far too full of jargon for real naive users.

The place where you go for real technical knowledge is not the bookshop
but sites like the W3C's, where you get the original source documents.

> Is there any reason why books shouldn't be written like that? Are we 
> assuming that only the most intelligent 5% without reading difficulties > are a worthy audience for books? What does that imply for the idea that 
Books are marketed to the people that buy them.  Perception of ease
of understanding is often more important than real ease of understanding.
There is so much knowledge required to properly use modern home PCs,
in fact even to use them in a very basic way, that if one wrote a book
that started from first principles, it would be so big that it would be
rejected by the modern instant-gratification culture.

Actually, it is not just the web were there is a lack of good basic
knowledge in the bookshops.  Try to find a book with fancy cooking recipes
and you will find 100s; try to find a book that describes the basic 
domestic science of personal catering (at a junior high school level)
and you probably won't find any.

(Most web design books that actually sell are recipe books, not theory

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Received on Wednesday, 14 April 2004 07:52:39 UTC

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