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Re[2]: Diabetes websites too complicated

From: Mike Brown <mike@signify.co.nz>
Date: Wed, 15 Sep 2004 09:50:43 +1200
Message-ID: <1469674046.20040915095043@signify.co.nz>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

>> Is the "reading age" of a site, assuming it can be measured, an
>> accessibility issue? Is there a limit to how far information can be
>> "simplified" before it loses its usefulness?

Charles> Certainly there is a limit to how far information can be simplifie before
Charles> it uses its usefulness. But there are plenty of 7 year-olds with diabetes
Charles> (to pick one example) who are for the most part able to manage their
Charles> condition by themselves, given information in an appropriate form. I
Charles> suspect that increasing their reading age to that of a 14-year old would
Charles> take, on average, about 7 years (for each one)...

My reading of the article was that it suggested that the
diabetes sites be written in such language that "an average educated nine year
old" can understand it. And that the author was critical of the
current sites which "would need the reading ability of an educated person aged
between 11 and 16.8 years old to understand [them]".

I don't see that this is an accessibility issue. Yes of course make
resources for children available if they are part of the target
audience, but how can a site's content be considered unaccessible if
the "average educated 11-16.8 year old" can understand it? I don't
think that's an unrealistic expectation.

Content is the hardest part of a website. I'm a web developer and
invariably the content for a website is the last thing that arrives
from a client. They almost inveitably underestimate what's involved in
writing and getting together the content.

I guess the underlying interest in my asking the original questions
is something like:

How far is it realistic to make comprehension of content an
accessbility issue?

In building a site, the aim is to make it accessible to anyone. I
don't think that's unrealistic. We may fail at times, or not do it the
best way, but it's something we try to attain.

But to make understanding the content an accessibility issue? How far
do you go? At what reading age does it become unaccessible?

Note that I'm not at all arguing against clear, well-written and
edited content. Or against providing content that is understandable by
a 9 year old, or someone with Down's Syndrome if they are part of the
target audience. But does every site have to provide content that is
understandable "an average educated nine year old" in order to be
considered accessible?

That's not a requirement of every book in the library on diabetes. Why
should it be a requirement of every website on diabetes?


Mike Brown
Received on Tuesday, 14 September 2004 21:51:04 UTC

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