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RE: Where's Bobby? Are we left with Cynthia?

From: Myhill, Carl S \(GE Infra, Energy\) <carl.myhill@ps.ge.com>
Date: Tue, 31 Jan 2006 06:50:27 +0100
Message-ID: <1F26F4742242BA449B1716A3A1E93EC603FCDABC@BFTMLVEM02.e2k.ad.ge.com>
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

Hi All,

An interesting discussion, thanks. I've been asked what it is about
Bobby that I miss.

What I miss is:

1. Having a tool which checks the level of compliance I have reached and
the appropriate 'badge' for that level of compliance (Cynthia's badge
does not do this). "How do I get to the next level of compliance?" is a
useful question for me.

2. I miss having a tool which can check up on my slip-ups and keep it
clean. Linking back to the validation tool to prove at least that page
validates ok.

3. I miss learning from Bobby that automatic checks are not enough and
having some guidance about what the manual checks should be (though
Cynthia does this and so does webexact). I greatly value the educational
benefits of using these tools.

4. The Bobby logo helps spread the word about accessibility (though, as
I believe, Jacob Nielsen suggested, there is no need to have such badges
on every page). I just put mine on the accessibility statement page.

I guess for me, 1. is the biggest issue since it tells me how far I have
got with accessibility according the the validator and to my best
efforts at the manual checks. For a long time I was surprised that
people would cheat the validator to get a Priority 3 level of
compliance. The excellent 'diveintoaccessibility', at one time, had an
empty string as the default text in it's search box. Without a string
there this should have failed level 3. But the empty string seemed
disingenuous. It allowed the automatic check to pass at level 3 but
broke the guideline the rule was trying to enforce. This kind of thing
does nothing to help the credibility of badges.

>From this discussion
- lots of people point out the limitation of guidelines and automatic
validators preferring instead the human expert. This worries me. How do
you hire such an expert who knows more than the guidelines do about all
kinds of disabilities and accessibility issues? I think the guidelines
and tools like Bobby and Cynthia have been very thoroughly researched
and produced and I'm very inclined to try and learn from such
encapsulated wisdom and build on it. I find that much more reassuring
than leaving it in the hands of an 'expert' whose skills I am unsure of.
I would at least expect an expert to use the validator as the first

- 'a full blown accessibility statement is better than some icons'.
Again, you need to trust that your expert knows everything they need to.
Why not have an accessibilty statement which also includes the badges to
prove the basic automatic testing has been done too?

- I agree that 'bobby approved' perhaps anthropomorphizes what the
validator is doing and over sells it as an apparent human intervention;

- some people have said the WCAG badges are better and more honest.
Whilst I do use them, they worry me because I know how easy it is to
make a mistake and make something inaccessible from some markup
problems. These badges seem to me that I'm saying, 'I've read the
guidelines and believe this website meets them'. This is insufficient
for me, I want to prove it! If only to myself. 

- Saying "this site is accessible and doesnt need a badge to say so"
sounds quite arrogant to me. It sounds like any one of us can just, from
our expertise, say, 'oh yeah, this is accessible'. I'm sure that's not
the intent of what was said but I like the fact that validators get me
to the first level at least; and I can prove I got there even if just to

- "accessibility is a continuum". I think this is right. We are learning
all the time how to make things more accessible and how to ever improve
the accessibility of our sites. Bobby, Cynthia and the others give
people a fine start along this continuum and a lot of education along
the way. 

- Bobby/Cynthia et al are also good tools for keeping knowledge up to
date. I produced a new site recently and was surprised at the extra
things the validator popped up than it had before. At first annoying but
ultimately helpfully spreading knowledge.

- "fully accessible WCAG III is darned hard to do" - disagree. It's a
bit tricky perhaps but what's wrong with level II if you have learned
something along the way and know why you are at level 2?

- "with bobby gone people will think more". Quite a sad statement. Bobby
has made me think a whole lot. I could have done all my websites and
ignored accessibility. Bobby helped me out there. A blind friend helped
me out too. But accessibility is not just about blind users and I dont
know enough of the detail about other forms of disability and their
needs. So, Bobby, to me, represents a wealth of knowledge encapsulated
in a useful form. Will people really think more with it gone? Sadly I
think not. Less visibility to accessibility on the web cannot be a good

So, I miss Bobby!


PS My sites are these (done on a voluntary basis with limited time).
Always keen to learn more if anyone has an opinion to venture:

http://www.impingtonswimmingclub.org.uk/ masters swimming club
http://www.abigailwitchallstrust.org.uk/ not for profit trust
http://www.arburycommunitycentre.co.uk/ community centre
http://www.aquariusclub.net/ advertising a condo in florida
http://www.litsl.com/ my homepage

PPS Some people recommended other tools to use for validation. I've not
tried them all but here is the list...
http://www.cynthiasays.com/  (EXCELLENT)
http://webxact.watchfire.com/ (EXCELLENT)
Received on Tuesday, 31 January 2006 05:50:34 UTC

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