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SV: How competent must people be to use the Web?

From: Morten Tollefsen <morten@medialt.no>
Date: Tue, 3 Nov 2009 23:37:11 +0100
Message-ID: <EDA91A2F291B104FA26F01B9300235E43A440D@mlt-server-01.medialt.local>
To: "David Woolley" <forums@david-woolley.me.uk>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

Thanks for several comments (both to me directly and on the list).

Communication is art. I'm not very good in English, and some of the comments I've got are not understandable to me. What I'm writing is probably both inperfect and not clear enough, sorry for this!

When testing sites it is of course good practice to include users with various background. This means different computer skills, disabilities, ... However even if this is the case my experience is that it is very often important to be able to have users with sertain skills. And when training users it is also good to have a goal for the courses.

ECDL (European computer driving licence) is one standard user level typically used in Norway. We use the same education for visually impaired users of course. The level Is the same, but not methods: e. g. blind users need to know some screen reader functionality even if web sites are accessible (wcag 2.0 compatible). ECDL has a syllabus typically meant to be used in the labor market, but I think the Internet module is suitable also for modern private web browsing. The tests are measuring both the ability to perform different tasks (e. g. to use a search engine) and the time used. Here a blind user typically need to know screen reader functionality to work fast enough: link list, search using virtual cursor, navigate by headings, jump to the first form field, ...

I'll try to give an example: A page with a form which is coded according to wcag 2.0 (<labels> are used etc. etc.). A Jaws user needs to know how to use Form mode to be able to fill in text fields. Exactly these things are what we'll try to state in our "needed skills document". 

Another example: A table with <TH>-tags etc. A VoiceOver user will not be able to read the table if hedo not know the keyboard command to move into the table.

A third example: In Window Eyes you need a specific shortcut key to perform an internal page search. E. g. in Internet Explorer you'll not use the standard Explorer-shortcut for this.

In other words: even if pages/sites are accessible blind users (and other users typically not using mouse/screen) need some "specific" skills to work efficiently.

The reason for focusing on wcag 2.0 compatible sites in our project is to avoid accessibility barriers. Experienced blind users will also be able to use several poorly designed pages, but our goal is to figure out exactly what's needed when web content is accessible (by definition:-)). 

I have used the web myselves from the very beginning. I did design one of the first sites in Norway (for the research department in Norwegian Telecom). As a blind researcher I'm trying to help disabled users of course (some of the comments I've got are a bit aggressive). Therefore I have some ideas about what is most important, but this has to be documented. We have some knowledge, e. g. the Webaim screen reader survey, but for me it is very desirable to get feedback from other experts, users and developers (or others of course)!

- Morten

-----Opprinnelig melding-----
Fra: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org] På vegne av David Woolley
Sendt: 3. november 2009 22:30
Til: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Emne: Re: How competent must people be to use the Web?

Michael S Elledge wrote:

> representative set of skill levels. In most cases that will include 
> novices as well as more expert users of adaptive technology. We collect 

I don't think he was particularly talking about adaptive technology 
users.  I think he was talking about people who don't belong to the 
computer using generation, and maybe also young people with cognitive 

As well as physical disabilities age, in particular, brings a difficulty 
in learning new technology, a fear of breaking things, and a lack of 
prior experience of that technology.

> Perhaps I've missed your point, but I think the key is not to determine 
> which level of competence is necessary for people to use websites built 
> to WCAG 2.0 guidelines, but to identify which implementations of those 
> guidelines work best for persons with disabilities.

I'd agree that, for web sites designed for accessibility, the need for 
education is a negative quality indicator.

David Woolley
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Received on Tuesday, 3 November 2009 22:37:40 UTC

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