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Re: Web Accessibility Evaluation and Testing

From: Shawn Henry <shawn@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2011 13:14:43 -0500
Message-ID: <4E1DE093.4040701@w3.org>
To: Ian Sharpe <isforums@manx.net>, WAI Interest Group <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
  Hi Ian,

Thanks for your thoughtful e-mail. The WCAG 2.0 Evaluation Methodology Task Force mentioned in the e-mail archived at http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-ig/2011JulSep/0002.html will focus on conformance to WCAG 2.0. In WAI's broader work we will continue to advocate for accessibility solutions that are highly usable.

We currently have two documents that address some usability-related issues within the context of accessibility:
* Involving Users in Web Projects for Better, Easier Accessibility at http://www.w3.org/WAI/users/involving.html
* Involving Users in Evaluating Web Accessibility at http://www.w3.org/WAI/eval/users.html

I think you will find that WAI material largely supports your position. As always, we welcome additional input.


Shawn Lawton Henry
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
e-mail: shawn@w3.org
phone: +1.617.395.7664
about: http://www.w3.org/People/Shawn/

On 7/13/2011 8:19 AM, Ian Sharpe wrote:
> Hi Shawn
> Apologies if this is covered in the more detailed description of the project
> you gave but will this  task force also consider the usability of a site or
> page as well  as conformance to WCAG2.0?
> I am continually frustrated by sites that provide an accessibility statement
> that explains how the site was designed with accessibility in mind and
> conforms to whatever standard and has been validated using some
> accessibility validator, and yet is still very difficult to use.
> While I totally support the work that is being done here and in other places
> to establish guidelines and standards to improve accessibility, the need for
> doing so, how this has helped to raise awareness of the issues experienced
> by users of the web and the impact this has had on the accessibility of the
> web in recent years, I feel that some organisations are now using
> conformance to the various standards to satisfy any obligations under
> anti-discrimination legislation, rather than to necessarily improve
> accessibility.
> I totally accept that if a site conforms to WCAG1.0 or now WCAG2.0, it is
> far more likely to be accessible than if it doesn't and would always
> recommend that site designers use such standards when developing or
> modifying sites. But conformance alone is not enough to guarantee usability.
> Whether a site is usable depends on what the site is supposed to do, as well
> as the accessibility of the content, which obviously makes it difficult to
> provide any specific techniques or guidelines on how to ensure usability.
> However, maybe any guidelines or information relating to validation in
> particular could be prefaced with some cover all that states that it is not
> enough to conform to the guidelines to ensure a site is accessible. You
> would hope that issues relating to usability would be picked up during
> testing but this would appear not to be the case and so maybe there is also
> an argument to highlight the importants of testing more than maybe it is
> already?
> I am concious that this could just be seen as yet another thing for
> designers to consider at a time when we are just starting to see a movement
> towards greater support and adoption of the guidelines.
> I just feel that it might be helpful if maybe more emphasis was placed on
> making sites useable and using the various standards and guidelines to this
> end, rather than focussing primarily on conformance.
> Cheers
> ian
> -----Original Message-----
> From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org] On Behalf
> Of Shawn Henry
> Sent: 13 July 2011 10:02
> To: WAI Interest Group
> Subject: Web Accessibility Evaluation and Testing
>    Dear WAI Interest Group Participants,
> WAI is starting a WCAG 2.0 Evaluation Methodology Task Force to develop more
> comprehensive guidance on evaluating web accessibility.
> The Evaluation Task Force will develop an internationally harmonized
> methodology for evaluating websites' conformance to WCAG 2.0. The
> methodology will provide provides a step-by-step procedure for evaluating
> websites, including guidance on sampling individual web pages, evaluating
> them according to WCAG 2.0, and aggregating the results into a conformance
> statement. To learn more about the scope of work and anticipated timeline,
> see the WCAG 2.0 Evaluation Methodology Task Force (Eval TF) Work Statement
> at:
> http://www.w3.org/WAI/ER/2011/eval/eval-tf
> The methodology is part of a wider W3C/WAI effort on web accessibility
> evaluation and testing, which includes the development of test suites for
> all WAI guidelines and specifications. For more information, see W3C/WAI Web
> Accessibility Evaluation and Testing Activities at:
> http://www.w3.org/WAI/ER/2011/eval/
> If you would like to get announcements when drafts of the methodology are
> available, you can subscribe to WAI's RSS feed, tweets, or other venues
> listed at:
> http://www.w3.org/WAI/about/announcements
> If you might be interested in actively participating in this work, please
> read Participating in WAI at:
> http://www.w3.org/WAI/participation
> and then contact Shadi Abou-Zahra, see http://www.w3.org/People/shadi/
> Please let us know if you have any questions.
> Feel free to circulate this message to other lists; please avoid
> cross-postings where possible.
> Regards,
> ~Shawn Lawton Henry
> &  Shadi Abou-Zahra
> -----
> Shawn Lawton Henry
> W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
> e-mail: shawn@w3.org
> phone: +1.617.395.7664
> about: http://www.w3.org/People/Shawn/
Received on Wednesday, 13 July 2011 18:14:53 UTC

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