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Re: Web Accessibility Evaluation and Testing

From: Gregg Vanderheiden <gv@trace.wisc.edu>
Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2011 21:47:59 -0400
To: Emmanuelle Gutiérrez y Restrepo <coordina@sidar.org>
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org, 'Phill Jenkins' <pjenkins@us.ibm.com>
Message-id: <BB813B71-7EB6-4874-9070-D579334CB71A@trace.wisc.edu>
there are no accessible pages
there are no usable pages

there are pages that are accessible to a person, in an environment (physical and technical), carrying out a task.
	- in fact that is the only way you can determine that something is "accessible" in the absolute.
	- that same page may be in accessible to the same person in a different environment (physical or accessible)

the exact same paragraph can be repeated here for usability.

WCAG 2.0 conformance (even Level AAA) (Even Level AAA and all advisory techniques) will not result in an accessible page.    
WCAG 2.0 conformance only means that a page has met a set of accessibility criteria.   Think of it as a 'minimum level' of accessibility.   or better yet  "A minimum set of criteria that a group of people - with input from a broad audience - agreed upon."   

WCAG 2.0 conformance does not guarantee accessibility to all people in all environment doing all tasks.  In fact there are few that could use a WCAG 2.0 page in all environments - and they are probably deaf-blind -  and would have difficulty. 

Usability and accessibility are part of the same dimensions.  Yes plural.    Neither is linear.  But there are no accessible pages that are unusable and no unusable pages that are accessible.  (Note I did not use WCAG 2.0 in this sentence.  See paragraphs above and below. )

Most of the controversy and/or confusion in this area comes from people assuming something along the lines of  "WCAG 2.0 conformant mean accessible."   or   "Accessible means usable."
Many define "Accessible" as meaning "no harder than it is for people without disability".    In fact - in developing WCAG 2.0 we tried to limit ourselves to parity and not stray into usability.   It only had to be "as usable" for people with disabilities as without (or at least that was the ideal).     However, we were defining WCAG 2.0 conformance - not accessibility as an absolute.  

It is too bad that we see studies that say WCAG 2.0 is not good because conformance does not render pages that are unusable (or quite unusable ) to everyone as being usable to people with disabilities.      WCAG 2.0 does not render pages usable.  It does not even render pages accessible.    It does provide an objective minimum standard for accessibility (here meaning a minimum objective standard for comparable usability) (at 3 levels) that was developed through international participation, input and review, that, when followed, will provide a substantial level of accessibility when used with effective user agents, and for some, effective assistive technologies.    For others it is not sufficient to provide accessibility - (though with better assistive technologies it will over time provide increasing levels of accessibility to increasing numbers of people with different types, degrees and combinations of disability --  people who are not well served by WCAG 2.0 and assistive technologies today.) 

Finally, it is important to note that relatively few of the  WCAG 2.0 provisions make things more accessible directly - and many or most of them are for cognitive, language, and learning disabilities.  Most of the provisions make pages more usable with assistive technologies.     As we develop better assistive technologies for some disabilities, (particularly cognitive, language, and learning disabilities ) pages conforming to WCAG 2.0 will become increasingly accessible to these groups.    Some of these assistive technologies however will require considerable research and development.   Due to the size of this population we should be lobbying for increased research in these areas.   It is in fact some of the most challenging and interesting areas scientifically for research - and some of the most needed. 

(these comments are mine and not the WCAG 2.0 working groups)

Gregg Vanderheiden Ph.D.
Director Trace R&D Center
Professor Industrial & Systems Engineering
and Biomedical Engineering
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Co-Director, Raising the Floor - International
and the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure Project
http://Raisingthefloor.org   ---   http://GPII.net

On Jul 13, 2011, at 6:43 PM, Emmanuelle Gutiérrez y Restrepo wrote:

> I agree with Phil. But also, I wonder if those bugs usability should not be that no guidelines have been implemented at Triple A. Because at that level are most of the guidelines represent a clear improvement in usability.
> I think unfortunately, and that I agree with Ian, developers are only concerned with reviewing compliance with the level that required the government of his country or his boss. Instead of dealing in implementing the guidelines, very simply, improve the user experience, whether or not the required level.
> Best regards,
> Emmanuelle
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Emmanuelle Gutiérrez y Restrepo
> Directora de la Fundación Sidar
> Coordinadora del Seminario SIDAR
> www.sidar.org
> email: coordina@sidar.org / emmanuelle@sidar.org
> De: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org] En nombre de Phill Jenkins
> Enviado el: miércoles, 13 de julio de 2011 23:39
> Para: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
> Asunto: RE: Web Accessibility Evaluation and Testing
> Ian wrote: "But conformance alone is not enough to guarantee usability." 
> Generally I agree with this statement, but it would be useful if Ian and others would provide some examples of a page or set of pages that illustrate the usability issues of where there is agreement on conformance to the WCAG 2.0 level A and/or even double AA success criteria, but still not considered usable.  Some examples could help us all understand where best to address the usability issues.   
> My experience has been that many of the quote usability unquote issues have to do with the following categories where the page is fully compliant to WCAG 2.0 AA: 
> a. but equally unusable to everyone (e.g. design or task flow issues), 
> b. but differing usability experiences depending on the browser (user agent) and/or assistive technology the person is using, 
> c. but differing usability experiences depending on the person's configuration and/or habits of how they use their browser and assistive technology.   
> In other words category A is where when there is the same site - but everyone is dissatisfied, confused or lost.   
> B is where the there is the same site and same person (similar end user level), but the issues are really the cause of using a different browser and/or level of AT.   
> And C is where the site is the same, browsers and AT are the same, but the issues are really the cause of the persons having different levels of training or knowledge of how to best use that browser and/or AT.   
> Other classic "usability" issues or categories of issues are often grouped as 
>         ease of learning - first time users vs repeat users - and everything else is equal. 
>         translations or availability in my language choice (e.g., Canadian French vs Creole French) 
> An example of an equally unusable site is my automobile toll tag management web site that complicates the management of account numbers, automobile license numbers, tag transponder numbers - all of those with the actual toll booth transaction amounts and dates and financial accounts (credit card and/or bank account numbers).  The flexibility of having more than one automobile in an account and more than one payment method has complicated the heck out of managing the stuff. 
> An example of B is where the same user is using the same web site, but has a different user experience when using a different browsers and/or a  different versions of an assistive technology (e.g. different level of JAWS, different level of ZoomText, etc.).   
> An example of C is where the same site is used with the same browser and same version of assistive technology, but the one users is unfamiliar with some of the newer browsing techniques that another user may be familiar with such as using assistive technology to navigate by heading vs navigating by landmark or navigating a list of links on the page. 
> Again, some example could help us all understand if the best place to address the issue is with WCAG itself, the web site design, the tools being used, the users familiarity with the tools, or something else. 
> I also think that any evaluation and testing methodology needs to consider if it is 
>         - a new site design verses simply updating content in an existing site design 
>         - a web site verses a web application 
>         - and design evaluations verses conformance testing verses compatibility testing with versions of browsers and AT 
> Regards,
> Phill Jenkins, 
> IBM Research - Human Ability & Accessibility Center
Received on Thursday, 14 July 2011 01:48:47 UTC

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