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RE: Web Accessibility Evaluation and Testing

From: Ian Sharpe <isforums@manx.net>
Date: Thu, 14 Jul 2011 12:30:11 +0100
To: "'Gregg Vanderheiden'" <gv@trace.wisc.edu>, "'Emmanuelle Gutiérrez y Restrepo'" <coordina@sidar.org>
Cc: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>, "'Phill Jenkins'" <pjenkins@us.ibm.com>
Message-ID: <840F89A777DF4887B17FC33D1B599F40@sharpyPC>
Thanks all for the very constructive feedback. 
I do appreciate that many factors, including AT, OS, device, environment,
browser, experience, etc, as well as conformance to any standards,  all
affect how easy someone finds it to use a particular  site. But my point is
more about the approach that I feel web designers and developers are now
tending to adopt in order to improve the accessibility of a site. That is, I
feel that they are looking at conformance to the various standards  rather
than taking a step back and asking themselves how they can make the site as
easy to use for people with disabilities and using the standards and
guidelines to help them achieve this goal.
To give an example, consider a blog or web forum. I am registered blind
myself ,  and use the NVDA screen reader to access web content on the whole,
although I can still see enough to use a computer with very strong glasses
and / or screen magnification and a high contrast colour scheme. I haven't
ever had too many problems reading blogs or online forums but know that it
takes me much longer to read through posts than it would a sighted person. I
have to continually arrow down through what is to me superfluous information
such as the person's alias, date, avatar image, links to social networking
or bookmark sites, ratings, number of postsetc in order to read what is
often a one word or line answer such as I agree. And so have to go through
the same process again to get to a hopefully more helpful comment. 
I don't want to get into a debate about whether all of this information is
important or helpful as I'm sure it is but a sighted person can easily pick
out the comment from amongst all of the other noise and then use the noise
when they want to.
Some blogs or forums are better than others and I suspect some screen
readers may behave differently when confronted with such content, but for
the most part, these sort of sites are far more awkward, cumbersom,
difficult to use for me than for sighted people.
I know that there are many ways to resolve this issue using techniques in
WCAG and ARIA has the role="article" attribute which once implemented  by
browsers/AT may help to address this particular issue, but my point is that
many of these sites will conform to WCAG1.0/2.0 to some level, and yet are
still not particularly easy to use for somebody using a screen reader.
However, if web designers and developers of these type of platforms were
aware of the issues people like me have when using the web and focussed on
thinking how they could address these issues while maintaining the usability
and convenience their sighted users experience, and using the standards and
guidelines to this end, I believe they could create more "accessible" sites.
This is obviously related to whether sites consider accessibility from the
outset or try to bolt it on retrospectively and know that much of what I am
saying is covered by the various guidelines and standards. But I don't feel
this particular message is being communicated as well as it could be. 
I genuinely feel that it would be helpful if designers / developers try to
take a step back to look at what they are trying to do, who the users are
and how best to meat all of their needs and used the standards and
guidelines to this end, rather than using them to simply ensure that the
content is conformant, and hence satisfies any legal obligation.
As I said previously though, how this could be achieved is another matter.
You hope that testing would highlight the kind of issues I'm thinking about
but by that time, it may be too far down the line to do much about it. More
examples of good practice in common usage scenarios would obviously be
helpful and perhaps encouragement to read through the guidelines in their
entirety to help designers get a better feel for the issues might also
improve understanding.  
But  in the main, unless the developers or designers have a lot of
experience in this area, it is just not easy. In fact, maybe even simply
stating that to ensure your site is accessible is not easy would also help.

P.S. I am obviously aware that web accessibility affects many more groups of
people than simply the visually impaired but hope that readers will
understand that I simply use this as an example and in no way mean to
disregard the issues that others experience when using the web and the need
to address accessibility for everyone, not just the visually impaired. It is
simply the area in which I have most experience and hence am hopefully able
to express more effectively.


From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org] On Behalf
Of Gregg Vanderheiden
Sent: 14 July 2011 02:48
To: Emmanuelle Gutiérrez y Restrepo
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org; 'Phill Jenkins'
Subject: Re: Web Accessibility Evaluation and Testing

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

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 Gutiérrez y Restrepo
Directora de la Fundación Sidar
Coordinadora del Seminario SIDAR
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

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
        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 
Phill Jenkins, 
IBM Research - Human Ability & Accessibility Center
Received on Thursday, 14 July 2011 11:31:22 UTC

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