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RE: Accessible content management system

From: Ian Sharpe <isforums@manx.net>
Date: Fri, 5 Aug 2011 15:34:06 +0100
To: "'Terry Dean'" <Terry.Dean@chariot.net.au>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <1829BC8DCBC24511AD6B32ABC942B567@sharpyPC>
Hi Terry

I'm not sure our views are quite as different as you perhaps feel they are.
I totally agree with you regarding the importants of accessibility
guidelines and validation to improve accessibility. I just feel that web
authors and developers should focus on improving usability rather than
conformance alone, and use the guidelines to help them to this end. They are
after all only guidelines and I have never heard anyone categorically say
that if you follow them to the letter, your site will be usable (and I use
that word carefully here) by all. 

I would agree that it is far more likely to be usable perhaps and certainly
more "accessible" if a site does conform and believe it is very important
for us to have a mechanism for being able to easily validate a site or
service, particularly in relation to relevant legislation.

Indeed, legislation has only really been made possible as a result of
validation and this has possibly had the most significant impact on the
improvement in accessibility in recent years. This cannot be understated and
do not want to see this deminnished in any way. 

I just feel that times have moved on. We cannot continue to keep pace with
developing technologies as can be seen with Web2.0. That's in no way meant
as a criticism by the way. It's only possible to produce guidelines and
methodologies or techniques to address accessibility using a particular
technology when you actually know what the technology does and how people
start to use it. 

If we are going to address these challenges we need to ensure web authors
and developers are aware of the issues and provide advice on how to approach
accessibility as well as provide guidelines and techniques on how to address
specific problems as we currently do. 

There is an increasing awareness regarding accessibility today but feel that
almost as a result of the success of this group's, amongst many others
efforts to promote accessibility, organisations are becoming increasingly
paranoid to look at new or innovative solutions to problems for fear of

I just feel that to ensure the continued improvement in the accessibility of
the web, developers and web authors perhaps need to have a little more
freedom if you like, to think more wholistically about usability and

The issue for me is how to achieve this without compromising the excellent
work that has been done so far to get us to where we are today. 


-----Original Message-----
From: Terry Dean [mailto:Terry.Dean@chariot.net.au] 
Sent: 05 August 2011 14:12
To: Ian Sharpe; w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Subject: Re: Accessible content management system

Hi Ian,

I'm afraid this where we disagree. I think web standards are very important
and conformance to those standards should be an ideal that we as developers
should all be striving towards. Tools are just a useful way for developers
(who are vaguely interested) to see whether a site meets those minimum

After ten years of web development, I am disappointed to see on the WAI site
that there still is not a single authoring tool that fully supports the
production of accessible Web sites. Reference: 

The average internet user is most unlikely to ever use a validation tool so
they have to trust that anyone claiming to adhere to accessibility standards
are in fact implementing those standards. Why bother waving the
"accessibility" flag, if you choose to ignore standards?

Anyway thank you for an interesting view point on accessibility.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Ian Sharpe" <isforums@manx.net>
To: "'Terry Dean'" <Terry.Dean@chariot.net.au>; <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Sent: Friday, August 05, 2011 8:05 PM
Subject: RE: Accessible content management system

> Hi Terry
> As mentioned previously, I personally do not view accessibility solely in
> terms of conformance. And at the risk of being branded a heretic, I
> personally would also like to see this view more widely accepted..
> I personally feel that now too much emphasis is being placed on 
> conformance
> alone and the use of automated tools to validate whether a site conforms 
> to
> relevant guidelines in order to meet any legal obligation rather than to
> necessarily improve the "accessibility" of a site,  online service or web
> application.
> I would like to see authors taking a step back to look at how they can
> ensure their site or application is as usable as possible for their target
> user group and use the various guidelines, techniques and strategies
> promoted by this community to meet this objective and ensure that it is
> accessible.
> Running validators against any site or service is all well and good and
> certainly will help authors to identify potential areas of concern. 
> However,
> automated tools will never be able to tell you whether the site is 
> actually
> usable for all the members of a site's target audience.
> I was directed to another W3C document on strategies for testing
> accessibility when I raised this point in a recent thread. This 
> recommended
> authors / developers engage users with a range of disabilities early on in
> the development of a site or online service and work with them to identify
> potential problems which goes a long way to address my particular 
> concerns.
> However, I personally don't feel enough emphasis is placed on this 
> approach
> and feel that it would be very helpful if organisations used the
> accessibility statement on their site to clearly explain what they have 
> done
> in order to address accessibility, particularly in terms of user testing,
> the combinations of UA, AT, platform and device used to test the site, the
> combination that resulted in the most effective results and how to address
> any known outstanding problems.
> I believe this would have many benefits, not only to potential users by
> managing their expectations and providing useful information on how to
> actually use the site with AT, the best browser to use etc, but also to 
> the
> organisations who I feel would gain credibility for the efforts they have
> made and feel it would also go a long way to addressing a very commonly 
> held
> perception that organisations just don't care and are only really playing
> lip service to accessibility
> I know not all users will have access to the various combinations of
> technology that a site may have used to test their site but if we
> recommended a minimum requirement of using open source AT and most popular
> platforms, most users would be able to decide whether they spent the time
> installing any additional products in order to use the site if their 
> normal
> configuration didn't work. I think just being told how to address any 
> issues
> in order to use the site, or what kind of experience a user should expect 
> in
> itself would help to reduce the frustration a lot of users feel, myself
> included.
> If this formed part of the recommendations for compliance with A, AA, or 
> conformance I feel this would make a significant step in improving web
> accessibility.
> Cheers
> Ian
Received on Friday, 5 August 2011 14:35:00 UTC

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