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Re: Accessible content management system

From: Andy Heath <w3@axelrod.plus.com>
Date: Sat, 06 Aug 2011 15:31:30 +0100
Message-ID: <4E3D5042.8020503@axelrod.plus.com>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

Your comments about the usefulness of automated testing tools seem to be 
valid and correct to me.  I do have a problem with the comment below 
though ..

> The second thing I'd like to comment on is the notion that compliance
> with guidelines does not mean a site is accessible. To be frank, I'd
> like to see data that backs this up.  In my opinion, if you've tested a

Isn't this a little like arguing that say one drove a car from A to B 
and it didn't break down therefore it never will ? Testing is only ever 
going to reveal properties around what one is testing for and not 
whether there are properties outside the scope of the tests that fail.

The problem as I see it is with limited expectations.  "I've met the 
guidelines therefore I've "done" all I need to do". I am reminded of the 
anecdote told on one BBC Ouch radio programme that Liz Carr told about 
not being able to reach the counter in a post office and being informed 
"Well we meet the Disability Guidelines" - the implication being "you 
*should* be able to reach".

To be accessible to everyone we do need to meet the requirements of 
every individual at the time needed - and that may be the meaning of 
conformance to some standards - but unless we *know* the individual 
concerned and their requirements at the time then that's a little 
impractical (sometimes we can/do know the individual). So 
producer-focussed guidelines "average" requirements.  In some cases that 
might mean in practice "accessible to many but optimal to nobody and not 
accessible at all to some".  Is that a case to say its accessible and 
one need not do more ?

It seems to me this is a problem that extends always to the place where 
design meets use.  For example a council might design a cycling facility 
they think I would want but which is a million miles from what I 
actually need - of course they didn't ask me because that would have 
been impractical.  Roads are designed for what - to meet the needs of 
*every* user ?  I think not. Show me the freeway designed for me to 
cycle on.  In the world of physical buildings and roads it must be this 
way because the costs (money, time, material, labour etc.) of 
reconfiguring entities is very high.  But it doesn't have to be that way 
with computer systems.

That is, it doesn't have to be that way if we can shift some of the 
organisational constraints that are there only because we don't like 
change and we are still operating as if its the physical world. It 
doesn't have to be this way - it can be better.

To my mind human beings are much richer than machines can ever model and 
to fall back on the idea that the model we use represents the reality is 
a cop-out and in many cases an excuse for some other agenda which may 
have more to do with business goals than any claimed truth.  I have no 
problem with that, its the real world here and there *are* real 
constraints but lets be honest here and stop pretending we've done 
everything that could be done.  We haven't.

Received on Saturday, 6 August 2011 14:31:59 UTC

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