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Re: Removing PDFs and accessibility

From: Wayne Dick <wed@csulb.edu>
Date: Wed, 4 Apr 2012 16:07:55 -0700
Message-ID: <CAJeQ8SBMA47YzVfV7up2JMX=ypdzsUAqZJF5w=8o2hryXC+mhg@mail.gmail.com>
To: Andrew Kirkpatrick <akirkpat@adobe.com>
Cc: David Woolley <forums@david-woolley.me.uk>, "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Andrew really has a  point.

Agents who claim to improve accessibility, really should have formal
studies refereed by qualified statisticians before they claim that
their products provide an effective treatment for reading
disabilities.  People with disabilities are constantly having
ineffective accessibility enhancements and assistive technologies
foisted on them with little rigorous testing.  I could fill my garage
with assistive products that didn't work.  The key point is that the
burden of proof should be on the party who claims their product is
accessible or improves access, not the person with a disability.
Victoria should test the effectiveness of their change on well known
disability populations using independent investigators.  Everybody who
proposes a product that impacts a significant population should do
that, and do it with serious rigor.  The methodology for testing the
effectiveness of a treatment is well established, but it is not
practiced with IT products that claim to help people with
disabilities.

Today, the burden of proof is placed person with the disability who
has little chance to execute a rigorous experiment.  Sadly,
corporations who do have the resources are not required to fund
research before they launch products which make claims of
accessibility.

We really do need careful user centered studies that rank the
effectiveness of different interventions regarding their ability to
support critical life functions.  For example: given people with
disability group X, how do they perform activity Y using product Z.
As Z ranges over all similar products, how does a particular Z' rank
compared to the field on parameters like: user report on ease of use,
effectiveness in completing tasks, amount of overhead needed to
perform the same task and of course the ability to perform the task at
a level necessary for competitive performance in the workplace.

As far as I have seen, and I have looked, there is very little IT
accessibility research on any product that applies formal analysis to
well defined user goals.  I have never seen anything approaching the
quality of a clinical trial, even though the products under review
claim to provide interventions for physical conditions.  There have
been lots of studies, but very few actually measure the treatment
value of accessibility interventions at a level that is sufficient to
claim effectiveness.

Wayne Dick
Received on Wednesday, 4 April 2012 23:08:24 GMT

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