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RE: What's the true value of accessibility accreditation badges?

From: Steve Green <steve.green@testpartners.co.uk>
Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2013 01:37:55 +0000
To: John Foliot <john@foliot.ca>, 'Dr Jonathan Hassell' <jonathanhassell@yahoo.co.uk>, "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <6BDDA23E03987E4C90F4F8B4127D3B7A1475A86C@THHSLE14MBX1.hslive.net>
John, while your comments are correct with respect to self-certification badges, most of them are not true with regard to third-party certifications. All the ones I have seen do specify when the assessment was done, and they are all time-limited before a re-assessment is required. They are not just checklist-based but they include a substantial amount of user testing.

If you read my comments on Jonathan's blog you will see that I am far from uncritical of certifications but I believe they can be of benefit. In a world where so many websites are still inaccessible and probably fewer than 1% have been professionally tested to any degree at all, why be so critical of organisations that want a little recognition for what they have done? So what if the badge means nothing to you? If the website is still inaccessible to some people, the owner can still be held to account (depending on the laws in that country).

I do have a problem with organisations that certify websites that do not meet the standard they claim to, but that is a different issue completely. And what proportion of a website typically changes in a year between assessments? Enough to materially affect the accessibility of many people? It's possible, but unlikely unless the entire website is rebuilt, which ought to invalidate the certification.

Steve Green
Managing Director
Test Partners Ltd

From: John Foliot [mailto:john@foliot.ca]
Sent: 15 January 2013 16:13
To: 'Dr Jonathan Hassell'; w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Subject: RE: What's the true value of accessibility accreditation badges?

Hi Jonathan,

Sadly, I believe that the true value is something close to nothing - a lesson I thought we learned many years ago.

I say this because these types of badges provide a false sense of "compliance" while at the same time (once again) distilling accessibility down to nothing but a checklist of does and don'ts, with little to no thought applied in the process.

Most modern web content today is dynamic, rather than static, which also means that most modern content is changing at various rates of speed, and a 'badge' at best confirms a snapshot of compliance at the time of the evaluation, which could have been yesterday, a week ago, or 7 years ago: the end user has no idea, and the value of the badge is meaningless to most users anyway.

About the only redeeming feature of a badge is in raising awareness amongst developers, which has some limited value; however those developers who are going to care are not going to seek out a badge (what a dated concept anyway), but rather do the heavy lifting and work towards results.  I mean, if all you really want is a badge, insert this into your source-code:

<img src=http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/disbobby.gif alt="Bobby Approved">

Cheers!

JF

From: Dr Jonathan Hassell [mailto:jonathanhassell@yahoo.co.uk]
Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 4:31 AM
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org<mailto:w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Subject: What's the true value of accessibility accreditation badges?

>From WCAG 2.0 AA and Section 508 VPATs to RNIB/AbilityNet Surf Right, DAC and Shaw Trust accreditation, there are a lot of accessibility conformance badges out there.

And a free scheme to accelerate accessibility of websites has just been introduced by the Hong Kong government, using yet another new set of metrics.

So I thought it was about time to have a better think about what the true value of accessibility badges is, both to the organisations that buy them, and to the disabled people who use their sites.

I've written a blog about it:  5 things you should know before buying accessibility audit and accreditation services<http://www.hassellinclusion.com/2013/01/accessibility-accreditation-value/>.

I'd love for you guys to read it, and let me know what you think.

Best regards

Jonathan

--

Prof Jonathan Hassell
Director, Hassell Inclusion

Blog: http://hassellinclusion.com<http://hassellinclusion.com/>
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jonhassell
Received on Thursday, 17 January 2013 01:38:23 GMT

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