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Screen Magnification

From: Wayne Dick <waynedick@knowbility.org>
Date: Wed, 22 Apr 2015 14:11:33 -0700
Message-ID: <CAC9gL75qQv7GtKTHV=rmvXLagxhD2SQcuX046yMW5Pv_b4YMGA@mail.gmail.com>
To: WAI Interest Group <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
For some reason not based on usage, the WAI has zeroed in on screen
magnification as some kind of primary assistive technology for people with
partial sight.  This is promoted in the Accessibility API Mappings 1.1 when
screen magnification is listed as the first type of assistive technology.
This gives a class of technology with niche uses at most a  prominence it
does not deserve.

Screen magnification is an extremely poor example of technology to use in
the context of web technology.  This is because screen magnification
ignores the DOM structure and the entire accessibility API.  Some screen
magnifiers make feeble attempts at including this technology but their
efforts are clumsy at best.

Please WAI, stop with trying to promote screen magnification as anything
other that a spot solution that works in limited cases for a small minority
of people with visual impairments. HTML, CSS, the DOM and all accessibility
APIs could be dropped and screen magnification would suffer limited
inconvenience. It has no place in the Accessibility API Mappings 1.1.

That may sound harsh, but I cannot think of a kinder way to put it.  I am
grateful for the developers of this technology but its importance is just
not as significant as the WAI seems to believe.  Shawn's surveys shows
this.  Comparing the purchases of screen magnifiers to the population of
people with partial sight also demonstrates this.  Most people with low
vision do not avoid screen magnification technology because they are
Luddites, as normal people frequently accuse us of being. We use it in
limited ways because its use has limited value. I hope the WAI internalizes
this message and stops presenting screen magnification as a viable solution
for more than a small subset of people with low vision.

 Wayne
Received on Wednesday, 22 April 2015 21:12:01 UTC

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