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RE: Assistive Technology Detection

From: Phill Jenkins <pjenkins@us.ibm.com>
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 2018 12:45:16 -0600
To: "Lovely, Brian" <Brian.Lovely@capitalone.com>
Cc: Patti Burke Lund <pburkelund@yahoo.com>, "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-Id: <OF861A7E29.2BFBEA5B-ON86258220.006114E9-86258220.006706E5@notes.na.collabserv.com>
I like and subscribe to the idea of a "responsive design" in the digital 
world, which is very different in my mind than the analogy of a universal 
designed physical world.
   "responsive designs" can adjust and reflow to device, environment, and 
user settings and preferences.
   "universal designs" in the physical world have curb cuts on all 
sidewalks or get rid of curbs altogether, have ramps for everyone instead 
of stairs, common height and width standards for knobs and doorways, etc.

But "universal design", is a kind of one size fits most philosophy in my 
opinion.  The feature does not dynamically change or adjust when there are 
still conflicts that arise, such as whether the detectable truncated domes 
on curb cuts benefit the blind user while annoying the heck out of the 
wheelchair user. To be able to adopt the "responsive design" paradigm, we 
as a community need to be specific about what lies in the realm of the 
content and app developer's responsibility, and what is in the realm of 
the user agent (browser and  assistive technology).   Sure there are 
slippery slopes, but the W3C has had both the WCAG and UAAG spec in place 
for over a decade.  We as a community 1. need to push for the adoption of 
UAAG more, 2 and better define the role between AT and the browser itself. 

The so called "responsive design" that reflows to meet 3 screen 
breakpoints paradigm seems to me to be more analogous to designing to meet 
more, a 3 sizes fits more paradigm.  A comprehensive web solution needs to 
be more of a 'One Size fits One" paradigm because we're talking "digital" 
technology that can be responsive and has many stakeholders. 

asking the question "I was wondering if there is any way to detect whether 
a user is using blah blah blah" is the wrong question.  That is putting 
the wrong responsibility on the web site developer. Coding and testing to 
only 3 breakpoints in "responsive design" will work 3 times, until the 
users zooms 200% and is using the tablet strapped to a wheelchair in fix 
portrait mode becasue the user has both mobility impairments and low 

There are 5 or 6 stake holders in the considerations for an accessible 
expereince comprehensive web solution: 
1. the technology owner: HTML, SVG, PDF, etc. - is it even enabled?
2. the standards owner: WCAG, UAAG, ARIA, etc. - is the situation covered?
3. the web site developers - it is compliante with the WCAG standards?
4. the browser owners: Chrome, Firefox, IE, etc.- is it compliant with 
UAAG standard?
5. the Assistive Technology owners: NVDA, ZoomText, browser plug-in 
developers, etc. - does it support the standard implementation?
6. the end-users themselves that have been assessed and training on how to 
improve their settings and preferences to meet their needs?

See the diagram at Essential Components of Web Accessibility, it should 
probably be renamed the essential stakeholders in an accesible web 

So the better question to ask is "Where best does the issue need to be 
solved?" with which of the 6 stake holders? and NOT by web developers 
asking if they can detect the presence of AT and/or end user settings. 
Perhaps there is (or will be) consensus that having all web developers 
detect the screen width (phone, tablet, desktop) and then have their 
designs reflow is required becasue it is the best place for that part of 
the solution, and, then they still need to "work" in 200% zoom, still work 
without color, etc. to be complaint with WCAG as their part of their 
responsibilities as stakeholders in the accessible web solutions 

what was the specific issue or challenge that was trying to be solved when 
the question came up?

Oh, by the way, the questions to ask and the best answers can change over 
time.  For example, now that speech recognition is implemented in most all 
the platforms, is it better to redesign the app to work with voice 
interaction, or is it simply better to allow the addition of the 
microphone mode to input text into form fields so that the UX is familiar 
across all the apps on the platform/device? 

Although I personally have had challenges trying to use the same app on a 
different platforms.  Have you ever switched from Windows to a Mac, or 
iPhone to an Android phone?  and then tried to be as proficient on Word or 
e-mail?  I call that "leanability" not "accessibility.
Phill Jenkins
Check out the new system for requesting an IBM product Accessibility 
Conformance Report VPATŪ at  able.ibm.com/request
Senior Engineer & Accessibility Executive
IBM Research Accessibility

From:   "Lovely, Brian" <Brian.Lovely@capitalone.com>
To:     Patti Burke Lund <pburkelund@yahoo.com>, "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" 
Date:   01/25/2018 11:27 AM
Subject:        RE: Assistive Technology Detection

Here?s a two-step answer: 1) Not yet, although the accessible object model 
will likely allow this when it is implemented. 2) It?s a slippery slope 
that should be navigated thoughtfully and carefully. If you want to 
deliver equivalent experiences to all users, detecting some and shunting 
them to an alternate experience is not the best way to do that. Since 
ensuring accessibility generally improves overall usablility, you would 
want to incorporate accessibility in the application/website, and not in 
some accessible ghetto.
From: Patti Burke Lund [mailto:pburkelund@yahoo.com] 
Sent: Thursday, January 25, 2018 12:04 PM
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Subject: Assistive Technology Detection
Hello Everyone! I had a question come in today from a student. I'm hoping 
this group might be able to provide some insight...
"I understand accessibility needs to be integrated into every aspect of 
your website. I was wondering if there is any way to detect whether a user 
is using support for their disability and then adjust your website to 
support them even more? Kind of similar to the way Responsive Web Design 
detects browser window size then adjusts accordingly?"
Thank you!
Patti Burke Lund
Colorado State University | Journalism & Media Communication
patricia.burke-lund@colostate.edu | pburkelund@yahoo.com | 

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Received on Thursday, 25 January 2018 18:46:23 UTC

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