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Perspectives on usability and accessibility (from Jim Tobias)

From: Shawn Henry <shawn@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2010 13:28:01 -0600
Message-ID: <4CED6741.3000804@w3.org>
To: wai-eo-editors <wai-eo-editors@w3.org>
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: RE: Perspectives on usability and accessibility
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 2010 09:34:31 -0500
From: Jim Tobias <tobias@inclusive.com>
To: 'Shawn Henry' <shawn@w3.org>,	<shadi@w3.org>

Thanks for the opportunity to review this article.

Let me say first that it is really excellent just as it is, and addresses an
obviously important issue.  So, thanks for the work that has gone into it,
and please let me know if I can help it reach a larger audience.  I am
always concerned that super-experts are communicating well with each other,
but the majority of practitioners, even in a highly professionalized
environment like usability, are missing out.

There are a few points that could be added, although you may have already
considered them and some certainly appear in other WAI resources, including
ones this article points to:

1. The legal accessibility requirements in some jurisdictions can be a
powerful argument in support of general usability work.

2. User-centeredness should include an accurate model of a site's users, and
this should be reflected in how accessibility is addressed.  For example,
the design of an administrative back end tool can make certain assumptions
about users's screen reader expertise that a public-facing site cannot; the
same is true about daily usage vs. rare usage.  In practice this may show up
as a rubric about the JAWS cursor: if you need to use it to make the site
work, that passes for a sysadmin but fails for the general public.

3. Some usability folks think of accessibility as very hard to do.  I think
it looks hard at the abstract level, but actually gets easy when you get
concrete.  A sentence about this might alleviate some anxiety.

4. I would take a sentence like "Products designed to meet accessibility
requirements are more usable for everyone." and make it more nuanced, such
as "Products designed to meet accessibility requirements are usually more
usable for everyone, and when there are conflicts between these goals there
are solid resources for resolving most of them.  WAI wants to encourage an
open dialogue that honestly addresses these situations and promotes
professional development."

Just to be picky, I think in the 3rd line you mean "goals are complementary"
not "goals are complimentary".

One final idea -- wouldn't it be great to have a view of WCAG 2.0 that
indicated which guidelines have lots of general usability value, which
don't, and which sometimes work at cross-purposes (and what to do about
that)?  Maybe you already have things like that spread around, but putting
it all in one place might make it an excellent 'sales tool' for the U/A
crossover value idea.  It might also help to identify those issues that
really are just about accessibility, and assign them to dedicated
accessibility resources.  I know of several firms that have turf warfare
over some of this.

I hope this has been helpful; feel free to share this however you wish.

Jim Tobias
Inclusive Technologies
+1.908.907.2387 v/sms
skype jimtobias
Received on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 19:28:11 UTC

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