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Web accessibility versus general accessibility standards

From: Edward Chalk <edwardchalk@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 20 Sep 2021 10:01:58 +1000
Message-ID: <CALuG9w-VYsdZfumLyKVjtWNexSB5DdyAoYt1XKo34UHGLZ8hjA@mail.gmail.com>
To: public-coga-community@w3.org
Hi All,

Just some thoughts, if I may :-)

General accessibility standards imply that the goods/services should be
usable by people with disabilities as well as by full-functioning people.
For example, we may provide a wheelchair ramp into a building so that the
building is accessible both to people who require wheelchairs in order to
be mobile, as well as to people who walk. So when we talk about Internet
accessibility for people with cognitive disabilities, we could mean the
same thing. In other words, we could mean that a person with a cognitive
disability should be able to use a website, as well as a person who does
not have a cognitive disability.

However, it may be worthwhile considering that we are potentially talking
about two sorts of websites. Originally, a website was nothing more than an
online way of representing text and / or images, and some websites still
operate on that basis. For these types of websites, the analogy to the
wheelchair ramp is correct. Different to this is the modern trend where a
website is an intelligent agent that proactively interacts with the user.
Here, the website is expected to engage and interact with the user in the
same way as a person (i.e. the web site meets the Turing Test
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_test> to some extent). In this
paradigm, the website becomes an active agent and not just a passive body
of knowledge.

For an active-agent type website, the question of accessibility seems to be
more: Can the intelligent-agent interact with a user who has a cognitive
disability, on their own terms?

Subsequently, it may not be altogether clear that applying a universal
standard for the accessibility of goods/services to the accessibility of
information systems, such as the Internet, may lead to quite the right
outcomes and conclusions, since the accessibility of an intelligent-agent
that is implemented through an information system, does not mean the same
thing as enhanced passive accessibility that is relevant to general goods
and services.

Cheers,

Edward
Received on Monday, 20 September 2021 00:02:23 UTC

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