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FW: Requested WAI review response

From: James Allan <allan_jm@tsb1.tsbvi.edu>
Date: Tue, 05 Jan 1999 14:39:17 -0600
To: WAI-EO <w3c-wai-eo@w3.org>
Message-id: <001501be38eb$77122360$0100007f@localhost>
From: Rebecca A. Thomsen [mailto:rebecca@parkpoint.org]
Sent: Tuesday, December 22, 1998 4:54 PM
To: allan_jm@tsb1.tsbvi.edu
Subject: Requested WAI review response


Hello,
Richard Wanderman gave my name to Jim Allen as having knowledge of LD &
accessibility issues.  Thank you for contacting me in regards to LD
accessibility needs and using the web.
Unfortunately, I couldn't access my e-mail for about 2 weeks, and didn't
get the review invitation until Dec. 19th., so I'm reading the material as
quickly as I can.  Please bear in mind I've only had a few hours to review
the material.  However accessibility issues are critical and I'm committed
to this work.  Because of time constraints, I'll try using both small and
big picture observations, primarily using the agenda notes from the Ed &
outreach Dec. 11-98 mtg. as a spring board.

If I am understanding the review dates correctly, the deadline is the 22nd?
Because of only having a few hours to review, my response will be quite
limited.  I would like to have been more comprehensive.  If, after
12-22-98, you have use for further input from me, I will be glad to assist
in any way I can.  I  should be able to respond better in the future.

* Choice of guideline work: I am interested in all 3 of the guidelines, but
have chosen the Education & Outreach Working Group.  Why? It is critical,
not only for individuals but all segments of societies thru out the world.
Without options, vital input  for the functions, concerns, and beauty of
our now global communities, will be lost.  People with LD are often
extremely bright, creative divergent thinkers who can provide new
perspectives and needed solutions.  I also think there is another piece to
bear in mind while working with these guidelines.  These differences in
processing styles not only involve every aspect of a persons life across
the board, they also impact all ages; it is not just a childhood issue.
And searching out  workable methods for all to participating at full
capacity, is a life time challenge as well.  If we fail to see the value of
accessibility, we fail to see a vast group of people with a great variety
of skills and talents.  We fail to see and fully utilize all of the
critical resources they represent.  We may also be failing to fully utilize
the resources we already have available.  We must not limit our world at a
time when it can no longer afford to waste anything.

If I  sound to business like or primarily interested in the profit angle,
let me reassure you of my connection with the human side.  I'm very  aware
of how painfully difficult  accessibility issues are, and how frustrating
the struggle for change can be.  But I've learned over the years, that
presentations based solely on a passionate plea to people's hearts, is
often short lived when achieved.  The intellectual approach eventually
wanes too.  I've found that what hits home and stays the longest is
people's instinctive will to survive, which means economics.  In the long
run, the reality of financial concerns is often what sparks the necessary
motivation.  As people consider that changing, expanding available methods,
will enhance and increase their financial potential, they are better able
to lay aside and eventually let go of previous biases.

* My perspective: I'm reviewing from the cognitive or learning disabilities
consideration.
* Explanation of terms: From here on abbreviated as LD, it is often
referred to as a difference in learning or processing style, which is not
to be confused as a sign of intelligence or capacity to comprehend and
contribute.  It is simply having to do things in a different way,
discovering what methods are most effective and than finding ways to
implement those methods.
 * Specific barriers particularly considered:
        pg.1  Cross-Disability Review of WAI Guidelines 12-9-98
 * " do the guidelines reflect access requirements of people who have
   difficulty understanding or navigating through a lot of text, or
   remembering where they are in a document"

 * " are there other issues which affect access to the Web for people with,
   physical or cognitive disabilities, and are not already adequately
reflected     in the documents."
     Please forgive me if my comments have already been addressed, I've
just come on board.

                              Web Accessibility Guidelines Review

        Education & Outreach -
        developing training and reference material,
        explanations of why needed...

  * December 11,1998 Meeting minutes:

  1.  Outreach updates
  * CL's web-developer training invitation

Question: Is the curriculum being given as "a good practical test"  to be
tested by those needing increased accessibility before being tried out on
web developer trainings?

Comment: As we design accessible solutions, is there enough representation
and experimentation to insure the end results fulfill our goals?  If this
is to truly happen, I think it means insuring those actually needing and
using the services have key roles in working with those who are willing to
design the services.  How will those not actually needing the expanded
accessibility be able to ascertain it's effectiveness if they don't
actually need it? People can have the best of interest and intent, but if
lacking the need, be limited in their ability to genuinely assess.  It is
extremely difficult to provide something one does not truly know, but must
surmise.  All parties are needed in sufficient numbers to provide balance
of perspective and input for results to be a beneficial product in the long
run.

Concern: Is or has there been enough input and trial by all those needing
these work?  Without sufficient input and accessibility trials, how will
the effectiveness be ascertained?  If missing pieces are discovered later,
parts that need including, will the web-developers have the time, interest
and willingness to go back and unlearn what they were presented with in
practice trials ?

 2. Discussion: do we need short & friendly guidelines version?

Question:
When and who do we decide to begin the education and outreach with?  Is is
possible that WAI could model the challenges we are presenting to the web?
Would this mean that volunteers and staff would consider that the point of
accessibility actually begins within the WAI work itself?   How close are
we to being able to practice what we want to teach?

Note * Specific barriers being considered: pg.1  Cross-Disability Review of
WAI Guidelines 12-9-98
        * " do the guidelines reflect access requirements of people who
have                    difficulty understanding or navigating through a
lot of text, or                                remembering where they are
in a document"

Comments:

A. Sometimes people on committees, teams, projects ...  see the work as
being for "out there", when education and change essentially begins
wherever we are.  We are most powerful when we ourselves learn, understand,
and embrace new ways of doing things.  When we can model  by example, we
start incorporating our goals from the beginning.  It can seem to take
longer, be frustrating, even down right irritating as we work from day one
to shift gears from doing something for "those people", to working at
limiting as much us and them dynamics as is possible.  Seeing ourselves as
one community of people having differences will allow us to function
better.  Working groups at WAI aren't that different from the rest of the
world in needing to better educate and establish outreach within it's own
perimeters.   Any time an issue is projected elsewhere become part of the
process however latent and limits begin to set in.

B. Sometimes there are ways to do both within one form.  It may simply mean
providing the same material with a few additional helps.  I've tried to use
some of these in  this response, effecting the format rather than the
content.
        1. Separate the actual guidelines from other material by
distinguishing as such, using                  various tools.  This allows
those who want simplification to better zero in on material useful  for
them while being able to discard the text.  I found some of that technique
already                  being used, and was very thankful for it myself.
        2. Design the tools with the greatest flexibility, the best
accessibility as is possible.  For          example:        a. Use tools as
an information guide
                        b. Combine tools so as not to isolate specific
needs.
                        c.  In using this approach,     nothing is lost
more is gained.
        3. Work at preventing one need being met at the expense of another.
        Page Authoring tool guidelines
        A.5 Ensure that text and graphics are perceivable.... with color
        Techniques:
        1. Don't use color to convey information ...

        NOTE: This will need careful attention.  One of the tools people
with LD often use and rely     on heavily is color!  Color is a necessary
guide and represents necessary information                   and critical
help.  This would be a typical Red Flag issue!

C. A variety of thoughts on the subject were expressed at the mtg.   Here's
some more.  It is commonly understood people fall into 1 of at least 3
styles of learning and is it 7 different intelligences?  An easy example is
the difference between visual and auditory, rote memory and story, liner
line or woven styles...  I wonder if those finding the work fine and
necessary the way it was, are primarily written text learners.  They would
be inclined to see it working best the way it is and wouldn't experience
concerns with the presentation.  Where as others, using a different style
of processing, might find it frustrating.  This is a good opportunity to
practice education and outreach, to learn about how different styles and
practice the art of accessibility.  There is also a difference between the
need to simplify by reducing information (content) vrs. allowing for
various styles (format) Distinguishing the difference is important.
Implying, if done seriousness, that someone using a different style should
dummy down is discounting their capacity for content, it's disrespectful
and insulting.  Is it not important for WAI  to learn, respect and value
differences; to become aware of it's own educational needs and how to
practice dealing with accessibility as the work goes along?  No group is
comprised of fully informed people, because it's impossible for one person
to know everything.  That's one of the reasons we form groups.   Is the
group supporting the intent of the mission?  We're asking the web to adapt,
be flexible enough to be accessible, wouldn't it stand to reason the force
behind this goal incorporate these concepts as well?  Much can be gained by
it.  What if the degree that WAI integrates these directives within itself,
dictates the degree of leading others, such as web sites, to these goals?

Concern:

I've found that how groups grapple with these issues reflects it's
fundamental values and choices,  which in turn impacts the effectiveness of
their mission and the final results.  In an area where there has been
little work so far, like the web, it's true that anything might seem better
than what was before.  But whatever gets done and how it's done is setting
precedent, patterns, and habits for future work.  Therefore, the work that
WAI is doing, is perhaps of even greater importance than it's tangible
work.  We already have a lot of systems in our societies that need to be
reassessed for dramatic change.  How wonderful to have fresh new virgin
territory.  And how many safeguards, checks and balances do we have in
place that will help prevent our carrying over some of the same pitfalls
all ready established and internalized.  Are there enough checks and
balances in place?  Are they active, can they help catch us if and when we
begin to slide into practices we want to prevent?  And if there's concern
that more of this help is needed, how attentive to this need are we being?
If we discount this need we may be tempted to impatiently proceed, wining
the immediate battle but losing the war.  The bottom line may be, we're in
the delicate process of working with organizations and people who have a
wide range of understanding and effectiveness, themselves ranging from
being a great help, with lots of productive ideas that work well, to
programs that don't quite get it themselves.  So, I return to the idea of
checks and balances that can safeguard the valuable and necessary mission
of WAI.  And I can not emphasize enough, the need for input and trial by
those with the full range of accessibility issues.

I find I am out of time, I'll have to just send what I have here.  I truly
regret not having more than one day to work on this material.  But I'll
also include a few ideas that hit me right off.

* Specific barriers being considered: pg.1  Cross-Disability Review of WAI
Guidelines 12-9-98
        * " do the guidelines reflect access requirements of people who
have                    difficulty understanding or navigating through a
lot of text, or                                remembering where they are
in a document"
        * " are there other issues which affect access to the Web for
people                    with, physical or cognitive disabilities, and are
not already adequately                reflected in the documents."

1. Use color, but Insure information is perceivable if viewed without color
by using other parallel          tags and markers to convey and track
messages, such as a predictable symbol or text notes.
3. Allow for the choice of a basic flow chart of a site for those needing
it as a guide, esp. until they   become familiar with the site, otherwise
they may get lost and give up.
4. Design a way for helps to stay on screen as they walk you thru a
procedure.  Many helps   disappear as soon as you proceed.  You have to
memorize the material, printed it out, write it   by hand if you don't have
access to a print immediately or get frustrated trying to go back and
  forth on each step.
5. Include the length of a help file for those printing them out.  Is it
going to be 3, 12, 30 pages?
   The length may impact whether and when it's printed out.
6. Allow for methods of visual , scanning and  tracking, so material can be
followed without   having to read/translate all the text into the person's
style of processing.
7. Consider the need for indexing on all helps, not just table of contents.
A person has to already   have gained a certain level of info to best use
a T of C. or may have trouble tracking thru one.

Note: I've downloaded whole program manuals I can't use because I need an
index more than               a Table of Contents

Thank you for your time and effort on this project.
Sincerely,
Rebecca A. Thomsen
rebecca@parkpoint,org     801. E 2nd St.  Apt. 413        Duluth, MN  55805
218-727-7992
Received on Tuesday, 5 January 1999 15:42:38 UTC

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