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On difficulties with low vision

From: Wayne E Dick <wayneedick@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2014 08:24:01 -0700
Message-ID: <53480911.8090404@gmail.com>
To: w3c-wai-eo@w3.org
Sharron: Thank you for bringing up the Wiki problem.  Eric thanks for 
finding the div to exclude.  It would have taken  me hours to find that 
using zoomed PRE code you get from "source views".

To the Group:

I am sorry about bringing up low vision so much right now, in fact, 
accessibility support for this disability is so poor, and so little 
effort in the accessibility community is put into addressing it, that it 
is difficult to participate in the community.  How much feedback are you 
going to get from the low vision community if you have to be a professor 
of computer science to participate?

The deep problem is WCAG 2.0 explicitly wrote low vision out of 
effective accessibility.  SC 1.4.4 as interpreted by WCAG WG in 
Understanding WCAG 2.0 asserts that enlargement without reflow is 
reasonable accommodation.  It is accommodation, but it is less effective 
than screen reader support.

We don't even have a vocabulary to discuss the issues. When we talk 
about an accessibility issue for blindness, everyone has a frame of 
reference.  When we talk about low vision we have no vocabulary.

Here are some basic principles:

Enlargement with reflow: In WCAG 2.0 it is Level AAA, it should be Level A.

Access to color, font, spacing, size, box model at the element level: 
The old Section 508 that said a page must be readable without any style 
sheet is better than anything in WCAG 2.0. Access to color, font, 
spacing, size and box model should be Level A.

Simple visual access to all information that is displayed to the screen 
reader upon request. Like landmarks and aria-labels. This should be Level A.

Semantic navigation tools that are mouse accessible:  JAWS is 
inaccessible to a person with limited sight because forces a blind 
interface on people who spend there entire life balancing partial sight. 
It is a profoundly different skill set, but is different than coping 
with blindness. Semantic Mouse navigation should be Level A.

WCAG 2.0 doesn't really meet the real Level A for low vision.

The Council of Citizens with Low Vision has a is first principle to 
support the vision each person has available.  In the accessibility 
community makes you feel like having some sight is cheating, and there 
is no real effort to nurture it.

The entire community needs to become familiar  with low vision behavior 
especially the interplay between readable and perceivable, and how that 
effects workflow.  We are not blind and we need separate accommodation 
that can be derived from common accessibility standards to meet all needs.

Maybe EO could do a piece on the real needs of low vision.  This would 
be educational, not technical.  If our conclusion is that WCAG 2.0 
doesn't meet the real Level A for low vision, then so be it.

Please read this carefully.  I am little upset, but it is not a rant. We 
have to make time for this.  WCAG currently leaves our 3/4 of people 
with visual impairments and doesn't even talk about it as formal business.

Wayne
Received on Friday, 11 April 2014 15:24:31 UTC

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