FW: proposal for removing guideline 3 (and working on it after last call as an extension)

Hi Lisa,

The question keeps coming up with regard to support for those with cognitive
disabilities so let me take a bit here to address it.  

   There are many success criteria that address cognitive disabilities.   I
think we are confusing direct access with access.    Most of the guidelines
for people who are blind - do not make content directly accessible to them.
They make the content determinable by assistive technologies that then make
the content available to them.    Similarly there are many success criteria
that make content determinable so that AT for people with cognitive
disabilities can make it available to that group.   Reading it to them.
Displaying it is symbols. Highlighting the structure.  Presenting it in
pieces. Providing definitions.  And increasingly, presenting it to them in
simpler forms.  

Some people have argued that AT access is ok for people who are blind but it
must be direct access for people with cognitive disabilities.  Clearly it
would be (and is) better to have direct access by everyone.  But it is not
fair to insist that only direct access provisions count.  Not all blind
people have access to AT either - and we need to be working on creating
better and more affordable AT for all disabilities in all languages.  But
that is beyond our working group here. 

Also, please note that cognitive disabilities are different in another way.
It is possible to make content accessible to people with mild visual
disability all the way down to no sight.  With mild hearing disability all
the way down to no hearing.   And with mild physical disability all the way
down to no physical movement.   In all three cases, there are only some
small types of information (usually sensory specific experiences) that we
cannot make accessible.    But with cognitive disabilities, we are unable to
make thing accessible to those with no cognition.  And much information will
be inaccessible (incomprehensible) to those with profound cognitive
disabilities.  Also, as we simplify beyond a certain point, we lose
information.  So in order to provide access to all levels of cognitive
disability we need to provide multiple versions of the information.  Each
one simple enough to be understood by that level but not so simple as to
eliminate information that that level is capable of comprehending.  

Finally, unless one has an instrument to make the judgment (and one that is
available in a very wide range of languages) we have great trouble with
cognitive success criteria being created that are testable.  

My doctoral work was in language and cognitive development and we ran a
program for communication for people with cognitive disabilities.    So this
is not an area that is foreign or not of interest to me.  

The working group has been (and is) very open to all suggestions that meet
the requirements that we have for our guidelines and success criteria.
Cognitive always is a tough area.  It is not the only area that is not fully
met in the guidelines.  In fact all disabilities fall short somewhere.
Content that meets WCAG 2.0 will not be accessible. But it will be much more
accessible - especially if one uses AT.  

If you have additional ideas to present - please do.  But we don't want to
remove what we have been able to figure out just because we can't figure it
all out.   We basically agree more research is needed to find better
solutions for cognitive and language-related disabilities.  Also note that
WCAG 2.0 is structured so that new sufficient techniques can be added as
technologies and techniques evolve.  If you have ideas for testable, broadly
applicable success criteria - send those along now. 


 -- ------------------------------ 
Gregg C Vanderheiden Ph.D. 
Professor - Ind. Engr. & BioMed Engr.
Director - Trace R & D Center 
University of Wisconsin-Madison 

-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org] On Behalf
Of Lisa Seeman
Sent: Tuesday, January 03, 2006 2:02 AM
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Subject: proposal for removing guideline 3 (and working on it after last
call as an extension)

I am very concerned with the way guideline 3 has shaped out (about making 
content understandable).

As the checkpoint stands now it  addresses some usability issues, but does 
not , in my opinion,  address the kind of issues that makes sites unusable, 
but specifically with people with cognitive disabilities (not just less 
usable for most  people)

I understand that this is a very trick subject when balancing issues like 
adoptability and American legislative requirements.

I therefore have  three suggestions:

Option 1. We take out of the WCAG definition that all types of disabilities 
are being addressed. There is very little or nothing for people with many 
cognitive disabilities, such as Aphasia, (not mild) autism,  non specific 
learning disability etc..who I doubt will find most WCAG 2.0 AAA sites 
accessible. However, as part of this suggestion, after we go to last call we

start real work on an extension guideline that seriously addresses access 
for people with cognitive disabilities. This would work from the ground up, 
which a clear and appropriate  mandate, specification and gap analysis to 
create a true roadmap of success criteria and techniques creation for 
addressing this important issue. We could now simply  remove guideline three

from the WCAG 2.0 draft , which does not achieve very much anyway.

The advantages are: WCAG 2.0 is not held up on  this issue, adoption is not 
compromised and we are being honest about what we are really doing. On the 
other hand, this will give us a chance to genially focused on  access for 
cognitive disabilities and maybe even get somewhere.  In other words 
everyone wins beyond some need to be all things to all people all of the 

Option 2, The other alternative is that we hold up last call and actually 
develop techniques, successes criteria  and checkpoints that solve this 
issue now.

Option3, We take out of the WCAG definition that all types of disabilities 
are being addressed and let people look elsewhere if they which to provide 
access for all disabilities. It may be better then to give people the 
impression that they are accommodating more people then they really are.

All the best
Lisa Seeman


Received on Wednesday, 4 January 2006 22:19:25 UTC