RE: testing to ensure 508 compliance

This extract from an interview with Doug Wakefield

I assume that for 'farms' and 'farmers' read 'forms' 

Mr. Wakefield. 
And so we have tried and we have not succeeded yet. So
we have tried to make the Web standards as measurable
as possible. But this is why we need more work.

Mr. Banks. 
Well in reality to it makes it much easier for authors
to become compliant.

Mr. Wakefield.
Yes. Because they need, okay what do I do? My ideal,
and I do not know if we can reach it or not, but my
ideal would be to give Web authors standards they
could follow so that they would know they were
compliant without having to test with a screen reader.
I think that that is a subjective way to evaluate Web
accessibility. Because as those of us who use screen
readers know, the level of expertise in the use of a
screen reader varies tremendously.

Dr. Coombs. 
Absolutely. And then varies by browser too.

Mr. Wakefield.
Exactly. It is hard to imagine an office with
developers who have 2020 vision putting the time and
being motivated to really learned the fine points out
the Window Eyes, Jaws, Windows Bridge, or whatever.

Dr. Coombs. 

Mr. Wakefield.
Yes. So I do not think that is the way to go in the
end. I think you need, and we do not have them yet. We
have many that will work, but there are some standards
such as our standards for farmers(sic) for instance.
We put farms(sic) now in the web page section. And it
just as it must be usable with assistive technology. I
want that one improved because it is not measurable

Dr. Coombs. 

Mr. Banks. 
That is not an easy task Doug. I was sitting here
thinking about that is not an easy road to hoe.

Dr. Coombs.
Well as you know Doug, a lot of us have been sitting
on the sidelines yearly trying to guess what was going
to happen. And I am not a lawyer. But it occurred to
me as I looked at some of the WIA guidelines that as
good and useful as they are, they were highly
subjective. And I was hoping you would come out with
things that were as solid and measurable as possible.
That way they would be more likely to be applied and
stay out of the courts. Because the only person that
wins when you go to court is a lawyer anyhow.

Mr. Wakefield. 
I agree. I agree.

A few points come to mind :-

In the above interview it is made clear that Mr
Wakefield considered many of the WAI guidelines to be
too subjective to codify into law, and yet here we are
with a law (accessible forms) which by his own
admission is 'not measurable'.
Time to become a lawyer perhaps?

Although I accept this quote at face value
'Exactly. It is hard to imagine an office with
developers who have 2020 vision putting the time and
being motivated to really learned the fine points out
the Window Eyes, Jaws, Windows Bridge, or whatever.'
As someone who is currently setting up a company to
build accessible web sites this is just the kind of
thing that I expect to have to do.
Otherwise how can I possibly claim to be building
'accessible' sites if I don't even know if they work
with tools like 'JAWS'?

I accept that it is not feasible to state in law which
operating systems and which user-agents a web sites'
forms must be accessible with. 
However, the only? apparent alternative (specifying
the methodology to be used in constructing the
underlying code, such as that stated in WAI Guideline
3 , has been rejected in section 508).

Graham Oliver

--- Robert Neff <> wrote: 
Doug Wakefield is an Accessibility Specialist at The
 U.S. Access Board.
 With his permission, I am making his reply available
 on a question posted on the Interest Group concerning
508 and testing. 
 "The way the law is written each agency is in charge
 of their own compliance. The key is to follow the 508
web  standards. If followed, then liability shouldn't
be an issue. We do recognize that at present a couple
of the standards are difficult to test for, such as
the forms requirement. However most can be examined by
simply looking at the code. "  

Personally, I would like to ask for comments as I feel
the information exchange can help the WAI and all of
us understand the perspectives and issues. Also
looking for things we are missing in the
implementation stage.  May I ask that we maintain a
constructive discussion, as we do not want to get
banned <big smile> .

+      Graham Oliver                             +
+      Director, GOcomputing                     +
+      8 Arnold Street, Grey Lynn                +
+      Auckland, New Zealand.                    +
+      Phone:  64-9-360-1261                     +
+      Mobile: 64-25-919-724                     +
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Received on Tuesday, 16 January 2001 17:32:31 UTC