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Re: The two models of accessibility

From: David Poehlman <poehlman1@comcast.net>
Date: Wed, 02 Apr 2003 06:42:33 -0500
To: Isofarro <w3evangelism@faqportal.uklinux.net>, Graham Oliver <goliver@accease.com>, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-id: <002001c2f90c$f3fad120$6501a8c0@handsontech>

Mike and all, I am not even certain that current usability practices and
ideas actually improve the accessibility of a web site without taking
accessibility into account.  I may be doing a bit of re-stating here, but we
must understand that usability has been around a lot longer than
"accessibility".  I do think that there are two separate issues here but
they have to do with how the accessibility of the site is approached.  A lot
of what is termed as usability can be quite difficult in terms of
accessibility so applying the guidelines practically first and not breaking
them when designing for usability is the solution.  Usability is also much
more fluid and hard to pin down than accessibility in the true sense at
least at the current level.  Accessibility allows certain behaviours that
are predictable and verifyable through means that are validatable at least
by humans.  Usability must be proven by a statistical analysis of "did I get
it right?"  I am not sayng that there not some well known strategies that
lend themselves to providing more usable content than others but that
engineering an accessibile site for usability is less known Despite what nn

----- Original Message -----
From: "Isofarro" <w3evangelism@faqportal.uklinux.net>
To: "Graham Oliver" <goliver@accease.com>; <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Sent: Wednesday, April 02, 2003 4:32 AM
Subject: Re: The two models of accessibility

From: "Graham Oliver" <goliver@accease.com>
Subject: The two models of accessibility

> http://www.accease.com/tips/0304.html

I'll have to admit I am a bit concerned about this article. Its good that
you've drawn a distinction between a technical conformance to accessibility,
and a comprehensive conformance to accessibility, and pointed out that
technical conformance does not mean a site is accessible.

This particular comment raised a few hairs: "In other words 'Full
Accessibility' combines 'Technical Accessibility' with usability." -- I see
the point you are trying to make, and fully agree. But I'm not sure the word
"usability" is the right in this particular context.

Technical accessibility is only the accessibility guidelines that can be
checked by an automated script. What's left is not usability, but human
appreciative guidelines.

An automated checker can notice whether there are scope attributes on table
cells, but will not know if they are right. I'm not convinced that
associating relationships between table cells is a usability improvement. To
me it is an accessibility improvement, and usability is something else.

IMO, and I'm probably off-base, implementing usability could involve using
Javascript to "guide" to visitor, whereas accessibility makes sure that the
core functionality is available irrespective of whether Javascript is there
or not.

In short, Usability _enhances_ a website from an initially accessible state,
whereas accessibility ensures that the website is first and foremost build
with a foundation that ensures a website will work. Full accessibility is a
key requirement for usability, but usability is not a key requirement of

Full accessibility is achieved by meeting the checkpoints (both technical
and non-technical) of WCAG. Usability suggests that there should be a search
box in the top right corner of a website - since that's where the visitor
expects to find it - however this is not an accessibility issue, and not
required for full accessibility.

Received on Wednesday, 2 April 2003 06:42:40 UTC

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