RE: Respect - was Re: The two models of accessibility

Hi, Kathy

When I referenced paraplegics going up stairs, I think I meant to be
more general than just at the person's home.  (The example came to mind
because of some discussions I had in rehab when I became a

When I see some of the usability problems that blind people put up with
web pages, I have to ask why.  It can be argued that some blind people
might beed to learn their equipment better.  On the other hand, the
problem might be less about knowing the equipment and more about
expecting to do more than is technologically possible.  For example, it
is not reasonable to expect screen readers to reorder a web page based
on semantic rather than syntactic aspects.

For example, Jakob Nielssen did some usability research a couple of
years ago on disabled people using web pages.  Here are some of the
results of this research.

Screen Reader Users		Control Group (no disabilities)

Success Rate		       12.5%			78.2%

Time on Task (min:sec)		      16:46			7:14

Errors				2.0			 0.6

Subjective Rating (1-7 scale)		        2.5			 4.6

(More information about this research is at: )

According to this information, people using screen readers were more
than six times less likely to perform successfully various tasks with
web pages than sighted web page users, take more than twice as long to
do the tasks, make more than 3 times as many errors and have almost half
the saisfaction using the web pages.  I'm not sure how much is that
difference is attributable to not understanding screen reader technology
and how much is attributable to web pages not being tested for the
usability needs of visually impaired people.

Your comments about your blind professor reminded me of some recent
comments on the uvip (usability for visually impaired people) mailing
list.  Not all blind people want to be super-heros.  Many are just
average people with average skills and motivation.  Some also have
learning disabilities in addition to their blindness.  I think a better
user model for designing technology would be that of a more average
blind person.

Your point about research and the guidelines is quite interesting.  It
is a question that various people in the usability world have asked.
Unfortunately, it is indicative of the lack of communication between the
usability world and the disability world.  I believe that each world
could benefit from communicating with the other.  The challenge is that
each would have to move past thinking that they have the answers and
information they need.

An interesting question to ask is what impact did Jakob Nielsen's research
on web page usability have on development of guidelines.  One comment
I've heard is that there has been too much work to do.  While in the
earlier years of WAI that might have been true, after seven years
one would think that at least some research would have been done to measure
the effectiveness of the guidelines and make appropriate changes.


> I find that I have to put in a word here. I am a Physical Therapist.
> First I think you need to hear how we make stairs accessible to
> paraplegics, or Parkinson's, or hip fractures or the blind or sensory
> involved after a stroke or unable to see or hear. I worry when I hear
> some of you discuss this without really knowing what physical
> accessibility is for the disabled. 
> We can not eliminate the stairs if that is their home. However, they can
> be made accessible. They are usable by able bodied but not the disabled
> until 2 things occur:
> 1. The environment is changed in a way that allows them to use another
> device to get up and down the stairs. It can be a motorized chair seat,
> a cane, a crutch, another handrail in place to ease the use of the
> stairs. That is the first part. I have changed the environment with
> adaptations. It is not disrespectful to ask someone who is disabled to
> go upstairs. In fact, I know many that would be upset that they were not
> considered the same as anyone else. You can not make the disabled
> different. You need to realize that they function in this world like
> anyone else- just with adaptations. Of course, mental attitude and
> motivation are important. Some people like being dependant and sick.
> 2. We(as a PT) have to teach them how to use these adaptations. I am not
> sure everyone realizes that there are 2 sides to making something
> accessible. There is a responsibility on the disabled individual's part.
> I can not force my patient to do what I feel is safest and in his best
> interest on the stairs- but I can teach him what should be happening. If
> they want to do it the way I recommend then they will. Motivation is
> vital on their part.
> Thus, as web designers or developers there is a difference between what
> is usable and accessible for the disabled. No matter how wonderful those
> stairs are for everyone one else, they are usable to all but that
> disabled individual. They become accessible once the adaptations and
> training have been completed. It is not easy for the disabled and we can
> not eliminate that from their lives. That is their burden to bear. I
> wish that were not so but they have to live with it. We can help, but we
> can not make them change to adapt if they do not want to.
> BUT, on the other hand,  we must keep in mind that the disabled need to
> accept some responsibility for learning these adaptations that we put in
> place for them.
>  I work with a blind professor of math at a community college. She is
> coordinator of the computer science program and teaches a full course
> load. She uses JAWS and is so smart and capable with her adaptations in
> place. 
> I have told her some of the comments I hear from different discussions
> and she laughs. She has also stated the same thing- it is also the
> responsibility of the disabled person to learn how to use the equipment
> the proper way. She wants to not even be considered blind and does
> everything the able bodied do with adaptations she has developed.
> Thus usable and accessible are related but not the same. However, we
> need to ensure that training is occurring in the skills that the
> disabled need to use their adaptive equipment.
> I have continued to do some research about what research was done to
> confirm the W3G guidelines and have not found anything accept anecdotal
> evidence that this is what they "believe" is the right way to develop a
> web site for the disabled. 
> According to Akoumianakis and Stephanidis, They reported in a 1999
> research study that the "Accessibility guidelines are not experimentally
> validated". Which is one of my concerns too.
> I posed this as a question before and got only one response on current
> research. I know some groups are doing research using the guidelines but
> what research has been done to ensure that these guidelines are valid
> and reliable? That they really do what they say they do?
> I want to do research on this for my dissertation. My expertise with the
> disabled is my strength. I have seen it all. I have worked with all
> diseases and disabilities for 28 years.
> This is my 2 cents on this topic that I have been reading about for
> several days now on this list. 
> Kathy  Cercone PT

Received on Monday, 7 April 2003 02:44:48 UTC