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Re: W4A Call for Papers

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@sidar.org>
Date: Mon, 20 Dec 2004 07:30:21 -0600 (CST)
Message-ID: <52712.>
To: "Yeliz Yesilada" <yesilady@cs.man.ac.uk>
Cc: "David Woolley" <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

Like David, I am not in a position to attend the conference (unless
someone wants to offer to pay my expenses :-) But I think that there are
two parts to the problem (and that David is overly pessimistic about what
people are prepared to do, to the same extent that "we the accessibility
advocates" are often optimistic about what we think people can do).

The first has been that people are unclear that there is a need for
accessibility. This is being addressed by work such as the W3C's Web
Accessibility Initiative, quite effectively.

The second, and more difficult, is that where developers and technologists
are aware of the need, they are unaware of the details of how to implement
it - the range of disabilities that people have, the range of solutions
required, the value of designing it in at the start, and demonstrations of
how that actually makes things more effective. In part I presume this
workshop will look at real technical solutions, and at the difference
between designing from the start and building them in later.

But it is also true that the work costs money or time, in teaching
developers about accessibility, in testing solutions, in thinking about
creative solutions to difficult problems (this is especially so in rich
media, which cannot go away if we are to offer accessibility to all people
with disabilities, and not just a couple of highly literate groups). Like
the Y2K bug, this is not something that industry cannot do, andd do
reasonably well and reasonably easily, it is simply something that needs
to be accepted as worthwhile. (My favourite Y2K presentation was from a
programmer who said that there was never a problem, even in the 60's,
making things Y2K-proof. They just never believed that people would still
be using rubbish programs slapped together in the 60's after 30 years when
the issue would become a problem).

Addressing this last question seems largely a social queston, although it
is helped by having as many "fully worked example cases" as possible. That
is, instead of vague assertions about the fact that "building in
accessibility from the start is relatively easy after the first time"
(which I believe is true, because I have done it), case studies which have
times, costs, successes, failures and lessons learned all clearly and
carefully noted and analysed. No two cases are the same, but having an
idea of exactly how much is involved  in several similar cases makes a
business decision maker's job easier. Having an unidentifiable amount of
investment required to meet some set of requirements means that any
responsible business manager needs to do a real risk assessment on whether
the budget is more likely to be blown out by the accessibility work or the
cost of defending the fact that it wasn't done earlier.

Will the workshop be webcast on the #accessibility channel of freenode's
IRC server, or something similar, for those of us who cannot afford to
participate in person?



Charles McCathieNevile           charles@sidar.org

<quote who="Yeliz Yesilada">
> Hi David,
> This may or may not be the case. However, we are interested in the
> engineering aspects of including accessibility support at the early
> stages of the design, not only within Web pages, but also client side
> technologies such as browsers and rich media technologies such as Flash
> and SVG (as we believe Rich media such as Flash will not go away). We
> are concerned that, as the Web becomes more pervasive, accessibility
> support will not be encoded from the early stages; hence this workshop.
> Hopefully, we'll get lots of interesting opinions like yours, and we'd
> welcome your participation.
> Yours,
> Yeliz and Simon
> (http://w4a.man.ac.uk)
> David Woolley wrote:
>>>Previous engineering approaches seem to have precluded the engineering
>>>of accessible systems. This is plainly unsatisfactory. Designers,
>>I'm not in the conference circuit so I can't directly contribute to the
>>conference, but to me it seems that this is not an engineering problem
>>but a commercial/marketing one.  It's about time to market, and
>>looking "sexy".  It's about what is perceived by non-technical management
>>as the absolute minimum that will produce a healthy cash flow, in the
>>relatively short term.
Received on Monday, 20 December 2004 13:31:34 UTC

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