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Involving Users and Role of Guidelines [was Re: WCAG 1.0 or 2.0?]

From: Shawn Henry <shawn@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2006 13:11:06 -0500
Message-ID: <45366E3A.2020507@w3.org>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

Excerpts from messages in the thread:
> consider the diverse nature of the needs of people with disabilities...
> little worried on this emphasis on compliance to WCAG without any reference to the user...
> PAS 78 here in the UK makes reference to the Guidelines (as currently published)
but also makes the case for user testing.

I agree that the ultimate goal is meeting the needs of users. WCAG is a tool that was specifically developed in order to help meet the diverse needs of people with disabilities.

Note that W3C WAI also supports involving users in evaluation. The WAI document "Involving Users in Web Accessibility Evaluation" is available at:
It is part of an evaluation resource suite, and thus it focuses on evaluation; however, WAI encourages involvement of people with disabilities early and throughout the development process.

For more on the issue of guidelines and involving users, see "Understanding Web Accessibility" (which, for the record, is not a WAI publication) at:
It says things like:
- "There are guidelines that should be at the center of your accessibility efforts—just not the only focus."
- "Before jumping into guidelines, before studying evaluation tool results, first understand the issues. Learn the basics of how people with disabilities use the Web."
- "I've talked a lot about including people with disabilities in your web development project. While there are many benefits, that alone will not lead you to develop an accessible site, because even large projects cannot include the diversity of disabilities, adaptive strategies, and assistive technologies that would be necessary to sufficiently cover all the issues."
- "While I suggest starting with users rather than guidelines, I also suggest that WCAG be central in web development projects. In most cases, the WCAG documents will be the primary reference for accessibility information."
- "WCAG should be the guiding force in accessibility efforts, yet be careful to keep it in perspective. The goal of accessibility is not to check off a guidelines list; the goal is to make your site accessible. Using WCAG helps ensure that all issues are addressed, and involving people with disabilities helps address them efficiently and effectively."

~ Shawn

Shawn Lawton Henry
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
e-mail: shawn@w3.org
phone: +1.617.395.7664
about: http://www.w3.org/People/Shawn/
Received on Wednesday, 18 October 2006 18:11:15 UTC

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