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RE: Canvas and ARIA alternatives

From: Ian Sharpe <isforums@manx.net>
Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2012 00:35:36 +0100
To: "'Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis'" <bhawkeslewis@googlemail.com>
Cc: "'Ramón Corominas'" <listas@ramoncorominas.com>, "'WAI Interest Group'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <8F2C558E5D8E42F18EC08BF97D6C177C@BLACKBOX>
Firstly, although this is slightly digressing from my argument, I would be
very interested to know of a use case for data input which requires the use
of canvas and which cannot be achieved using a more accessible alternative
approach. This discussion is a little abstract and I feel a concrete example
may be helpful.

Secondly, I'm certainly not advocating that we just sit on our hands and
tell people to use existing features which they say do not meet their needs
and again, I find this kind of over-simplification unhelpful in terms of the

Thirdly, and this comes back to my point, if the foundations of the web are
based on openness and inclusion then surely these are the principles upon
which all decisions should be made over and above anything else. I do
appreciate that in reality, this goal maybe more of a hope than ever
realised, but I feel it needs to happen if we are ever going to see an open
and inclusive web.

There will always be times when existing technology does not meet the
requirements of certain organisations to perform particular tasks in the way
they would like. That's fine. It's part of the natural evolution of
technology. But rather than trying to work out how to shoe-horn in
accessibility as an after-thought, surely it would be better to work with
these organisations to determine the most effective solutions in order to
incorporate them in an accessible way where appropriate. Just build
accessibility in from the start. It's part of the guidelines and our
recommendations after all. Indeed, surely  this is part of the W3C process?
Maybe the work which you mention that is on-going is part of this process.  

I know that it's not always possible to predict how a technology might be
used but if it is going to lead to significant problems in terms of
accessibility, I feel a better approach would be to work on "improving"
existing accessible technology to provide the desired functionality while
encouraging the adoption of accessible alternatives in the interim.

Finally, I would be interested to know whether anyone believes that if for
example, the guidelines did prohibit the use of canvas for user input, it
would have no impact on the adoption of such an approach (which is what I
think you are saying in a albeit different way)? I'm sure some organisations
or individuals would "do it anyway" as many do now despite current
legislation in many parts of the world. But I personally am seeing more of a
trend towards working within the guidelines, particularly in government and
larger organisations. And while we still have a long way to go, I am perhaps
a little more optimistic (hopeful?) and don't feel it would lead to the
beginning of the end of accessibility. Indeed, I feel we perhaps need to at
least think about pushing back a little, particularly in situations such as
this, in order to continue to make a difference. But maybe we're not far
enough a long the curve yet?




-----Original Message-----
From: Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis [mailto:bhawkeslewis@googlemail.com] 
Sent: 02 August 2012 19:16
To: Ian Sharpe
Cc: Ramón Corominas; WAI Interest Group
Subject: Re: Canvas and ARIA alternatives

On Thu, Aug 2, 2012 at 2:11 PM, Ian Sharpe <isforums@manx.net> wrote:
> In particular, I am questioning the use of our limited time and 
> resources trying to work around issues arising from the use (abuse?) 
> of what is essentially a graphical element for user input when 
> perfectly flexible accessible alternatives exist.

The alternatives aren't sufficiently flexible for what people want to do. So
we have to work on either making those existing features (e.g.
contenteditable) more flexible, or we have to work on bolt-on accessibility
for canvas (e.g. hit regions), or we have to work on new features that are
flexible *and* have built-in accessibility (e.g. web components). In
practice, we are doing all three. We can't *just* sit on our hands and tell
people to use the existing features that don't address what they want to do
- because at web scale they will be used anyway.

Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis
Received on Thursday, 2 August 2012 23:36:10 UTC

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