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RE: Undoubtedly, an oversimplification ...

From: John Foliot <john@foliot.ca>
Date: Mon, 5 May 2014 15:34:45 -0700
To: "'Felix Miata'" <mrmazda@earthlink.net>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <010901cf68b2$37d09e40$a771dac0$@ca>
Felix Miata wrote:
> On 2014-05-05 10:02 (GMT-0700) John Foliot composed:
> > David, when you make sweeping statements like that, please be sure to
> > back it up with some concrete evidence: can you point us to a poll or
> > other reference that shows that most people over the age of 50 are
> > dissatisfied with their web experience?
> When you do, make sure it takes into account people who do not use
> computers at all

Huh?? If we are to derive any really useful information from any poll or
survey, it needs to be focused on the right question. Asking somebody who
doesn't (or won't) use a computer (for any reason) what their web experience
is like is akin to asking a vegan what is their favorite cut of meat. Really
Felix, be serious please.

> for such reasons as:
> 1-the difficulties imposed by tiny everything that blocks or impedes
> automatic account of any personalization of the environment that is
> supposed to make things big enough

What? Most operating systems today have system-based "screen enlargement"
capabilities of some form or other. Additionally, there are 3rd-party
software tools that further enhance or replace these abilities for general
computer usage. Do not mix the inability (or lack of desire) to use a
general purpose computer with the "failure of websites" - compare apples to
apples please.

> 2-the effects of aging on eyesight
> 3-eyesight that wasn't all that great even before aging started taking
> a toll.

It is unclear on how these progressive disabilities are a reflection of what
constitutes a "poor" web experience. Is their web experience going to be any
different than their book experience? their driving experience? their
walking down the street experience? (If anything, there is a reasonable
chance that some of their web experience will actually be better thanks to
technology and the increased awareness of web accessibiltity, driven by
increased awareness overall, and legally mandated requirements in various
regions of the world)

Look, I get it, it sucks to have low vision / no vision; I have worked with
people with these conditions for a decade and a half now, directly and
indirectly, and I understand. My wife is now "legally blind", although she
retains some low vision, so this isn't just an academic discussion for me -
I understand at a very deep level what it is like to not be able to see
everything everyone else does. Further, because she understands what it is I
do professionally, I get an earful from time-to-time about lousy web sites -
there are still plenty of those out there. So I will admit we still have a
lot of work to do.

But the discussion at hand is about accessibility expectations, and of the
web platform today. Let's honestly look at some of the reasons why "the
modern web" is actually improving access for PWD:

Images & MultiMedia: Clear and effective images will often aid users with
cognitive disabilites by making complex data more readably understandable.
Are "infographics" a problem for non-sighted users? Sure they are. Does that
make them "evil", or a site that uses them "inaccessible"? Hardly - we need
to educate the site owners and developers on how to ensure that an
equivelant experience is crafted for all: that the complex data that created
that infographic in the first place should also be available to those users
who need it. Ditto for 'multimedia' - yes, without captions and transcripts
a web-video has limited value to the non-sighted and the deaf/HoH user
communities, but the value of "showing" how to accomplish a task via an
on-demand video can be a huge boost for some users who cannot read (either
because of a neurological issue, or simply because of illiteracy). Videos on
the web aren't "evil", they just need to be done correctly.

JavaScript and AJAX: Client-side scripting and modern technologies like Ajax
have allowed businesses to take their commerce to the web, governments to
make their services more available 24 hours a day (as opposed to sitting on
hold for 4 hours trying to resolve an issue, waiting for a real-time agent),
and bringing entertainment to those who need and want it "on-demand". How
can this be "bad" for people with mobility issues, including "aged" shut-ins
who cannot travel far for a variety of age-related problems?

"Modern" technologies and techniques such as ARIA, CSS, Responsive design,
Graceful degradation, HTML5 and lots more have made the world more
accessible (from the big-picture view) to more PWD in the past 20 years than
any other technolgy of the 20th or 21st centuries.  Are there problems still
today? Sure, and one of the biggest problems is lack of awareness and
understanding. But those aren't technolgy problems, they are education

For too long, a small but relatively vocal minority of users (often
non-sighted users) continually surface this notion that the only accessible
web is a text-only web that doesn't require JavaScript (or some variant of
that tripe), and it has got to stop. It is hurting our efforts significantly
more than it is helping.

No company or mainstream web developer today can accept that position -
period. It flies in the face of the reality on the street.

And when they hear that kind of messaging coming from "experts" who discuss
accessibility at forums such as this one, they conclude that a) It isn't
worth the effort, so lets just not bother, b) "even the experts [sic] can't
agree" (I can't tell you how many times I've heard that one), c) those
"accessiblity" folks are totally unreasonable, so just ignor them... or some
variant of all of the above.

Felix, if people with no or low vision (due to aging or another reason) - or
any other "accessibility issue" for that matter - refuse to use computers,
or sit back and "expect" that the 100% totally accessible solution will be
handed to them on a plate... well, those people have issues much larger than
an "inaccessible web". There is no doubt that there remains work to be done:
new technologies to evolve and emerge to address access issues for all
users, as well as the need for increased awareness and educational efforts
that drive developers and site owners to understand the issues, and the
variety of user-experiences that constitutes a full experience for all
users, and much, much more.

But to get there, we need to have (and continue to have) a reaonable dialog
and discussion about the things that *really* matter, and stop wasting our
energies lamenting a world that simply cannot be. We need to work with what
we have today, not sit back and complain because it isn't exactly what we
want, or that it is different than the way it was 15 years ago.

Failing to accept that truism isn't a technology problem, it's an education

Received on Monday, 5 May 2014 22:35:10 UTC

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