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RE: Screen Magnification

From: Jonathan Avila <jon.avila@ssbbartgroup.com>
Date: Thu, 23 Apr 2015 14:09:19 +0000
To: Wayne Dick <waynedick@knowbility.org>, WAI Interest Group <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <BY2PR03MB272E02302B8CE62FE9E7EB49BED0@BY2PR03MB272.namprd03.prod.outlook.com>
Wayne, while I agree that screen magnification software is not an optimal accessibility tool for many, I believe the point of the referenced section is to describe assistive technologies that use accessibility APIs.  Clearly there are other accessibility features of user agents and good web design techniques that support better text resize etc. but these techniques generally do not use or rely on the accessibility API and the mappings discussed in the document.

There certainly are implications for users with low vision and user agents and ARIA techniques that need to be documented, however, some of these would likely be best addressed in the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines as the browser is likely rendering the content directly consumed by the user.  For example, use of aria-label is not expanded on images like alt is, etc.

Best Regards,


From: Wayne Dick [mailto:waynedick@knowbility.org]
Sent: Wednesday, April 22, 2015 5:12 PM
To: WAI Interest Group
Subject: Screen Magnification

For some reason not based on usage, the WAI has zeroed in on screen magnification as some kind of primary assistive technology for people with partial sight.  This is promoted in the Accessibility API Mappings 1.1 when screen magnification is listed as the first type of assistive technology.  This gives a class of technology with niche uses at most a  prominence it does not deserve.
Screen magnification is an extremely poor example of technology to use in the context of web technology.  This is because screen magnification ignores the DOM structure and the entire accessibility API.  Some screen magnifiers make feeble attempts at including this technology but their efforts are clumsy at best.
Please WAI, stop with trying to promote screen magnification as anything other that a spot solution that works in limited cases for a small minority of people with visual impairments. HTML, CSS, the DOM and all accessibility APIs could be dropped and screen magnification would suffer limited inconvenience. It has no place in the Accessibility API Mappings 1.1.
That may sound harsh, but I cannot think of a kinder way to put it.  I am grateful for the developers of this technology but its importance is just not as significant as the WAI seems to believe.  Shawn's surveys shows this.  Comparing the purchases of screen magnifiers to the population of people with partial sight also demonstrates this.  Most people with low vision do not avoid screen magnification technology because they are Luddites, as normal people frequently accuse us of being. We use it in limited ways because its use has limited value. I hope the WAI internalizes this message and stops presenting screen magnification as a viable solution for more than a small subset of people with low vision.


Received on Thursday, 23 April 2015 14:10:01 UTC

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