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RE: the official definition [of web accessibility] from the W3C is wrong

From: Roger Hudson <rhudson@usability.com.au>
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2015 11:09:32 +1100
To: "'John Foliot'" <john@foliot.ca>, <howard_leicester@btconnect.com>, "'Kate Perkins'" <kperkins@hugeinc.com>, "'Steve Faulkner'" <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>
Cc: "'WAI Interest Group'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <004401d04721$5a71e190$0f55a4b0$@com.au>
Thanks John,


I agree with your clear outline of the situation today, and would just like
to add that in my opinion another great feature of the A11y community is the
willingness of many participants to freely share information, advice and the
findings of their research. 


I personally don't have a great problem with the definition - sure it could
be a more inclusive and precise, but then we might just end up with another
tortured long sentence that will have to be deconstructed and explained over
and over again.




From: John Foliot [mailto:john@foliot.ca] 
Sent: Friday, 13 February 2015 10:41 AM
To: howard_leicester@btconnect.com; 'Kate Perkins'; 'Steve Faulkner'
Cc: 'WAI Interest Group'
Subject: RE: the official definition [of web accessibility] from the W3C is


Hi Howard,


I am saddened that you feel there has been no progress within the
"accessibility movement" - while we still have a ways to go, I've been doing
this long enough to say we've come a long way already. It's all about the
vantage point.


I'd like to also take this opportunity to correct some apparent
misconceptions you may be holding:


   "WAI are in transition (with WCAG2.0)" 


WCAG 2.0 has been a stable and finalized W3C Recommendation since 2008. It
is true that there is a W3C Working Group that is working towards adding
new(er) Techniques for Success to the WCAG documentation set, however the
WCAG Recommendation is not in transition. This doesn't mean however that the
W3C/WAI is sitting on its hands either: there are multiple groups working on
emergent technology such as the efforts around ARIA (1.1 & 2.0), the
Accessibility API mappings, accessible  <canvas> and SVG, collaborative work
on ePub, continued activities with the HTML5 Working Group (via the
HTML/a11y Task Force), the current Cognitive Disabilities Task Force, and
much, much more.


   "International Association for Accessibility Professionals has arisen as
a rival (or supporter?)."


Neither. From my personal perspective, I am unclear exactly what, if
anything, the IAAP is doing these days, outside of sending out a
semi-regular newsletter that is mostly just an accessibility clipping
service (referencing articles many of us have already seen and discovered
via Social Media) and hosting "for-pay" webinars (with a discounted
admission fee for members: $39.00/members, $79.00/non-members).  


Given that membership for the first year was free, and that to remain a
member you will need to re-register later this March, it will be interesting
to see how many individuals will actually put their hands in their pockets
and pony up the $185 annually to remain a member after March 16th.
Personally, I am hard pressed to see the value, but that is just me. (I am
also hearing through my extensive grape-vine however that some of the
original corporate founders/sponsors are re-thinking their continued
involvement. I can't and won't name names, but I will say that I've heard
this line of discussion more than once.)


With regard to standards, legislation or enforcement of accessibility
requirements, I do not believe that the IAAP has ever intended to enter into
those realms, so I am unsure where you were going with that comment.


  "No wonder no one realy know's what's going on, yet alone the definition
of 'accessibility'."


While it is true that keeping abreast of all of the activities and
progresses (and failures) that many of us encounter each day, coupled with
the progress happening in the world of technologies and standards can be
time-consuming, I am hard pressed to say "no-one really knows what is going
on". Many do, and as this thread and others on this list attest, if you have
a question, ask, you will generally get some form of response. (And I don't
think that WAI will mind that I also mention our friends over at WebAIM -
their mailing list is also active, and often authors will copy both this
list and that one when they seek the broadest coverage)


Related to this particular thread, I think there is mostly confusion over
the different way(s) we all see our efforts, along with the "whys". 


After over 15 years working in this space, one statement I am absolutely
comfortable in making is that many if not most of us are doing what we do
for reasons that are, shall I say, altruistic. I've joked with colleagues in
the past that one thing that sets our community apart is how many will
provide guidance, assistance and help to web developers and designers, often
with no financial compensation: we don't do this to get rich (ha!), but
because of how important it is to us on other, dare I say, spiritual/moral


Contrast that against what the legal profession requires as a "definition"
of disability and access (accessibility) and it becomes easy to see where
the different perspectives can arrive at different conclusions. It's sad
sometimes when it seems that the "legal perspective" reduces human dignity
down to a quantified and measurable "test", but from their perspective,
without a means of measurement, they cannot enforce adherence to any
requirement, so it is a necessary evil.


I don't think that the definition of accessibility at the W3C is "wrong" (it
works for the lawyers) but as an active proponent and supporter of what it
is that we do, I can see where for many of us it is, ermm, in-complete, as
it doesn't do a very good job of encapsulating the ideals of dignity and
respect that motivates many of us. As Kate's note indicated, for her
environment, for her "audience", she re-crafted a definition to fit her work
environment (bravo Kate!) - her goal (as I read her note) was to take the
conversation to one that inspired her colleagues, rather than a discussion
leaving them feeling like this was yet another "waste of time". Kate took
the time to encapsulate the spirit of what we are seeking to achieve, and
speak to that in a language that resonated in her shop.


As web accessibility professionals, I am of the opinion that this is
*exactly* one of the things we need to do and/or continue to do. Be less
concerned over a text-book definition, and focus the energies instead on
spreading a good message (using whatever language works best for your local
sphere of influence). That I believe is way more important that struggling
over legalese.




John Foliot
Web Accessibility Specialist
W3C Invited Expert - Accessibility 

Co-Founder, Open Web Camp





From: Howard Leicester [mailto:howard_leicester@btconnect.com] 
Sent: Thursday, February 12, 2015 11:27 AM
To: 'Kate Perkins'; 'Steve Faulkner'
Cc: 'WAI Interest Group'
Subject: RE: the official definition [of web accessibility] from the W3C is


Thanks Kate,

We seem to have come back to Steve's original point.

Though I note the link is not to a W3C source.

(Apologies if I've muffed it).


I firmly believe we have to focus on W3C/WAI, but none of that is simple


In fact, I believe the "accessibility movement" couldn't organise a "*" om a
"*" at the moment.


WAI are in transition (with WCAG2.0) 

And the

International Association for Accessibility Professionals

Has arisen as a rival (or supporter?).


No wonder no one realy know's what's going on, yet alone the definition of


VVV best,






From: Kate Perkins [mailto:kperkins@hugeinc.com] 
Sent: 12 February 2015 18:50
To: Steve Faulkner
Cc: WAI Interest Group
Subject: Re: the official definition [of web accessibility] from the W3C is


Hi Steve, I have read your comment and all of the follow up comments, and I
think that this it is vital to continue this conversation.

I am an unofficial accessibility advocate at a Huge, a digital agency.  I've
spent the past year talking to different people and departments in my
company about accessibility practices to make it a part of our baseline
offering for web development, not an "extra."  One of the results of this
process was that we decided to "re-brand" accessibility within our agency,
as that word carries some weight and preconceived notions.  For project
managers, it sounds expensive and like it might dip into the bottom line.
For Developers, it sounds like difficult and thankless work that will keep
you working late night.  For business owners, it sounds like a distraction
from more important business goals like SEO optimization and building the
next big feature.

The key takeaway here is that was wasn't an "us" against "them"
conversation.  The main thing people think about it "how does this affect

So I presented a "re-branding accessibility" presentation that was well
received, and drove home a new definition of accessibility.  Our definition:
"Disability is the deficit between user and system capability.  Is it the
responsibility of the system, not the user, to bridge that deficit."  Huge
is known for it's user experience work, so this hit home for everyone.  This
may not always be the right definition; it may depend on the audience.  But
for us, this reset the conversation about accessibility and removed existing
negative assumptions from the conversation.

Food for thought.  Because of this experience, I have to disagree with Phil.
For a conversation about accessibility to affect change, you have to
position it as a tool to achieve the goals that your audience already has.

- Kate Perkins Horowitz

Kate Perkins Horowitz / Business Analyst
T. 718 880 3805
www.hugeinc.com / www.twitter.com/hugeinc


On Fri, Feb 6, 2015 at 3:17 AM, Steve Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>

discussion starter:

"We need to change the way we talk about accessibility. Most people are
taught that "web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use
the Web"- the official definition from the W3C. This is wrong. Web
accessibility means that people can use the web."

source: Reframing Accessibility for the Web






Received on Friday, 13 February 2015 00:10:25 UTC

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