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

From: Gregg Vanderheiden <gv@trace.wisc.edu>
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2015 09:15:18 -0600
Cc: Steve Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>, Kate Perkins <kperkins@hugeinc.com>, IG - WAI Interest Group List list <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-Id: <571E1C53-126A-443B-BF5C-688CDC243320@trace.wisc.edu>
To: Michael Gower <michael.gower@ca.ibm.com>
I like the use of “functional limitations”  (both situational and other) as a way to describe our individual limitations. 

But equating functional limitations with disabilities  puts the “disability" back on the person — rather than on the interaction between the person’s limitations and the design of the environment.     Now, for legal reasons, we need to keep the “disability” to be something a person has  (e.g. we allow people with disabilities to have certain protections or entitlements — and some discrimination laws cite them as a particular group with standing)  - but for design I think it is useful to think of disability as something that a person experiences rather than has. 

So we can’t get rid of ‘disability” as something a person has - for legal discussions —   but for design I think the “experience” approach is better


gregg
--------------------------------------------------------
Gregg Vanderheiden Ph.D.
Director Trace R&D Center
Professor Industrial & Systems Engineering
and Biomedical Engineering University of Wisconsin-Madison
Co-Director, Raising the Floor - International - http://Raisingthefloor.org <http://raisingthefloor.org/>
and the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure Project -  http://GPII.net <http://gpii.net/>
> On Feb 16, 2015, at 8:32 AM, Michael Gower <michael.gower@ca.ibm.com> wrote:
> 
> I like the term "functional limitations". I used "functional disabilities" in a paper to describe what has now become "situational disabilities". Combine them, and you arrive at a nice general conceptual description: 
> In any given situation some or all of us will experience functional limitations. Accessibility is concerned with enabling each of us to overcome those limitations or disabilities. 
> 
> Michael Gower
> Senior Consultant 
> IBM Accessibility 
> 
> 1803 Douglas Street, Victoria, BC  V8T 5C3
> gowerm@ca.ibm.com
> voice: (250) 220-1146 * cel: (250) 661-0098 *  fax: (250) 220-8034 
> 
> 
> 
> From:        Gregg Vanderheiden <gv@trace.wisc.edu> 
> To:        Kate Perkins <kperkins@hugeinc.com> 
> Cc:        Steve Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>, IG - WAI Interest Group List list <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org> 
> Date:        02/12/2015 01:31 PM 
> Subject:        Re: the official definition [of web accessibility] from the W3C is wrong 
> Sent by:        Gregg Vanderheiden RTF <gregg@raisingthefloor.org> 
> 
> 
> 
> that is exactly the definition of disability that we use and teach. 
> 
> 
> A disability isn’t something a person has — it is something they experience when they cannot use the world  (or use it effectively) the way it is designed. 
> 
> In my class i ask them to imagine that they are not any different than the are today — but that everyone else had wings.    Suddenly  they would find that the world was designed differently.   Houses wouldn’t have stairs.  just ‘landings’  where people landed when they  flew up to the next floor.   And we would all be ‘disabled’ in every house we entered.    We would be no less able than we are today — but we would experience a disability in all houses without stairs ( or ladders)  - and even with ladders we could carry nothing up- (hmmmm    i guess nobody would call it “upstairs” anymore so i would say….)     we could carry nothing up-floor. 
> 
> Great way to put it. 
> 
> This also makes it a continuum with all the people who do not have classic disabilities but still cannot use the interfaces effectively with the abilities they have. 
> 
> Accessibility then becomes “extending the usability to include more people  — something usability people are always doing. 
> 
> In this case - it is extending it to include people experiencing disabilities due to functional limitations. 
> 
> 
> Ciao 
> 
> gregg 
> -------------------------------------------------------- 
> Gregg Vanderheiden Ph.D.
> Director Trace R&D Center
> Professor Industrial & Systems Engineering
> and Biomedical Engineering University of Wisconsin-Madison 
> Co-Director, Raising the Floor - International - http://Raisingthefloor.org <http://raisingthefloor.org/>
> and the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure Project -  http://GPII.net <http://gpii.net/> 
> 
> On Feb 12, 2015, at 7:50 PM, Kate Perkins <kperkins@hugeinc.com <mailto:kperkins@hugeinc.com>> wrote: 
> 
> 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 me?" 
> 
> 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 
> 
> …
> HUGE
> Kate Perkins Horowitz / Business Analyst
> T. 718 880 3805
> www.hugeinc.com <http://www.hugeinc.com/> / www.twitter.com/hugeinc <http://www.twitter.com/hugeinc> 
> 
> On Fri, Feb 6, 2015 at 3:17 AM, Steve Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com <mailto:faulkner.steve@gmail.com>> wrote: 
> 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
> http://alistapart.com/article/reframing-accessibility-for-the-web <http://alistapart.com/article/reframing-accessibility-for-the-web> 
> 
> --
> 
> Regards
> 
> SteveF 
> 
> 
> 
Received on Monday, 16 February 2015 15:15:49 UTC

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