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Re: FW: User Agent Guidelines

From: Jon Gunderson <jongund@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu>
Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2000 09:50:35 -0600
Message-Id: <4.1.20000114094241.00afbcb0@staff.uiuc.edu>
To: "Denis Anson" <danson@miseri.edu>, "WAI UA Group" <w3c-wai-ua@w3.org>
Thanks for contacting Alan.  I think his reponse is a very good arguement
for configuration, but I am not sure it helps us in providing more specific
information to developers on what types of graphical controls are more
important to allow configuration and what type of configuration helps.  

Could you contact him again and ask him the following questions:

1. What types of graphical controls are more important than other for
2. What types of configuration helps?
3. Would he be willing to allow working group memebers to try his demo
4. Could we reference his demo application in the techniques document (if


At 08:38 AM 1/14/00 -0500, Denis Anson wrote:
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Alan Cantor [mailto:acantor@interlog.com]
>Sent: Thursday, January 13, 2000 4:13 PM
>To: Denis Anson
>Subject: RE: User Agent Guidelines
>We are going over the open issues for the user agent guidelines, and
>come to your request that graphical arrangement of controls be raised
>priority 2.
>We would like some more information as to which kinds of controls you
>particularly would want to have configurable.  Do you think that this
>apply to toolbars, toolbar items, menus and menu items, or all?  Are
>some factors that are more important than others?  There is some
>to making as much configurability as you have in Word.
>Please send your response to the UA list at w3c-wai-ua@w3.org
>Please pass on my comments, or portions thereof,  to whoever might be
>I can understand the resistance people sometimes voice about the
>hyper-customization of software. Allowing "too many" degrees of
>freedom cuts against the grain of dominant monopolistic-capitalistic
>ideologies of standardization and homogenization. Customization has
>vague associations with chaos and anarchy. It is hard to control. It
>challenges the profit motive. It even challenges the authority of the
>experts who design and produce these systems and tools.
>Here's my take: There are many ways to craft a "look and feel."
>Windows is but one possibility. And it's not a particularly good one
>for people with sensory, mobility, learning and cognitive
>disabilities. In my CSUN 1998 and WWW8 papers, I argued that the
>Windows interface is problematic for keyboard-only access because
>although the interface is basically accessible, it is not especially
>usable: Once mastered, the interface boosts productivity; but on other
>measures of usability, the design fails: it is hard to learn and
>remember, produces unnecessary errors, and does not promote user
>satisfaction. I know many "general users" who claim to "like" Windows.
>Compared to what was available before (command.com), Windows does
>represent a significant improvement. I argue, however, that users
>WITHOUT disabilities are not particularly well-served by the Windows
>model. If exposed to better interfaces, they would quickly realize
>that there are much better ways to design a computer environment. The
>"oohs" and "aahs" that I hear from audiences when I demonstrate my
>homemade accessibility aids (which are really usability enhancements)
>is evidence (to my mind anyways) that they recognize that THERE are
>better ways to make a human-computer interface.
>I give a lot of credit to the people at Microsoft for the progress
>they have made in making Windows a more accessible system. The problem
>is that they are forced to make end-runs around an interface that was
>not designed to be accessible. And this, then, is the crux of the
>problem: When I deal with Windows applications, I need every tool at
>my disposal to improve access for the people with disabilities who I
>work with. I don't believe that just because it is POSSIBLE to
>accomplish a task using standard techniques, that we should settle for
>these "solutions." It does not make sense for someone with an
>upper-body mobility impairment to press 25 or 30 or 50 keystrokes to
>perform a task that could be done with one or two keystrokes. Yet this
>is exactly what happens. People I work with are being forced to work
>in inefficient, awkward, and injurious ways because some software
>designer did not consider the possibility that someone can't use a
>mouse, is blind, is distracted by a mess of toolbars, is over 40 years
>old and cannot decipher the spidery hardcoded text ... and on and on.
>Until we have an interface that works better than the current crop of
>Windows UIs, we need as much customization as possible: menus,
>toolbars, icons, colours, EVERYTHING. In fact, to solve certain access
>problems, I wish I could customize MORE than is possible now. The
>chaos and anarchy of customization -- the lack of standards and the
>refusal to accept homogeneity -- is a price we all pay for the
>privilege of having standardized on an operating environment that was
>never intended to be accessible to people with disabilities. To reduce
>customization requirements is tantamount to a guarantee that people
>with disabilities don't count and don't matter.
>Alan Cantor
>Cantor + Associates
>Workplace Accommodation Consultants

Jon Gunderson, Ph.D., ATP
Coordinator of Assistive Communication and Information Technology
Chair, W3C WAI User Agent Working Group
Division of Rehabilitation - Education Services
College of Applied Life Studies
University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign
1207 S. Oak Street, Champaign, IL  61820

Voice: (217) 244-5870
Fax: (217) 333-0248

E-mail: jongund@uiuc.edu

WWW: http://www.staff.uiuc.edu/~jongund
WWW: http://www.w3.org/wai/ua
Received on Friday, 14 January 2000 10:52:48 UTC

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