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Re: Fall 2000 UA: A bar too low!

From: Ian Jacobs <ij@w3.org>
Date: Sun, 12 Nov 2000 18:07:49 -0500
Message-ID: <3A0F22C5.483EDA4B@w3.org>
To: Bryan Campbell <bryany@pathcom.com>
CC: w3c-wai-ua@w3.org
Bryan Campbell wrote:
> In getting into high gear to review the UA I looked at the site and read "1
> November 2000 Implementation Report"
> http://www.w3.org/WAI/UA/WD-UAAG10-IMP-20001101/ Guildline 1 on
> device-independence left me aghast by using the same word, extensive, to
> describe keyboard support in IE and Opera. Yes the Report has strong
> disclaimers about accuracy, yet the mere existence of the page creates
> authority letting it appear it is just as easy to keyboard around the Web
> in IE as Opera and that isn't the case (and the correct name of the firm is
> Opera Software not Operasoft). As someone once said on the email list
> programs can claim Accessibility and yet be very difficult for persons with
> disabilities to run.


I'm glad to hear that you are reviewing this document. Please note
that this document is *very stale* and we are actively working on it
today. Your input and updates are very welcome.
> Before going further it maybe time to define Accessibility. Early on it
> seems some vendors led the WG to a narrow meaning of Accessibility that
> accepts any equivalent to the main interface as enough. And access could
> only be the ability to reach a function with no regard to easy use.
> Consulting on line dictionary http://www.onelook.com access and accessible
> mostly mean easy to get at, Accessibility is more defined as just access
> without specifying ease. While writing this it occured to me to check the
> WAI home page http://www.w3.org/WAI Its first sentence says [quote]
> "Mission: The W3C's commitment to lead the Web to its full potential
> includes promoting a high degree of usability for people with
> disabilities." [unquote] Given the place usability occupies in that
> sentence Accessibility does mean continent and easy to use! With usability
> in mind I urge the WG members themselves to go over whatever wish list they
> have themselves because many of the best ideas are on the email list not in
> proposed Guildlines. My worry is that your fine work will be obscured
> leaving high usability unachieved.
> To illustrate what members might do I'll talk about keyboard commands since
> I'm most comfortable and experienced with that topic. What a UA does
> determines the kind of keyboard commands make it easy to use. Players where
> users mostly listen and or watch a media clip have less need for easy one
> keystroke commands because once players begin to run the audience is mostly
> passive. There should be regular style shortcuts to get embedded links and
> it'd a huge help if the 4 keyPad Cursor Arrows did volume and Rewind or
> Fast-forward (perhaps that would be vital for folks with sensory
> disabilities).
> Web pages are what present folks with physical disabilities (like myself, I
> work via headwand and keyboard only) huge workloads as pages have an
> amazing number of links. Such numbers that the single selector key provided
> by AccessKey is overwhelmed, if AccessKey took multiple characters so a
> sequence picked an exact URL it could help. But it would still mean
> traveling all over the keyboard to type a unique string which is much work.
> Simple resting on one key (in the main keyboard area) till a link highlight
> goes from the bottom or top of a page is likely the easier way to pick
> links. One key commands also work excellently for page Back and Forward,
> Frames, Headers, and windows. Opera has those 1 key commands and more
> making me and another Opera devotee, Bill McMurray
> http://www.buffnet.net/~billmcm who uses a headwand, very efficient on the
> Web. NCSA Mosaic also has 1 key commands and I used that browser very
> successfully on first coming to the Web in October 1995 making the point 1
> keystroke commands are necessary, useful, and not out of the ordinary in
> program.
> As to IE's keyboard commands it is doubtful eWeek Magazine
> http://www.zdnet.com/eweek would of printed the article "IE trips up
> Disabled"
> http://www.zdnet.com/filters/printerfriendly/0,6061,2618369-54,00.html
> unless it is readily evident IE isn't keyboard friendly (I hope that
> printer friendly link works well with screen readers). Microsoft
> acknowledged the problem in the story, suggesting it is best addressed by
> custom keyboards. That is a reasonable solution if the person can't really
> use a regular keyboard at all, but special hardware is often extremely
> expensive so avoiding it is a real plus. Beside that a regular keyboard has
> Cursor Pad keys for page movement (vital on the Web) plus the Function keys
> offering tremendous means to customize it.
> In the article also Microsoft said it couldn't get people for a focus group
> to advise it on keyboard browsing commands. To deal with that difficult I
> e-mailed eWeek the following, part of which appeared in eWeek and on this
> printable page
> http://www.zdnet.com/filters/printerfriendly/0,6061,2627045-54,00.html
> [quote] "My thought is to use the folks working on the W3C Web
> Accessibility Initiative, especially those in the [UA] Browser Group. With
> their knowledge they are a fabulous substitute for focus groups. Consisting
> of people with disabilities and Rehabilitation professionals the Browser
> Group has full understanding of the issues. Supplemented by some PC press
> columnists interested in a keyboard interface it is highly likely a small
> group could soon create some key command layouts for browsing. Like the
> current Mouse & Sticky key applets Browser keys would only be turned On
> when necessary so other folks don't suffer unexpected activity. Every need
> can't be met, yet for the folks that can use standard equipment it'd be a
> wondrous improvement! Software is the most malleable, vastly powerful human
> creation ever seen on this planet. To not fully utilize software in the
> Rehabilitation arena is a great loss we mustn't face.
> " [unquote]
> My feeling has always been that this WG can provide detailed examples
> vendors can turn into easy to use options that leave the default interface
> alone. Indeed, it might be that many more people will use these
> enhancements than some developers expect. A thought expressed by the title
> of this article. Accessibility for Everyone: Windows supports a collection
> of features that can enhance almost any user's computer life. 16 June 2000
> http://www.zdnet.com/filters/printerfriendly/0,6061,2576045-50,00.html
> Another thing that occurs to me is the Guildlines should say somewhere some
> people with disabilities work at greatly reduced speeds while having full
> understanding of the material being presented so to reach as much material
> as possible we need commands that are virtually effortless to run (With
> decreased speed being the more important point). Now onto another item.
> Under Techniques in Guildlines 5 it seems too difficult to justify
> interface improvements decreasing the impact of everything else. Checkpoint
> 5.8 paragraph 11
> [quote] "Maintain consistency in the user interface between versions of the
> software. Consistency is less important than improved general accessibility
> and usability, but developers should make changes conservatively to the
> layout of user interface controls, the behavior of existing
> functionalities, and the default keyboard configuration." [unquote]
> Basically the paragraph says be extremely careful with interface changes
> which could make always conservative developers reluctant to do much. It is
> a very good idea to say the interface mustn't change with version of the
> program so Accessibility isn't the place for continuos interface experiment
> [grin] To strike a balance between consistency and the need to be
> imaginative to create easy Accessibility is the goal. Phrasing like this
> should do it [quote] "For the most part maintain consistency in the user
> interface between versions of the software. Consistency is less important
> than improved general accessibility and usability. Established OS
> conventions should be left as is to co-exist with less expected approaches
> that create easy Accessibility." [unquote] Established items, say in
> Windows, include Alt-F4 to Exit programs and Control-C to Copy. Care must
> be taken because in a document like this because it difficult to predict
> what phrases will later be taken to be most significant.

Please note checkpoint 9.2, which I think captures what you are saying:

 9.2 Avoid default input configurations that interfere 
     with operating system accessibility conventions. [Priority 1] 

> Moving to the Guildline itself 2 items could provide more information.
> Guildline 1 paragraph 2 sentence 2 is [quote] "Keyboard operation of all
> functionalities offered through the user interface is one of the most
> important aspects of user agent accessibility on almost every platform."
> [unquote] To begin ensuring ease of use this should be added to the
> sentence, (using as few keystrokes as is possible) .


> Sentence 2 in the
> paragraph becomes [quote] "Keyboard operation (using as few keystrokes as
> is possible) of all functionalities offered through the user interface is
> one of the most important aspects of user agent accessibility on almost
> every platform." [unquote] Without enough details developers simply wont be
> able to produce satisfactory results! 

Have you seen all of the keyboard requirements of Guideline 9 yet?

> In the PC Magazine of 17 Oct 2000
> Bill Machrone, Vice President (Technology) for Ziff-Davis Publishing
> Company, had some pertinent thoughts on how new interface designers
> approach the keyboard: [quote] "They know enough to ensure that users can
> drive their interfaces from the keyboard, but they don't spend a minute
> thinking about whether the keystrokes make sense from a user perspective."
> [unquote] (the whole column is on this printable page
> http://www.zdnet.com/filters/printerfriendly/0,6061,2629056-50,00.html )
> Once the WG explains the needs via the Guildlines some of these bright
> newcomers will prove highly skilled in creating easy access for all. If
> they have enough information to guide them.
> With more examples developers should be able to write easy to run UAs that
> have full Accessibility. That is necessary as the Web is now a vital source
> of information on all topics so easy access is a must to allow full
> participation in the new global society. I'm not on the UA list regularly
> so e-mail me directly on any of this and I'll join in as needed.

Thanks Bryan. Keep sending review comments!

  _ Ian

Ian Jacobs (jacobs@w3.org)   http://www.w3.org/People/Jacobs
Tel:                         +1 831 457-2842
Cell:                        +1 917 450-8783
Received on Sunday, 12 November 2000 18:07:52 UTC

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