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Re: I'm Worried...

From: Greg Lowney <gcl-0039@access-research.org>
Date: Wed, 10 Feb 2010 19:31:51 -0800
Message-ID: <4B737A27.6000109@access-research.org>
To: WAI-UA list <w3c-wai-ua@w3.org>
Hi Simon,

I really appreciate you raising these issues!

Re your question #1 of whether Principle 3 (Perceivable - The user interface and rendered content must be presented to users in ways they can perceive) required content to be translated into pictograms, I would say no. In my interpretation a sighted person can *perceive* visually-rendered text as long as the size, colors, and contrast are appropriate, regardless of whether they can *understand* it. Understandability is covered under Principle 5 (Ensure that the user interface is understandable). But that currently addresses only user interface, which brings us to...

Re your question #2 asks if we can address how textual content can reduce accessibility with regard to cognitive disability. I think that's an excellent suggestion. At first glance I can't find much about that in the current draft. 
Currently Principle 5 (Ensure that the user interfacce is understandable) only addresses the user interface, but we could add something, somewhere to recommend steps that the user agent can take to facilitate undertandability of content 

For example a user agent could: (a) allow the user to easily look up simple definitions or illustrations for terms in the content; (b) provide translations of content into other languages or writing styles; and (c) attempt to generate summaries of content or highlight key phrases. (These are already available in Firefox using add-ins such as Dict, gTranslate, and the outdated GreatSummary.) Some features we already address, such as providing an outline view, could serve as aids to understandability in addition to navigation. Do people have additional suggestions?

If we do decide to add those, we could easily fit them under Principle 5 by changing its title to include both user interface and content, like Principle 3 already does. In fact, Principle 4 ("Ensure that the user interface is operable", actually includes things like text search and content flashing that go far beyond just user interface; if we keep those, perhaps it's title, too, should be broadened.

(As yet another aside, it seems like Guideline 4.5, "Configure and store preference settings", doesn't really fit under Principle 4, "Ensure the user interface is operable", more than it fits under Principle 3 about making UI and content perceivable.)

Finally, re your question #3 as to whether Principle 5 would require user agents to take steps to make UI and possibly content more easily understandable, such as translating things into pictograms, I would say that we can certainly include guidance to this effect, but we can decide whether to make them base-level requirements (Level A) or merely requirements for higher-level certification (Level AA and AAA, which ISO and ANSI call Recommendations). For example, yes, we could *recommend* (as Level AAA) an option to display icons for user interface items such as toolbar buttons, although I would not make it a Level A requirement because I wouldn't expect software to do it for all of its UI. Another way of putting that is that, while we want to encourage design that maximizes accessibility but we have to balance that against reasonable  expectations. Software could do many wonderful things, but if there are not already two user agents that do them, and do them consistently thr
oughout their UI, then we're not allowed to include them as success criteria.

I hope that's helpful.


-------- Original Message  --------
Subject: I'm Worried...
From: Simon Harper <simon.harper@manchester.ac.uk>
To: UAWG list <w3c-wai-ua@w3.org>
Date: 2/5/2010 2:32 AM

Hi there guys,

Sorry for not being very talkative on the Telecon yesterday, and for 
confining myself to listening to the discussion. However, as the 
discussion unfolded, and this is not in relation to action item 263, I 
started to become a little worried about what we are actually expecting 
user agent manufacturers to do with regard to the accessibility of their 
technology. From a brief analysis of guidelines as they stand in draft 
at present we seem to be reasonably focused on specific key disability 
such as blindness and hearing loss. I became more concerned with regard 
to how these guidelines would be implemented with regard to cognitive 
disability and learning impairments as in some cases it seems to me that 
the guidelines have an implicit idea about, and address, a specific 

That said I may be completely wrong on this point, so to allay my fears 
I wonder if somebody from the group could answer me a couple of 
questions. I think if we can't answer these questions we need to think 
again about some of the guidelines and indeed our ideas about user agent 

1) How does principle three 'PRINCIPLE 3: Perceivable - The user 
interface and rendered content must be presented to users in ways they 
can perceive.' and the guidelines that are within it relate to cognitive 
disability and learning impairments, 'content must be presented to users 
in ways they can perceive' suggests to me that the content must be 
translated into pictograms for this particular user group. Are we really 
expecting this to occur?

2) In the case of guideline 4.9 'Guideline 4.9 Provide control of 
content that may reduce accessibility.' Content that may reduce 
accessibility is text with regard to cognitive disability learning 
impairment. How can this be addressed in such a case?

3) Finally, 'Principle 5: Ensure that user interface is understandable', 
How will this understandability be ensured with regard to cognitive 
disability and learning impairment? Are we expecting user agent 
manufacturers to provide pictorial representations of the textual aspects.

Based on responses from the working group I have some additional 
questions, but I don't want to labour the point here, and indeed your 
answers may negate some of those questions I already have.



Simon Harper
University of Manchester (UK)

Human Centred Web Lab: http://hcw.cs.manchester.ac.uk

My Site: http://hcw.cs.manchester.ac.uk/people/harper/

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Received on Thursday, 11 February 2010 03:34:14 UTC

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