Re: Path to Last Call (was closing various issues)

On Mon, Aug 24, 2009 at 1:21 PM, Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis <> wrote:

> Do you agree that the following two claims about web author psychology are
> true?
>   1. Web authors have various goals.
>   2. Web authors often treat other goals as more important that
> accessibility.

No. I can't agree because I don't even accept that in general authors even
have "goals". Unless you mean they are trying to get material onto the Web?
But that's simply a "duh!" and not "various" and I strongly believe that
most authors don't even know what "accessibility" means in the sense we are
using it. They know that if they don't include a valid source for the <img>
their knuckles get rapped and they don't get onto the Web. There is no
imperative reason that they should get easily onto the Web unless they "play
by the rules", including providing accessibility. If their goal is to get
onto the Web, I agree they may try to game the rules that are in place but
that doesn't excuse not putting any rules in place.

If yes, do you agree that the following prediction based on those claims is
> reliable?
>   3. All other things being equal, more web content will be accessible if
> actions required to meet those other goals intrinsically produce accessible
> content than if additional actions are required to make the content
> accessible.

"all other things" are never equal so this is a strawman, which is OK but
doesn't respond to the idea that we are behaving as if accessibility were a
stepchild rather than a central issue. "additional actions" are always
required, it's just that almost everybody, unfortunately including most of
us in this discussion still regard accessibility as some "special
entitlement" claim by people with functional diversity, therefore not worth
bothering about. This leads to the concept of "only for accessibility"
because without accessibility, the Web is useless.

> Your emails seem to make the ethical claim that:
>   4. Web authors are obligated to treat accessibility as an essential goal.

All the correspondence agrees with this, not just my emails. Repeatedly
everyone says "I'm all for accessibility, of course."

Do you think this ethical claim changes the truth of the first two claims or
> the reliability of the prediction?

I think the first two claims are (nothing pejorative intended) bogus and it
is silly to think that there can be any verifiable evaluation of the
prediction's reliability, particularly in the long term.

> Let's say there is language feature, there are two options to allow authors
> to make content using that feature accessible, and the options are equal in
> all respects except that one option requires additional author action and
> the other option requires no author action. In that scenario, which of the
> following should the web specification designers do and why:

Again, it's facile to pose a question with such premises (why only two
options, etc.?)

>   (a) Pick a random option.
>   (b) Pick the option that involves extra author action.
>   (c) Pick the option that involves no extra author action.

Like all multiple choice questions, this set of options (even though it
doesn't include the usual "all/none of the above"), e.g. who/when/where are
these options being picked?) is designed to make some point rather than to
address the central issue: how can we ensure accessibility to the Web?

> It seems Steven is effectively saying they should pick the option that
> involves no extra action, because he accepts the prediction that this will
> lead to more content being accessible.

I can't speak for Steven (I can barely speak for myself!), but the way I
read his query I certainly can't say he believes the "no extra action"
choice would lead to more content accessibility, and in fact I don't believe
that there's any possibility of determining if that's the case.

The contention that we are doing everything possible to assure inclusion of
the wide diversity of users, even including people with various
"disabilities", seems spurious to me and I'm one of "them".


Received on Monday, 24 August 2009 21:11:49 UTC