Thread Subject: Product/Functional Standards Specifications
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From: Randy Dipner
Date: Tue, Oct 24 2006 11:25 AM
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I guess I still have a differing opinion on this subject. The functional
standards as laid out in the current 508 standards are generally pretty
useless for the common user. For example, the statement, "at least one mode
of operation and information retrieval that does not require user vision
shall be provided, or support for assistive technology used by people who
are blind or visually impaired shall be provided," requires the reader to be
conversant in what makes something accessible without vision. Those of us in
the field understand this, but the typical product designer may or may not.
Standards should not require the user to be an accessibility expert. The
experts develop the standards to embody the expertise they possess. For
example, in the ADAAG or ADA/ABA guidelines, an accessible door is defines
as having a 32-inch, minimum, clear opening. The designer doesn't need to
know why this is the case to build such a door. There is certainly reason
behind the requirement. It would be difficult for building designers to
build a structure if the doorway requirement were written as, "a wide enough
opening to permit users of mobility devices to use the door." Similarly, the
ADAAG and ADA/ABA guidelines define the height above which and below which
something sticking out from the wall or overhanging a path of travel
constitutes a protrusion hazard. I know why the specification is written the
way it is, but the designer only needs to know the dimensions to correctly
design the walkway. Designers would not know what to do with a requirement
stated as, "ensure hazardous protrusions do not exist."
It may not be immediately possible to restructure the 508 standards in this
standards language form, but I believe it should be our long range goal.
This approach removes both the product element and the specific disability
definition from the standard.
Meeting the Challenge, Inc.
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Colorado Springs, CO 80907
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