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Re: Automation? (was Label vs ALT tag on form elements)

for

From: Jared Smith
Date: Mar 23, 2007 8:10AM


On 3/23/07, Michael D. Roush < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:

> Would it be helpful to have an automated checking tool that would
> analyze a bit of code (i.e., a web page), and give a report about real
> or potential difficulties with various assistive technologies?

Here are a few initial thoughts. I certainly think such a tool would
be very valuable. We, in the accessibility field, tend to know much
less about assistive technology than we do about standards. But, as
you mention, such a project would take A LOT of work. Which AT would
you track? Would you only report on the most recent versions? What
about older versions that the majority of users may be using? New
versions come along quite often and keeping up with the
inconsistencies in them would take a lot of work.

Doing this testing would require a test suite of documents that you
could test various AT against. This set of documents could be as
valuable as the AT testing itself. I have yet to find a nice set of
document for testing AT and even accessibility reporting tools. The
W3C has the beginnings of these documents, but they really are quite
far from being useful at this point. Does anyone know of anything
better?

My final thought is regarding whether we, as developers, should be
developing to AT or to standards. More and more, I think the field is
shifting to a mindset that we should develop to standards and that it
is the AT's responsibility to support those standards. Gone should be
the days when we violate or don't fully implement standards because AT
product X or browser Y doesn't work right when we do. As such, the
guidelines, as convoluted and confusing as they are an easier target
to hit than accommodating the many problems that exist in AT. Still,
understanding how AT works with different standards would certainly be
of value to us.

Jared Smith
WebAIM.org