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Re: Chronicle of Higher Education article "Colleges Lock Out Blind Students Online" Chronicle Article and form control labeling


From: John Foliot
Date: Dec 15, 2010 11:24AM

Gunderson, Jon R wrote:
> I am not forcing anyone to do anything.

By publishing a ranking, and by having the Chronicle of Higher Education
re-publish that data as "The Best and Worst" as some form of definitive
listing you are forcing non-participants in your Best Practices exercise
to meet *your* criteria. I completely and vehemently disagree with a
number of those Best Practices (as do many others, including WebAIM's
Jared Smith), have said so publicly here on this thread twice now, and
have further asked you to justify how they ensure accessibility.

You have steadfastedly avoided answering those questions and providing
those justifications, yet you presume to judge other institutions 'success
or failure' by these flawed Rules. You are attempting to force
institutions to abide by your rule-set, or those institutions will
continue to rank lower in your Best and Worst list. It amounts to

Will you be answering my questions? Yes or No?

> People will review the data and make their own conclusions.
> Hopefully good ones for improving accessibility and help open
> discussion at universities on how to manage and provide administrative
> controls for web accessibility, which seem to be sorely lacking.

I think my conclusions are pretty clear to everyone, but I now get to
spend the next couple of weeks running around putting out false fires at
my institution explaining to managers why it's not crucial to meet some of
*your* best practices to ensure accessibility, how there is wide-spread
disagreement about those best practices, that "...passing these rules
doesn't mean you are accessible, it just means you have the markup for
accessibility. There are many manual tests that must be made..." etc.,
etc. and I am telling you, publicly, that this does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO
ADVANCE THE GOALS AT MY INSTITUTION. You have put me, and others at
similar higher education institutions, on the defense, running around
undoing the damage you have caused here. (8 pixel images indeed!)

> Web accessibility is more than setting a policy and hoping developers
> do the right thing, it needs to be managed and audited just like other
> IT issues like security.

But you did not do an 'audit', you did a mechanical checking with no
thought process involved, simply a series of tick-box checks using Rules
that neither ensure accessibility is met nor, when missing, impede
accessibility, and then you had the audacity to publish the results as a
ranking of the Best and Worst. It's a sham!

Web accessibility is more than a mechanical testing of a page and
expecting that if all the tick-boxes are checked off the page it's
accessible; it needs to be an educational process just like any high-level
cognitive success process is, be it *real* security or *real*
accessibility. The intelligent use of tools in that pursuit is important,
but you've shifted the entire burden of "success or failure" and Best or
Worst ranking, not on progress, education, or real accessibility, but
rather on the fact that you believe that pages should meet *your* Best
Practices, as tested by a tool *you* built, without question or it fails -
and gets added to the "Worst" list.

> You either believe that you need to provide developers with coding
> practices or not for accessibility.

Jon, this is me you are talking to. I have spent the last 11 years of my
life committed to this cause, and you don't need to tell me what must be
done. We all know that educating developers and teaching them how to do
things right, and how to use tools to ensure they are meeting success *IS*
the job, and to presume that anyone reading this list doesn't get that
already is preposterous.

Many other dedicated people in Higher Ed also understand that, and have
spent years working towards that goal, yet you presume to judge their
institutions and rank their 'success'. People such as Terrill Thompson
(University of Washington - #113 in your list), Jared Smith (University of
Utah - #38), Lisa Fiedor (North Carolina State - #72) Harold Kramer and
Cath Stager Kilcommons (U. of Colorado at Boulder - #137), Gregg
Vanderheiden and Ben Caldwell (U. of Wisconsin at Madison - #96), me
(Stanford - #109)... it's preposterous, it's offensive, and it's

> In my work with web developers I would do presentations on Section 508
> or WCAG and many of them would come up to me after a presentation and
> tell me they understood some of the requirements and didn't understand
> mpost of the other requirements. Could I just tell them what to do and
> they would trust that I was providing them with coding practices that
> met the requirements.

So rather than truly help them understand, you give them a cookie cutter
check list, pat them on the head and tell them that if they just do these
things all will be great, and they will have reached magical accessibility
nirvana? Seriously?

> The best practices are about what works for web developers and people
> with disabilities based on the current technologies and AT
> implementations (is a big factor in form control labeling)
> Best Practices:
> http://html.cita.illinois.edu
> For the most part I have found developers have embraced the best
> practices since they make more sense to them than trying to understand
> the requirements of Section 508 or WCAG 2.0.

Sure, because once again you've turned it into a tick-box list that
requires no THINKING, just do what Jon says and all will be groovy -
you'll rank higher on the Best and Worst List. YOU ARE PERPETUATING A LIE!

> They also seem to make sense to a lot of other people outside Illinois
> because they have been independently implemented, even at less well
> known schools, like Missouri Sate University:
> http://webaccessibility.cita.illinois.edu/data/school/204/

Yes, with no offense to those schools who participate, for the most part
they don't seem important enough to make it to your ranking list. Instead
you take on larger institutions, with their own accessibility programs and
strategies, and go after them - they aren't following Illinois' Best
Practices and using FAE? Down to the bottom of the list you go.

Jon, if you truly believe that this strategy will ensure success at the
University of Illinois, or at the other institutions who are part of your
Best Practices group, then I wish you and them all the success in the
world. However, when you presume to judge the efforts and strategies of
other organizations who do not share that opinion you crossed the line.
And to then have it published in the Chronicle of Higher Education as some
form of definitive Best and Worst list? It's outrageous!

> This is the type of win-win situation we need to promote web
> accessibility,

A ranking of Best and Worst is hardly win-win: you're either a Best
(winner) or Worst (loser). It does *absolutely nothing* to promote web
accessibility - NOTHING!

> If there are better coding practices for meeting Section 508 or WCAG
> 2.0 requirements I would love to hear about them, and I am sure other
> people on this list would also like to hear them too.


But to be clear, these aren't shopping lists, they make the effort to
actually *teach*, because THE best practice is to think about what you are
doing, rather than dogmatically following somebody else's tick-box list.

> If you don't like these best practices I hope that it will spur
> discussion on your campus on what are best practices for your campus
> and I hope you will share the results with the rest of us.

So... you've passed judgment on these institutions, yet you don't even
know what their internal discussions and best practices strategies already
are? Unbelievable...