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Re: Describing accessibility of places Introduction


From: Chaals McCathie Nevile
Date: Nov 13, 2015 11:32AM

On Fri, 13 Nov 2015 16:29:46 +0100, Bourne, Sarah (ITD)
< <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:

> This is an interesting and challenging area to work on, Chaals.
> The accessibility of places actually covers a lot more than just, "Can a
> wheelchair get in the front door?" Just looking at the issues for
> people using wheelchairs, they would want to know if they could also get
> to and use a table or service counter. In other cases, blind people
> might like to know if the elevators have audible announcements and
> Braille button labels.

Absolutely. One reason for starting with "can I get inside in the first
place" is that we know there is a huge granularity in things people would
like to know, but we don't know much about getting people to voluntarily
add that data and what things they are likely to do and get right.

Unfortunately, in most of the world there is no effective regulation
covering all the things that Massachusetts requires, let alone enforcing
it (which is imperfect even in places with good law).

If we start requesting data, and confuse people to the extent that they
confuse the data, we end up with a large amount of work that cannot be
used. Which comes at a very big price. Even assuming that people work in
english (which on the Web is mostly the wrong assumption now) this gives
us pause.

So yes, we definitely want to be able to provide useful information, that
covers the various things people need to know, and there are lots of those.

> Here in Massachusetts, we have an entire state agency devoted to setting
> and enforcing regulations "to make public buildings accessible to,
> functional for, and safe for use by persons with disabilities." The
> regulations cover things from counter height to door weight and hardware
> to aisle widths etc., etc., etc. Without doing the research, I'm
> willing to bet they're based on the requirements of the US Access Board,
> so there would be a lot of commonality in the US. If you print them all
> out, they could actually weigh more than I do, but it could be taken as
> the outside limit of what a vocabulary would require, at least in terms
> of access compliance. I can see why you would want to start small. But
> you would want the schema to support the full range for those willing
> and capable of reporting on it.

Yes, I do. And I don't want to waste a lot of people's work doing that
wrong. I am prepared to bet a small fortune that if I just ask people to
provide data according to the US Access Board requirements, most of my
market (a couple of hundred million people whose primary work language is
Russian) will get no benefit at all - and even in the US, only a
relatively small proportion of places will manage to provide good-quality
information that is useful to real people.

> And there are other things a venue could be providing that go beyond
> that that they would actually want to brag about, such as using
> "beacons" in museums for wayfinding and providing additional
> information. I would expect reporting on "features" like this to more
> accurate.


> Maybe this is an Internet of Things problem, and facilities should be
> able to report on themselves. Rather than people trying to manually
> provide this metadata, they could just call in the API. (I wish I lived
> in the future!)

In part that is the case. Indeed, people like the late and lamented
William Loughborough built decades of experience already - which is sort
of copied in some high-profile modern projects to replicate that.

Schema isn't the only solution, but it happens to be widespread,
associated with high-profile search engines, and part of my job…

So I hope we can use it to improve things somewhat, even while we wait for
the internet of truthful things to fix everything. Although I suspect it
will be a while yet before the steps to cross the road near my office warn
me that they are slippery, or that the step into my favourite bar in Léon
warns people entering that it has a scary dip worn into the middle from
people walking on it.



Charles McCathie Nevile - web standards - CTO Office, Yandex
<EMAIL REMOVED> - - - Find more at http://yandex.com