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Re: The Commercialization of Web Accessibility


From: Adrian Howard
Date: Dec 20, 2001 6:31AM

on 19/12/01 9:29 pm, Tim Harshbarger at <EMAIL REMOVED>
> In my job, I work a lot with Human Factors specialists and interface design
> specialists. These are people who are specifically trained in the area of
> Human-Computer interactions. I have always noticed that Human Factors
> people tend to organize into associations like HFES or CHI. I gather that
> other professions do something similar. However, with regards to
> accessibility, we seem not to have a strong organization that serves a
> similar purpose. Is it time people begin to look at that?
> Perhaps, I have opened up a can of worms...then again, I keep telling our
> that we keep a large box of them here just in case.

Worms.... yummy... where's my can opener :-)

To be slightly provocative --- is the fact that accessibility people don't
form organisation(s) due to the fact that it's not really a separate

Personally, I have always viewed accessibility work as an (admittedly much
neglected) specialisation of general usability work.

This may be a personal bias. I came into doing work on accessibility from
doing usability work --- and found myself applying much the same skills and

My feeling is that most accessibility work is going to get folded into
related professions (usability, info science, etc.) with a few specialised
skills around the outside (e.g. captioning/subtitling).

Would this be a good thing?

On the plus side: One of the problems I have with promoting accessibility
issues is that it's seen as something separate, specialised, and aimed at
minorities. Sad I know. Having accessibility as part of a more general field
that is seen as dealing with larger groups of users will help.

On the minus side: I fear that only a subset of knowledge will make it out
into the more general fields. You are already seeing this in companies that
are adding "accessibility" to their list of buzzwords and only understanding
part of what this means.

So, do people doing accessibility work have a role in promoting in related
fields --- rather than to producers of content?


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