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Thread: The official definition [of web accessibility] from the W3C is wrong

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From: Steve Faulkner
Date: Fri, Feb 06 2015 4:18AM
Subject: The official definition [of web accessibility] from the W3C is wrong
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discussion starter:

"We need to change the way we talk about accessibility. Most people are
taught that “web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use
the Web”— the official definition from the W3C. This is wrong. Web
accessibility means that *people* can use the web."

source: Reframing Accessibility for the Web
http://alistapart.com/article/reframing-accessibility-for-the-web
--

Regards

SteveF

From: Michael Bullis
Date: Fri, Feb 06 2015 7:04AM
Subject: Re: The official definition [of web accessibility] from theW3C is wrong
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Interesting.
Sometimes when definitions are too broad they lose practical meaning. We humans are problem solvers. Knowing that my goal that people with disabilities can use the web is very focussing. It causes me to solve problems for people with specific disabilities and leads me to specific solutions.
People using the web, on the other hand, doesn't focus me on any specific problem to solve since people can already use the web. What people? My brain says, do you mean Spanish speaking people? Do you mean people with mobile devices? Children?
Mike Bullis,
Executive director,
The IMAGE Center of Maryland


-----Original Message-----
From: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = [mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = ] On Behalf Of Steve Faulkner
Sent: Friday, February 6, 2015 6:18 AM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: [WebAIM] The official definition [of web accessibility] from the W3C is wrong

discussion starter:

"We need to change the way we talk about accessibility. Most people are taught that “web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the Web”— the official definition from the W3C. This is wrong. Web accessibility means that *people* can use the web."

source: Reframing Accessibility for the Web http://alistapart.com/article/reframing-accessibility-for-the-web
--

Regards

SteveF

From: Tim Harshbarger
Date: Fri, Feb 06 2015 7:39AM
Subject: Re: The official definition [of web accessibility] from theW3C is wrong
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Context is king and I think the definition the W3C uses is adequate for our context.

Accessibility can mean a lot of different things. Outside of our context of disability and technology, I most often hear it to refer to ensuring people have continuous access to the services and products our company provides. Since the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) is focused on trying to create specifications that can be used to remove access barriers that exist for people who have some kind of physical, intellectual, or sensory disability, the definition is adequate.

However, I think I do understand the point the author is trying to make. Often in design and development discussions, there seems to be 2 groups--people and people with disabilities. Is that really the case? Are users with disabilities a completely separate group? Or is disability just a trait of people that can impact how they use technology?

If you are creating financial software for accountants, are there 2 groups of accountants--accountants and accountants with disabilities? Or is there just one group and disability is just one of many traits that impact how accountants use technology?

As long as we start off conversations with people who are assuming people with disabilities are a separate group, they are going to ask "How much more will it cost us to make this software accessible?" However, if disability is just another trait of the user group, it becomes part of the question "How much will it cost for us to implement this software?"

So, I think the W3C's definition is adequate for a context where the goal is to create specifications that help us define access barriers and solve them. But the same definition used for the general public just might reinforce their erroneous perception that people with disabilities are a separate group of users--and that accessibility is an add on feature to good quality software rather than part of the definition of good quality software.

In fact, in the rest of the article, the author tries to suggest ways to integrate accessibility into the project lifecycle so that it isn't possible to separate users into 2 groups. People are writing personas--well, include disability into the personas rather than create separate personas with disabilities. Trying to figure out what technologies you will need to test with? Just incorporate AT into that test matrix.

I think the author's definition might be incomplete. However, it might be a better way to start off conversations about accessibility because it tries to state disability as a trait of all users and is less likely to reinforce accidentally a perception that people with disability should be treated as an entire separate user group.


Thanks,
Tim


-----Original Message-----
From: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = [mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = ] On Behalf Of Steve Faulkner
Sent: Friday, February 06, 2015 5:18 AM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: [WebAIM] The official definition [of web accessibility] from the W3C is wrong

discussion starter:

"We need to change the way we talk about accessibility. Most people are
taught that “web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use
the Web”— the official definition from the W3C. This is wrong. Web
accessibility means that *people* can use the web."

source: Reframing Accessibility for the Web
http://alistapart.com/article/reframing-accessibility-for-the-web
--

Regards

SteveF