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[Irl-dean] False Accessibility Developers

Mark Magennis mark.magennis at cfit.ie
Wed Apr 12 11:03:09 IST 2006


>       Do you think an accessibility policy statement is a good idea?

I think it is a very good idea for an organisation to have an
accessibility policy, because policies in general are a good idea. They
provide a way to communicate the organisation's aims and approaches
externally and, more importantly, internally. They also provide a way to
measure activity against intentions and a framework within which those
intentions can be discussed, re-evaluated and modified over time. Part
of the accessibility policy should be a Web accessibility policy which
will state the level of accessibility that is aimed at and the practices
that the organisation will undertake to achieve that (including user
consultation, independent auditing customer feedback channels, etc.).
This is included in the recommendations of PAS78 and, shortly, the NDA
accessible procurement toolkit.

An accessibility *statement* on the website is a different thing. My
view is that, if a site is completely accessible, it doesn't need a
statement to say so and it doesn't need to state the accessibility
policy that underlies its success.

However, an accessibility statement should be required if there is a
policy that the site goes some way towards but, for some reasons, does
not quite meet. In practice, we are currently talking 99% of websites
:-(

In this case, the statement should outline the policy and state where
the site currently is against it. Where it meets the policy, where it
doesn't, why it doesn't and what is being done about it. I agree with
you Paul, that stating where you are on a process towards compliance is
better than waiting until you can claim complete success, at which point
you do not need to claim it because it should be apparent (or
transparent). In my view, an accessibility statement should include real
life statements like:

"we've set ourselves a target of 18 months from <date> to achieve this
level of accessibility."

"we can't afford to convert all our legacy PDFs to accessible format but
all new content will be in accessible formats and we will do our best to
provide individual conversions of older documents on request."

"we've taken the business decision not to cater for X, Y and Z users and
A, B and C platforms. Sorry."

I don't expect all website owners to be this open and honest, although I
think it would be very good if they were.
    
>       It's wise to look to WCAG 2.0 for direction 
>       when the first draft is ambiguous.

Not sure many people within WAI would like WCAG 1.0 being referred to as
a "first draft" :-) But then maybe everything is a draft really. My
whole life is a draft. I'm hoping to get it right next time round.

>       What does accessibility mean in Ireland exactly?
>       One of the things this group could do is debate the 
>       specific checkpoints it believes are most relevant in 
>       providing access to the widest possible audience most of 
>       the time. ... this group could 
>       provide assistance with the level of accessibility that 
>       is desirable for each type of site owner (within reason).

A very interesting point. When CFIT audit, our recommendations are
always prioritised. These priorities do not necessarily match the WCAG
1.0 priority levels because:

- It's generally agreed that WCAG 1.0 priorities are a bit skew-iff in
places.

- It depends on the extent of each problem, not just the type of
problem, e.g. missing alt text on one page is not as bad as missing
structural elements throughout the whole site.

- It depends on the importance of the functionality that is being
affected, e.g. no labels on the feedback form is a lower priority than
no labels on the search form, because search is far more important.

- It depends on the audience and what affects them most, e.g. general
public vs. IT professionals, older people vs. younger people.

So, even if WCAG priorities are improved in 2.0, they are still not
universal. It therefore seems correct that the priorities of a High
Street Bank should be different from those of a kid selling football
cards.

>       When is it ok to have an alternative site?
>       ...
>       reason. This is especially true when the accessible 
>       version isn't updated as often or if it doesn't provide 
>       as many products as the main version.

Experience in Ireland is very bad on this point. Some major Irish sites,
such as Tesco, Irish Rail and Dublin Bus, have "accessible" versions
that have been lacking in functionality compared with the standard
versions, unavailable for long periods of time while the standard
version has been available and actually not very accessible.

Mark







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