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[Irl-dean] Creating accessible javascript

Gez Lemon gez.lemon at gmail.com
Sat Sep 30 13:34:04 IST 2006


Hi Barry,

On 30/09/06, Barry McMullin <mcmullin at eeng.dcu.ie> wrote:
> Sorry to keep flogging this one, but it is quite subtle, so I'd
> like one last (?) bite at it.
>
> It seems to me that there are quite two distinct points that
> might be being made here:
>
> + *Using* Javascript is not *necessarily* bad for accessibility,
>   and may even positively enhance accessibility for at least some
>   users;

I completely agree with this.

> + But *reliance* on Javascript for any "important" content or
>   functionality *is* necessarily bad for accessibility.

My initial reaction to this is that it would depend on how you defined
accessibility. Reading on, it seems we share the same definition of
web accessibility, but differ in our conclusions.

> So the only possible lingering disagreement is whether reliance on
> javascript is a bad thing on any specific *accessibility* grounds
> (i.e. related to disability).
>
> My own view is that it *is* bad on specific accessibility grounds
> - basically because, in the current state of the technology, it
> is difficult, verging on the impossible, to guarantee that
> javascript will not actually interfere with the behaviour of
> (any) assistive technology.

I agree that developers have to know what they are doing in order to
ensure that scripting doesn't conflict with user agents, but that
doesn't mean that assistive technology does not work with JavaScript.
Because some developers are irresponsible with how they use a
technology, it doesn't mean the technology itself is inherently
inaccessible. Some developers are irresponsible with HTML, but HTML
isn't in and of itself an accessibility problem. Everyone (developers,
user agent vendors, and users) have to play their role equally. I
disagree that because JavaScript could cause problems with AT, it's
therefore an accessibility problem to rely on it. It's a device
independent issue to rely on it that impacts on everyone equally who
happens to be using a non-script capable browser.

Just for clarity, I don't advocate relying on JavaScript, because it
creates device independent issues - I just don't see it as being an
accessibility issue. If a person with a disability disables the
scripting capabilities of their browser, they can enable it again just
as someone without that disability could.

Regards,

Gez


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