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Beyond Compliance - A Holistic Approach to Web Accessibility


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A talk on "Beyond Compliance - A Holistic Approach to Web Accessibility" given at the Techshare 2007 conference.

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Beyond Compliance - A Holistic Approach to Web Accessibility

  1. 1. Beyond Compliance - A Holistic Approach to Web Accessibility Brian Kelly UK Web Focus UKOLN University of Bath Bath, UK UKOLN is supported by: This work is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 licence (but note caveat) Acceptable Use Policy Recording/broadcasting of this talk, taking photographs, discussing the content using email, instant messaging, blogs, SMS, etc. is permitted providing distractions to others is minimised. Resources bookmarked using ‘ techshare-2007 ' tag
  2. 2. About This Paper <ul><li>This paper describes work carried our by various accessibility researchers in the UK: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reviews limitations of WAI approach to Web applicability (described at W4A 2005) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Describes holistic approach for e-learning accessibility (described at W4A 2006) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Applies previous work to new ‘edge case’ of culture on the Web (described at W4A 2007) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Introduces a Stakeholder Model to help ensure sustainability of approaches to accessibility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Compares old and new approaches to Web accessibility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Proposes ‘Accessibility 2.0’ as term to describe approach which builds on WAI’s successes </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. W4A 2005: Reprise <ul><li>At W4A 2005 we presented “ Forcing Standardization or Accommodating Diversity… ”: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The practical difficulties of using a “standard” to encapsulate design requirements to accommodate a diverse set of needs under a diverse set of circumstances and contexts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The achievements and limitations of WCAG in supporting this </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The resultant difficulties (and absurdities) from legislation and policy – that makes inappropriate reference to WCAG </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Using the example of the e-learning sector we pointed the way to a more holistic view of Web accessibility </li></ul></ul><ul><li>We received many positive comments on the ideas we presented </li></ul>WAI’s Limitations
  4. 4. Limitations of the WAI Model <ul><ul><li>WAI model relies on conformant Web sites, conformant authoring tools, conformant user agents </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… and conformant users! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A common complaint of “standardistas” – “ the user needs to take responsibility… ” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>There is value in this argument – but there are practical shortcomings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And user technophobia/laziness/lethargy is only one obstacle </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How many users know they are “disabled”? </li></ul></ul></ul>WAI’s Limitations Also note importance of evidence-based research . Various UK accessibility studies seem to find that lack of evidence of accessibility of Web sites for PWDs and conformance with WCAG guidelines!
  5. 5. The SiteMorse Simplicities <ul><li>SiteMorse’s automated tool showed poor WCAG compliance across several well-known UK disability organisations. </li></ul><ul><li>The responses from the disability organisations belittled the findings of automated tools and give a much greater emphasis of testing by users. </li></ul>TechDis News Item, Jan 2005 WebExact (Bobby) shows problems WAI’s Limitations <ul><li>If disability bodies find compliance with guidelines difficult does this mean: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They don’t care about accessibility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Accessibility is hard & costly </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The guidelines have flaws </li></ul></ul><ul><li>(and note legal ramifications if an inaccessible Web site cites such data in their defence) </li></ul>
  6. 6. The Importance of Context <ul><ul><li>We argue Web accessibility is about supporting users achieve real world goals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>From Beyer & Holzblatt (1998) – the more you know about your target audience the more you can design to support them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>So the goal of “universal accessibility” has changed to supporting a defined set of users in the best possible way… </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How can we use WCAG to achieve this? </li></ul></ul>WAI’s Limitations Note in the UK ‘widening participation’ seems to be preferred to ‘universal accessibility’ – with the latter sometimes leading to universal inaccessibility (“we can’t use JavaScript so we’ll not allow anyone to gain benefits it can provide”  )
  7. 7. Holistic Approach <ul><li>Kelly, Phipps & Swift developed a blended approach to e-learning accessibility </li></ul><ul><li>This approach: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focusses on the needs of the learner </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Requires accessible learning outcomes , not necessarily e-learning resources </li></ul></ul>Follow-up work awarded prize for Best Research Paper at ALT-C 2005 E-learning conference Holistic Approach This approach reflects emphasis in UK on blended learning (rather than e-learning)
  8. 8. Application To Culture <ul><li>Accessibility for information / factual resources is easy(ish) </li></ul><ul><li>Accessibility for edge cases including learning, culture, research, gaming, communications, assertion of identity (teenagers on MySpace), …: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More challenging </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Needed to allow providers of Web-based cultural services to enhance accessibility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Generic model will provide broader framework for variety of Web uses </li></ul></ul>Holistic Approach
  9. 9. Universal Accessibility? Normal Cancer Man against snow, Austrian Tirol 1974, reproduced with permission of the photographer: Professor Paul Hill The Great Masturbator by Salvador Dali (1929) The Duck-Rabbit CRAFT BREWERY Holistic Approach
  10. 10. Articulating the Approach <ul><li>The &quot;Tangram Metaphor“ (Sloan et al , W4A 2006) developed to avoid checklist / automated approach: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>W3C model has limitations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Jigsaw model implies single solution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tangram model seeks to avoid such problems </li></ul></ul><ul><li>This approach: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Encourages developers to think about a diversity of solutions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus on 'pleasure' it provides to user </li></ul></ul>Holistic Approach
  11. 11. Tangram Model & Testability <ul><li>&quot;WCAG 2.0 success criteria are written as testable statements …&quot; (nb. automated & human testing  ) </li></ul><ul><li>Issues: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What about WCAG principles that don't have defined success criteria (e.g. &quot;content must be understandable&quot;)? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What about 'baselines' – context only known locally </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What about differing models or / definitions of 'accessibility'? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Note vendors of accessibility testing services will market WCAG tools e.g. see posting on BSI PAS 78 </li></ul><ul><li>Tangram model can be used within WCAG </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Distinguish between testable (ALT tags) and subjective (content understandable) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Supports baselines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discussions with developers on prioritisation of automated testing </li></ul></ul>Baseline 1 Testable Holistic Approach
  12. 12. Tangram Model <ul><li>Model allows us to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focuses on end solution rather than individual components </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provided solutions tailored for end user </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Doesn't limit scope (can you do better than WAI AAA?) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use automated checking – but ensures emphasis is on user satisfaction </li></ul></ul>Note that similar moves to modularity are the norm in many W3C standards <ul><li>Guidelines/standards for/from: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>WAI </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Usability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organisational </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dyslexic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learning difficulties </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Legal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Management (resources, …) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interoperability (e.g. HTML validity) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Accessibility metadata </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mobile Web </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Stakeholder Model <ul><li>Common approach: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus on Web author </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sometimes user involved </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sometimes led by policy-makers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>This approach: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Often results in lack of sustainability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Web accessibility regarded as ‘techie’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not integrated with wider accessibility issues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not integrated with training, development, … </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Priorities not negotiated with others </li></ul></ul><ul><li>There’s a need to integrate approaches to accessibility more closely with (diversity of) service providers </li></ul>
  14. 14. Repositories – Case Study <ul><li>Discussion on repositories list: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Why PDFs of research papers? What about accessibility? ” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Important battle is open access. Let’s not add extra complexities. ” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>My response: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Open access is important (and PDF is easy) but let’s also: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Engage with various stakeholders (incl. publishers) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Develop (holistic) policies </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Explore other options to enhance accessibility </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And I found Scribd – a Web 2.0 services which creates MP3 from MS Word/PDF: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Enhanced accessibility from MS Word master & Flash interface </li></ul></ul></ul>
  15. 15. The Cathedral & The Bazaar 2.0 Blended learning E-learning Focus on the journey Clear destination (AAA) Accessibility as a process Accessibility as a thing Social model Medical model Accessibility as a bazaar Accessibility as a cathedral Context to testing Objective testing Blended solutions IT solution Testing in context Remote testing Rapid response Slow-moving Variety of solutions Single solution Devolved Centralised Proposed Approach Traditional WAI Approach
  16. 16. Accessibility 2.0 <ul><li>Need to build on WAI’s successes, whilst articulating a more sophisticated approach. Accessibility 2.0: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>User-focussed : It’s about satisfying user’s needs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rich set of stakeholders : More than the author and the user </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Always beta : Accessibility is hard, so we’re continually learning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Flexibility : There’s not a single solution for all use cases </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Diversity : There’s also diversity in society’s views on accessibility (e.g. widening participation, not universal accessibility) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blended solutions : Focus on ‘accessibility’ and not just ‘Web accessibility’ </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. The Legal Framework <ul><li>This approach is well-suited for the UK legal framework: </li></ul><ul><li>SENDA/DDA legislation requires &quot; organisations to take reasonable measures to ensure people with disabilities are not discriminated against unfairly &quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Note that the legislation is: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Technologically neutral </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Backwards and forwards compatible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Avoids version control complexities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The legislation also covers usability, as well as accessibility </li></ul></ul>Other country’s legislation also talks about ‘reasonable measures’
  18. 18. Our Next Steps <ul><li>Accessibility Summit II: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Held at JISC TechDis offices, York in Nov 2006 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>19 invited accessibility researchers, practitioners & policy makers in HE, public sector & disability support organisations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Agreement on various concerns of WAI’s approach </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recommendation to develop roadmap: more research, evidence-gathering, engagement, … </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Museums and Web 2007 Professional Forum: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>50+ participants at international conference in April </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Further agreement on need to build richer approaches to accessibility for cultural heritage orgs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Accessibility 2.0 term added to Museums Wiki </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. The Good News <ul><li>Our approaches have helped inform WCAG 2.0 developments </li></ul><ul><li>WCAG 2.0: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Technology neutral </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Based on four key principles (normative) (POUR): </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Perceivable  Operable </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Understandable  Robust </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Separate (informative) guidelines for HTML </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reflects out holistic approaches </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The challenges: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Providing a context outside of the principles e.g. “ Super Cali go ballistic, Celtic are atrocious ” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Testing in context • Commissioning </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Conclusions <ul><li>To conclude: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>WAI has provided a valuable starting point </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Need to develop a richer underlying model </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Need for Web accessibility to be placed in wider content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>There's a need to an evidence-based approach and less ideology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Contextual approach & tangram metaphor aim to help inform such developments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Accessibility 2.0 term can articulate a renewed approach </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Questions <ul><li>Questions are welcome </li></ul>