[A11ybok] A (Hopefully Helpful) Step Back For Perspective & Clarity

Olivier Nourry olv.nourry at gmail.com
Fri Mar 16 17:07:05 EDT 2012

Hi Bill,

as the author of the blog post you quote, I feel it's up to me to clarify a
few things. :-) [smile]
Fortunately for me, Karl and then Sunshine have explained it with great
clarity and talent, so I won't paraphrase them, simply give some additional
context and explanation.
I never wrote, or even implied, that the WCAG aren't reliable. If it
appeared as such, then I apologize. It's important to note the AND
conjunctions in the statement: "we need a reliable [AND] comprehensive AND
easy to consume [...] set of resources". I respect - no, I revere - the
WAI, if only for the fact that they make our lives so much easier. And yes,
they are the most reliable source of information we have. They should
always be the last resort whenever there's indecision. Yet, if they are
indeed comprehensive in some fields, it's not  true for every domain, as
Karl pointed out with the AT support example. And I wouldn't qualify them
as easy to use, although there has been noticeable improvements. But as
Sunshine demonstrated it, information architecture is definitely an issue
not so well addressed.

WAI material is great, but honestly, you can't just take it and start
coding. I see it like a medical thesaurus: you will find all you need to
know about pneumonia and small pox. But you can really use it only if you
already have a solid knowledge of the human body and the pharmacopea. Plus,
what are you supposed to do with a patient showing symptoms of pneumonia
*and* small pox? With a patient showing some symptoms that don't fall into
any category? Not all answers are in a standards body, and that's fine,
it's not made for that.

More focused resources are here to fill the gaps, and there are great ones
all over the Web. But there, reliability is a critical issue. I think one
of the worst things that could happen, would be to have one day the
equivalent of W3schools for accessibility: a bunch of resources plagued
with flaws, yet very popular, because they filled a gap, somehow, and
helped beginners a big deal. Try to google the name of any HTML element:
the W3schools entry is one of the very first results, which is a sure sign
of utter popularity. Let's not let that happen.

Another issue is completeness. The WCAG contain the atomic pieces of
knowledge, but it's not suited to presenting combinations of those atomic
elements - and again, that's not their purpose, so I'm fine with that. Some
of the most common questions I have to answer, as a consultant, are the
like of "is this Jquery widget accessible enough?" "I want to insert a
lightbox, how do I do that in an accessible way"?" "Which media player is
right?". I find myself doing the same kind of research again and again, and
now I have a solid base for my own needs, but I know it can be improved,
and that if it was a concerted effort, we would all save loads of time, and
avoid wastage of our clients money by reinventing the wheel, each one of us
in our corner of the world.

That's my motive behind this initiative, and I hope we'll see things moving
soon, and fast.

Thanks anyway for showing so much interest in this subject, it's already a
first step that needed be taken.

*Olivier Nourry*
Twitter: @OlivierNourry <http://twitter.com/#!/OlivierNourry>

Le 15 mars 2012 17:49, bill <bill at disability.org> a écrit :

> Hello,
> I've just subscribed to this list. Thanks for your efforts Karl.
> [ As a quick personal intro, my name is Bill Shackleton. I share info and
> resources on twitter under CRPDisabilities, and since leaving the computer
> industry for the disability field almost 30 years ago, I've been involved
> in a number of issues tackling a wide range of barriers. ]
> Unfortunately I missed this year's CSUN and although I've read the blog
> post and this list's archives, I still have a few questions and comments
> that might help me to fill in the blanks and/or foster some discussion in
> the spirit of your comment:
> "*Respectful disagreement is encouraged.  That's how consensus is achieved
> *."
> I'm responding to, and excerpting, comments from this list and the blog
> post but didn't catch who said what for citing sources.. except this, where
> the blog post begins:
> "*It is now a well-accepted assumption that, in order to move forward,
> accessibility needs a unified set of resources that would be reliable,
> comprehensive, and easy to consume for users of all levels of proficiency
> in accessibility. There have been many discussions around this idea for a
> while. Yet, so far, it does not exist*"
> I'm a little unclear about this. It seems that if we're talking about a
> reliable set of resources, then wouldn't that be found at
> http://www.w3.org/WAI? From THE authoritative and most reliable source
> (ie the standard itself), you can also find getting started guides, how
> people with disabilities use the web, corporate business case development
> tools, policies from governments around the world, etc. etc. ..and
> expressed for different audiences whether techie, policy wonk or business
> manager.
> As for specific in-and-out web developer questions, you can quickly filter
> the existing BoK by technology (flash, pdf, smil, css..), success criteria,
> and technique type at http://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG20/quickref
> "*The WAI material, despite their efforts to guide the newcomers, isn’t
> exactly appropriate for what I would call “occasional practitioners”. That
> is, people who punctually need to solve an accessibility issue, but don’t
> have the time or will to go through the painfully slow process of getting
> the whole picture*"
> In what way is it not appropriate? I suppose I need to understand more
> specifically. As noted above, no-one has to go through a 'slow process of
> getting the whole picture" at all. To 'punctually solve an accessibility
> issue' you can either go to your own quick reference tailored in 5 seconds
> to your own technical and policy environment (success criteria level),
> select to see every technique on one large page and search it for your
> specific issue, or use any of a number of other tools at your disposal on
> the WAI site.
> "*second order of business, IMO, should be for us to brainstorm*
> *funding opportunities.  This would also necessitate a discussion of*
> *scope, but I think both discussions probably should remain at a high*
> *level*. "
> There has already been considerable funding by organizations big (Google,
> Adobe, Microsoft,..) and small - including my own modest enterprise, ERamp,
> Inc. (http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/#acknowledgments) - to developing the
> standard and producing all of the resources, including what appears to be
> aimed at here.
> "*Regarding this list, specifically, I'd like to strongly discourage*
> *lurking*"
> Why? Is there an additional cost to this? I ask because, as you may know
> if you follow my CRPDisabilities twitter account, I default to open sharing
> of information unless there's a compelling reaon to lock something down. It
> seems to me that the more lurkers, the higher the probability of someone
> chiming in with a strond idea, excellent resource, etc.
> "*I said no to Wikipedia a few times, let me clear*
> *that up by saying, that having the final product would be a great*
> *idea. However, starting there is maybe not the best idea*"
> Why not? Although (unless convinced otherwise by responses to this email)
>  I believe that the single repository for A11yBoK should be - is - w3c/wai,
> I don't see any reason for not leveraging the powerful and effective
> wikipedia collaboration machinery for iterating up to the final product you
> envision.
> "*So, curation and collection of links are very useful, but we also need
> a significant effort in the production of resources, for all kinds of
> needs."*
> Could you please be more specific? What, exactly, are the resources that
> we need that aren't on WAI? I suspect that whatever they are has probably
> already been created based on a real need.. which comes back to curation.
> "*In addition to methodology, what would we like to accomplish, and by
> what date?*"
> I agree with this.. in fact, I'd want to know what we'd like to accomplish
> before thinking about methodology. I would suggest, as a clarifying
> exersize and a way forward that we do a simple subtraction:
> Clarified statement of precisely what problem is being addressed
> *Minus*
> Already existing resources on WAI to address this problem
> *Equals*
> Gap Analysis
> So far, as can be seen by my responses above, Gap Analysis = 0
> Once we get a clearer sense of the scope, quality and size of the gap
> (through our continuing discussions), THEN we could entertain options such
> as contributing to WAI to expand solutions, contributing to wikipedia to
> perhaps create a front-end ui pointing to existing BoK resources across the
> web, creating a federated solution, creating a permanent home, or some
> other ideas.. THEN look at whether, how much, and from where needed
> resources could be tapped.
> Hope this is seen as contributing discussion and movement, and not
> contrarian.
> Cheers
> Bill
> www.twitter.com/CRPDisabilities
> ==================================
> "We are called to be architects of the future..
>  Not its victims"            R. Buckminster Fuller
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