The way we use the technology determines its accessibility support

Remember these categorical clauses? ‘Don’t do your web in Flash because it will not be accessible’ or ‘Avoid PDF, because a blind person won’t be capable to read it’. Industries participant in the redaction of the new guidelines have adopted a tougher line protecting their products from legal barriers. So that’s why there is no mention to which technology is accessible and which not, because it depends on the way that they are used. E.G. You can use plain, strict XHTML but it is not well formatted, it wont be accessible. But if you create your website with Flash and all the accessibility features on, it will be accessible.

That undefined situation makes that the W3C stands on a neutral position about technology, but not about its use.

Problems attached to this neutrality are:

  • they cannot specify which or how much support there must be for a particular use of a Web technology to be classified as accessibility supported
  • you can use web technologies in an un-accessible way, but you must provide an accessible alternative version
  • You can use a technology in an accessibility support way, but it don’t imply that all uses of that technology or all the versions of that technology are supported

Remember that we can only audit complete webpages, not technologies.

Technology Uses List

Unfortunately, we must trust on anyone (individuals, companies, universities, vendors…) who document accessibility supported uses. The only requisite is to meet the definition of accessibility support. In any case, an individual author won’t be able to test all the possible uses, so there will exist scattered documentation all over the web. And even worst, nobody will be capable to test all that tests. Can you imagine the lack of security this involves? The only thing that WAI warns is that

The Working Group anticipates that only documents that provide accurate information and benefit both authors and users will achieve market recognition in the long term.

If you want to create your own list, follow the instructions provided in Documenting Accessibility Support for Uses of a Web Technology

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