the-way-we-use-the-technology-determines-its-accessibility-support

Posted on January 30, 2020 Posted by

the-way-we-use-the-technology-determines-its-accessibility-support

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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the-way-we-use-the-technology-determines-its-accessibility-support

Posted on January 30, 2020 Posted by Victoria Brooks

which-technologies-are-accessibility-supported

Which technologies are ‘accessibility supported’?


At this point you will probably wonder which web technologies are accessibility supported and which are not. And the answer is… nobody knows, not even the WAI! Now, the consultancy best phrase: ‘it depends’. How is this possible after 5 years of  WCAG 2 developing? Well, some reasons for this vagueness.

  • How many user agents (including assistive technologies) must support a web technology to be considered as ‘accessibility supported’?
  • What if a web technology is supported in one environment and not in other? You may only need a particular user agent, or a combination of many?
  • Which languages and dialects must support the user agent to support web technologies? E.g. Screen readers may not understand ‘Chinese’  content at all.
  • Backwards compatibility? E.g. Imagine that 3D web navigation technologies arise. Old computers and software won’t be capable to show that content. But that is not an obstacle to consider that this 3D technology (maybe) is accessibility supported.
  • Unless you provide all your users with the proper user agent to display your content, there must be different options for the users to access to that content, particularly if they cannot afford assistive technology. Usually assistive technology is expensive and not everyone can afford them. Beside, free or lowcost assistive technology don’t have the same performance as expensive equipment.

So you can deduct that it is not easy to define which web technologies are accessibility supported and which are not. The WAI understand this problem and trust the community to select them. Yes, each company, government or  association can evaluate. So prepare yourself for a bunch of resolutions. As the WCAG 2 says:

this lack of generally available yet robust assistive technologies is a problem that affects users, technology developers and authors negatively.

In the next post we will explain how to reduce this uncertainty.

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