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From Web Accessibility to Web Adaptability

Rehearsal of a talk on "From Web Accessibility to Web Adaptability" given at Techshare 2009 conference on 17 September 2009.


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From Web Accessibility to Web Adaptability

  1. 1. From Web Accessibility to Web Adaptability Techshare 2009 conference, 17 September 2009 Brian Kelly 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, etc. is permitted providing distractions to others is minimised. Tag for ‘ techshare-2009 ' Email: [email_address] Twitter: Blog:
  2. 2. About This Talk <ul><li>This talk: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reviews limitations of WAI’s approaches to ‘universal accessibility’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Describes development of a holistic approach to accessibility, developed for learning and cultural heritage contexts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Introduces recent work on bringing previous work together under ‘Web Adaptability’ framework </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Argues importance of adaptability in today’s economic climate – mandating ‘universal accessibility’ can lead to services not being developed at all </li></ul></ul>Introduction
  3. 3. Definition <ul><li>“ All people are disabled in some circumstances … disability is a social construct not an attribute of an individual. In particular, resource accessibility is an attribute of the matching, or otherwise, of a resource to a user’s individual needs and preferences, not an attribute of a resource ” </li></ul><ul><li>(my emphasis) </li></ul>Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, United Nations. <>
  4. 4. The WAI Model <ul><li>WAI has been tremendously successful in raising awareness of Web accessibility and providing guidelines to achieve this. </li></ul><ul><li>WAI guidelines are based on: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>WCAG (Web Content …) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ATAG (Authoring Tools ..) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>UAAG (User Agents …) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Simple model to grasp. But is it appropriate for the future? Does it reflect: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Diversity of users & user environments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Diversity of Web usage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Real-world technical environment and developments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Real-world political, cultural & economic contexts </li></ul></ul>The Magic Formulae WAI Approach
  5. 5. Limitations Of The Model <ul><li>This model: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Requires all three components to be implemented in order for the WAI vision to be achieved </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is of limited use to end users who have no control over browser or authoring tools developments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is confusing – as many think WCAG is WAI </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How does this model address: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Delays in full conformance? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Real-world reluctance to deploy new software (issues of inertia, testing, costs, …) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Real world complexities </li></ul></ul>Is there a plan B in case this model fails to ever take off? Is it desirable to base legal requirements on an unproven theoretical framework? WAI Approach
  6. 6. WCAG Conformance <ul><li>Page authors can only follow WCAG guidelines. Several surveys carried out using automated tools (which gives upper limit on accessibility) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>DRC report, 2004: 19% A, 0.6% AA conformance based on 1,000 UK Web sites </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>UK Museums, Libraries and Archives report, 2004: 42% A, 3% AA conformance based on 124 Web sites </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>UK Universities surveys (UKOLN, 2002, 2004): 43%/58% A, 2%/6% AA based on 160+ Web sites </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Note that these figures aren’t of accessible Web site, only conformance with automated tests </li></ul><ul><li>Implications </li></ul><ul><li>These low conformance levels can indicate: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Organisations don't care </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Guidelines are difficult to implement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Guidelines are inappropriate, misleading, wrong, … </li></ul></ul>WAI Approach
  7. 7. WCAG 1.0 Difficulties <ul><li>Certain Priority 2 and 3 guidelines cause concerns: </li></ul><ul><li>11.1 Use W3C technologies when they are available and appropriate for a task ... </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Promotes own technologies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Appears to ignore major improvements in accessibility of non-W3C formats </li></ul></ul><ul><li>11.1 … and use the latest versions when supported </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Goes against project management guidelines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Logical absurdity: when XHTML 1 came out WAI AA HTML 4 compliant sites downgraded to A! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>3.2 Create documents that validate to published formal grammars </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dodgy HTML (<br />) can be rendered by browsers – this is an interoperability issue </li></ul></ul>WAI Approach
  8. 8. Confusion <ul><li>SiteMorse’s automated accessibility survey of UK disability organisations’ Web sites generated heated debate (Jan 2005) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>SiteMorse: Low WCAG conformance found: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Response: doesn’t matter, manual testing gives OK results </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What do such comments say about disability organisations’ views of WCAG ? </li></ul>Note that the RNIB have actively promote WCAG 1.0 guidelines – and also promote use of accessible Flash, without flagging any inconsistencies. WAI Approach
  9. 9. RNIB’s Alternative Approach <ul><li>“ Greenwood also said that there was &quot;no chance at all&quot; of all public sector websites achieving a Level AA rating by December 2009, as set out in 'Delivering inclusive web sites'. … </li></ul><ul><li>The RNIB … largely positive about the report's findings, claiming that the figures do not necessarily represent a widespread lack of accessibility. </li></ul><ul><li>… a new additional qualitative assessment system [commissioned by RNIB] …136 councils (33%) rated by RNIB as satisfactory or excellent [8% according to WCAG]” </li></ul><ul><li>e-Access Bulletin, March 2009 </li></ul>Alternative Approach
  10. 10. Nitpicking? <ul><li>“ This is just nit-picking! WCAG is valuable – don’t knock it! ” </li></ul><ul><li>WCAG is valuable, but we need to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Build a robust framework for the future </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reflect on experiences gained since 1999 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Avoid dangers of inappropriate case law being set </li></ul></ul>Nightmare Scenario Case taken to court in UK. Defence lawyers point out ambiguities & inconsistencies. Case lost, resulting in WCAG’s relevance being diminished. WAI Approach Today’s Scenario WCAG AA is too difficult to achieve so organisations fail to deploy Web solutions.
  11. 11. Holistic Approach <ul><li>Kelly, Phipps & Swift 1 developed a holistic framework for e-learning accessibility </li></ul><ul><li>The framework: </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>1 Developing A Holistic Approach For E-Learning Accessibility , Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 2004, Vol. 30, Issue 3 An Alternative Approach This approach reflects an emphasis on blended learning (rather than just e-learning)
  12. 12. Previous Work (1) <ul><li>Following on from first paper, a framework for applying WCAG in the real world (of flawed browsers, limited resources, etc) described at W4A 2005. </li></ul>e.g. WAI model flawed due to poor take-up of ATAG & UAAG, so need for pragmatic advice
  13. 13. Previous Work (2) <ul><li>Application of our work in a wider context (e.g. cultural resources) described at W4A 2007. </li></ul><ul><li>Paper: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Prioritised people, policies & processes, rather than the resources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Introduced the stakeholder model </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Coined the term ‘ Accessibility 2.0 ’ to describe this approach </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Universal Accessibility? Normal Cancer The Great Masturbator by Salvador Dali (1929) The Duck-Rabbit CRAFT BREWERY
  15. 15. WAI Limitations <ul><li>Limitations of WAI guidelines have been acknowledged (my emphasis): </li></ul>“ However, we recognize that standards are slow, and technology evolves quickly in the commercial marketplace. Innovation brings new customers and solidifies relationships with existing customers; Web 2.0 innovations also bring new types of professionals to the field, ones who care about the new dynamic medium. As technologies prove themselves, standardizing brings in the universality of the benefit, but necessarily follows this innovation. Therefore, this paper acknowledges and respects Web 2.0, discussing the issues and real world solutions.” Accessibility of Emerging Rich Web Technologies: Web 2.0 and the Semantic Web . Cooper, M. W4A 2007 An Alternative Approach
  16. 16. WCAG In Context <ul><li>WCAG 2.0 states that Web resources must be: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Perceivable • Operable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Understandable • Robust </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But this should apply after we’ve decided what our purposes our, rather than constraining what we can or can’t do: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Super Cally Go Ballistic, Celtic Are Atrocious ”: Not universally understandable , now universally accessible, culturally-specific … but witty </li></ul></ul>Legislation: “take reasonable measure ..” Is bankrupting your company reasonable? Is failing to satisfy your user community reasonable? Is not providing resources reasonable? <ul><li>And the relevance of ATAG to authors is questionable: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Flash, PDF, MS Word, … Are these formats essential to your corporate infrastructure and workflow? What does a ATAG-conformant PDF authoring tool mean? </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Second Life <ul><li>A video clip shows Judith, a user with cerebral palsy, using Second Life with a headwand. </li></ul>“ Do you think that this will be a really useful tool for people who are unable to get around, who have problems of mobility in real life? ” “ Yes, because you can have friends without having to go out and physically find them ”. The danger is that organisations will ban SL as they feel if fails to comply with accessibility guidelines. Accessibility 2.0
  18. 18. 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 just a single solution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Diversity : There is diversity in society’s views of 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>Accessibility 2.0 An Alternative Approach
  19. 19. Accessible Web in Context Web WCAG+ATAG+UAAG= universal accessibility The Pixel of Perfection WAI <ul><ul><li>Motherhood and apple pie? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Demonstrably flawed after 10 years e.g. Lilley: “ 99.99999% of the Web was invalid HTML. W3C pretended that didn’t exist. ” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>So 99.9999% of Web isn’t WCAG AA conformant! </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>Kevin Kelly </li></ul>
  21. 21. A Fresh Look At Accessibility <ul><li>We acknowledge that: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not everything on the Web will ever be accessible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Accessibility may not cross cultural, linguistic, national and discipline boundaries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An individual does not need a universally accessible resource; rather s/he wants a resource which is accessible to them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Different communities may have different needs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Same person may have different needs at different times and places </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Let’s not talk about the accessibility of a resource </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We find the term ‘ inclusivity ’ and ‘ inclusive approaches ’ more useful than ‘ accessible to people with disabilities ’ </li></ul></ul>An Alternative Approach
  22. 22. Web Adaptability <ul><li>Term which acknowledges such diversity: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Solutions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Policies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Definitions of disability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stakeholders and their varied requirements, priorities, … </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Change: policies, learning, evidence, … </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Need for adaptability : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Policy makers, trainers, authors : Yesterday JavaScript and proprietary formats were ‘banned’. Today they’re permitted. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Legislators : Yesterday all Government Web site had to comply with WCAG 1.0. Today the same is true, as it takes years to change legislation. </li></ul></ul>Web Adaptability
  23. 23. Putting The User First <ul><li>The way we were: </li></ul>The rules The solution The user Example “ UK Government requires all government Web sites to comply with WCAG AA” Web Adaptability The context The user Optimal solution The guidelines Where we should be: <ul><li>Example </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Involve user in design process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recognise the context </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Then seek to apply guidelines </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Web Adaptability Framework <ul><li>The framework embraces: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The intended use of the service </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The intended audience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The available resources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Technical innovations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organisational policies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Definitions of accessibility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… </li></ul></ul>Alternative to a one-size-fit-all approach To avoid adaptability meaning doing whatever you fancy (e.g. IE-only sites) the adaptation needs to be implemented with context of a legal framework, reasonable measures, reputation management, social responsibility, … Web Adaptability
  25. 25. Who’s Using These Approaches? (1) <ul><li>Public library example: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Talk at national Public Library event (May 2004) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ And here’s a Flash-based game we’ve developed. Easy to do, and the kids love it” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ What about accessibility?” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Oh, er. We’ll remove it before the new legislation becomes into force” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Blended approach: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ What’s the purpose of the game?” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ To keep kids amused for 10 mins, while parents get books” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ How about building blocks or a bouncy castle as an alternative? This is an alternative approach to problem, which doesn’t focus on disabilities” </li></ul></ul>Web Adaptability
  26. 26. Who’s Using These Approaches? (2a) <ul><li>Tate’s i-Map project: early example of an award-winning approach to providing access to paintings for visual impaired users </li></ul>Note this work was described in an award-winning paper on “ Implementing A Holistic Approach To E-Learning Accessibility ” paper by Kelly, Phipps and Howell (ALT-C, 2005) <ul><ul><li>It used Flash … </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… to allow users to ‘participate’ in the creation of the painting </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Who’s Using These Approaches? (2b) <ul><li>I-Map project also used a blended approach, through provision of access to raised images </li></ul>
  28. 28. Who’s Using These Approaches? (3) <ul><li>Wolverhampton Art Gallery are using a user-focused development approach to providing access to information about Bantcock House </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Yes, it uses YouTube </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Deaf users involved in design processes (e.g. benefits of signers in context of museum) </li></ul></ul>
  29. 29. Who’s Using These Approaches? (4a) <ul><li>Videoing and audio recording and publishing is now cheap due to consumer products, network effect, ... </li></ul><ul><li>Is it better to publish the video & audio now: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Enhances impact or ides & diversity enriches access </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Without resource, won’t be able to exploit future technological innovation, crowd-sourcing, … </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Or suppress publication as this can infringe WCAG? </li></ul>Web Adaptability
  30. 30. Who’s Using These Approaches? (4b) <ul><li>Slidecast (slides and synched audio) of rehearsal of this talk </li></ul><ul><li>Benefits: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Backup in case I lose my voice, travel delays, … </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Delegates can view after event </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can be shared with others </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Richer than slides on their own </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enhances accessibility </li></ul></ul>But (a) no text transcript and (b) not WCAG compliant. So delete in order to achieve maximum WCAG-rating?
  31. 31. A Challenge For You! <ul><li>You have: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>An institutional repository </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An open access policy, which encourages take-up by others of your research reports and data & teaching & learning resources </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Research papers are in non-conformant PDFs & learning resources are mostly PowerPoints & other proprietary formats. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What do you do: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mandate use of HTML in repositories? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Switch off services until workflow issues resolved? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Or something else? </li></ul></ul>Web Adaptability
  32. 32. Conclusions <ul><li>There’s a need: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For accessibility researchers & policy makers to gather evidence on proposed solutions to accessibility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To explore ways in which changes in our understandings can be adopted and deployed </li></ul></ul><ul><li>This talk: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Explores limitations of current approaches </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Suggests alternative approaches </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Future work: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Need to critique the critique </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Need to develop better models for change control </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Need to learn from the past </li></ul></ul>
  33. 33. Questions <ul><li>Questions are welcome </li></ul>