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  1. #1
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    Differing preferences

    OK, have been lurking a bit while I finished off my degree which I just graduated from!

    Anyway...

    Throughout this topic, there is a clear differences on opinion with a clash between looks and acceptance. I.e. what the designer thinks looks good and what actually works for accessible design (underlined links vs bold ones).

    Something I have been giving thought to is the design of a site structure that allows via the detection of the browser the switching on/off of such features as underlines on links where colour is used.

    Such a design would allow the site to continue to be visually appealling but not affect the accessibility. The main problem here would be around the design of the site or whether a tool to create the neccessary code would be more suitable.

    Only a bit of out load thinking, but maybe some comments people?

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    you can do that sort of thing very easily with switchable stylesheets (preferably of the "non-javascript" variety, where a server-side language actually writes out the relevant <link rel...> for the user's preference settings). although users of good browsers (read: non-IE) can for the most part define custom styles to override a page's styles already...but yes, it's still nice to offer that kind of customisation.
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    Controlling output using a browser is all very well (and in some peoples cases a useful feature), but as a developer I would want people to see the site how I designed it.

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    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inspire
    Controlling output using a browser is all very well (and in some peoples cases a useful feature), but as a developer I would want people to see the site how I designed it.
    Why? If they are visually impaired it won't matter anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Inspire
    as a developer I would want people to see the site how I designed it.
    i would actually rephrase that..."as a designer I would want people to see the site how I designed it" and then add to it ", but as a developer I would want the maximum number of people to be able to use the site, access its content, etc"...but yeh, that's me...
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    and btw: with the idea outlined above (server-side style switching with user preferences - set via cookie, for instance) you can have both...make two styles, a "designer" one, and an "accessible" one. as default, the first time someone visits, it can have the "designer" one, but if they choose to, users can switch to "accessible". set the cookie, and next time the same user comes around, the site displays in "accessible" style. voila'
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    but seriously design and accessibility are not incompatible... we just need to design for this medium rather than either print, or the illusion of everyone having the same spec machine and eyes etc...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicky D
    Why? If they are visually impaired it won't matter anyway.
    Not all of us are visually impaired though...

    Also there is the legal aspect. Take SOCOG vs Maguire (Sydney Olympics case) for example: Maguire successfuly sued SOCOG for damages and to re-design their site to make it accessible. This begins to set a legal precedent for required accessibility.

    Where should it apply to though? An art gallery for example, displaying pictures online would not be that useful to a visually impaired user, so should we still design the site so that it can be used by a visually impaired user (by V.I. I mean blind).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Inspire
    Not all of us are visually impaired though...
    exactly. so the non-impaired can see the nice designed stylesheet site, whereas the visually impaired users can choose to go for the more accessible stylesheet (e.g. bigger text, more contrast between foreground/background colours, etc)

    Where should it apply to though? An art gallery for example, displaying pictures online would not be that useful to a visually impaired user, so should we still design the site so that it can be used by a visually impaired user (by V.I. I mean blind).
    (emphasis mine)

    well, if all the gallery page is doing is purely displaying just the picture, you may be right. however, who's to say that visually impaired users may not benefit from a description of a painting/work of art ? if the gallery site offers a lot of resources (e.g. "virtual tours" of an artist's life, comparisons between paintings, etc), the argument of "visually impaired users won't need it / be interested in it" wears a tad thin.
    Off Topic:


    to get off on a tangent, a little anecdote: i know a 100% blind student who's doing a degree in dentistry, with the aim of getting into dental research at the end of it. sure, he can't do certain parts of the course (the ones involving drills and people's teeth, for instance ), but nevertheless he's allowed on the course and given full access to all other material.
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    I think the argument regarding a gallery/paintings is a good one and one I've had before with a non-believer! My opinion is that we should offer alternatives to the visually impaired. Good descriptions for example of images would not only be useful to the visually impaired but also to "normal" people. I just don't think we should make assumptions about groups of society and concentrate more on ensuring our site is accessible and useable as possible. Anything else is just lazyiness in my honest opinion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daz
    ...non-believer! ...
    Hey, I'm not a non-believer, just a pragmatist.

    When I was doing my HND which included a web-site design module, web accessibility was not even approached. Surely it would be best to teach budding designers (some persons of the course were novices with grand ideas) accessible design from the start - Start as you mean to go on...

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    I agree with you entirely as I also believe most of accessible web design to be nothing more than good practice. Unfortunately what you have are lecturers/tutors stuck in the dark ages where frames rock and FrontPage themes are cutting edge.

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    I beg to differ!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daz
    I think the argument regarding a gallery/paintings is a good one and one I've had before with a non-believer! My opinion is that we should offer alternatives to the visually impaired. Good descriptions for example of images would not only be useful to the visually impaired but also to "normal" people. I just don't think we should make assumptions about groups of society and concentrate more on ensuring our site is accessible and useable as possible. Anything else is just lazyiness in my honest opinion.
    I also think we should offer alternatives, I just don't think we should be required to by law!

    I also don't think a statue in a park should have a speaker attached to it that has to play a description everytime someone comes near.

    I also don't think we should be forbidden from cooking with wheat because some people are allergic and can't eat food with wheat.

    Most might think those are two silly examples, but I personally think that being required to annotate a pice of visual art for the sightless is also silly.

    We should make things as accessible as possible, but I know the realities of budgets in most modern websites and I think having twice the content accessible if not totally annotaed and described is better than only having half the content but totally accessible.
    Basically I am against making the majority 'suffer' for the sake of the minority. I know it doesn't have to be that way, BUT I'm just saying that we shouldn't forget the main audience in our quest to be accessible

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    Quote Originally Posted by pissant
    ...but I personally think that being required to annotate a pice of visual art for the sightless is also silly.
    Art tends to convey a message, not just a pretty picture. The same is for web-sites. Take the Shell website for example (http://www.shell.com) - it clearly conveys the companies corporate identity. By changing the colour of the background (say to white), you lose much of the experience & identity of that site although a white background is better for contrast between it & the text.

    Design can not just be a matter of what is totally accessible, but what conveys the message as well.

    Going back to the art again, different people have different interpretations of what a piece of art is trying to portray. By having a single textual/audio description, then you are imposing your views on other people.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicky D
    I beg to differ! [img]images/smilies/smile.gif[/img]
    Speaks a new age lecturer?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Inspire
    Going back to the art again, different people have different interpretations of what a piece of art is trying to portray. By having a single textual/audio description, then you are imposing your views on other people.
    Then perhaps a compromise is to offer information on the name of the painting and the artist.

    I think another very valid point is being missed here as we discuss accessibility and that an accessible site should also be more future proof and search engine friendly. Take two pages with nothing but images. You can be sure the one with good alts will be listed higher than the page without.

    I don't really get Pissant's point of budgets. A web developer who has good awareness of web accessibility shouldn't take much longer to develop a site that's conforms to WAI guidelines than a web developer who has no knowledge. If they are on the learning curve then I do not think that expense for their extra time required as it were, should rest with the company.

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    The web-site budget should include the time & resources required to make the site accessible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daz
    I don't really get Pissant's point of budgets. A web developer who has good awareness of web accessibility shouldn't take much longer to develop a site that's conforms to WAI guidelines than a web developer who has no knowledge. If they are on the learning curve then I do not think that expense for their extra time required as it were, should rest with the company.
    The thing is that I'm not talking about the easy trivial stuff, of skip navigation, clean markup, alt tags and the rest. For a professional these days these should be part of the whole process. I'm talking about beyond that, someone earlier was talking about link underlines and such, and how you ought to have them or something similar to assist some users who may not be able to see difference colours etc...

    At a very basic level this sounds fine, but then what if we start to leave out animation because some may not be able to understand it, well on many sites that might be a good thing, but on many others suddenly the experience for most suffers because of few.

    OK, went off on a tangent there... but the stuff I am talking about accessibility-wise is not a few lines more or less of code, it is copywriting, meetings, client sign offs, multiple versions of things, and/or big compromises...

    Thus budgets!
    I don't know where you work, but I have to leap through three hoops just to change an alt tag...

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    Ok I see where you're coming from now. I work in NI Gov by the way and pretty much any accessibility stuff "built" on to a site is all off my own back though in the next 10 months or so we will have a best practice guide in place.

    Back to your point, I think what needs to be hit home here is how vital these things are to any site. I suppose at the end of the day as a developer all you can do is make people aware, if they choose to ignore and go their own route then it's up to you to carry on working for them or not take on the project. I am of course talking about a freelance scenario here!

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    Quote Originally Posted by pissant
    I also think we should offer alternatives, I just don't think we should be required to by law!
    ok, first of all let's focus this discussion...the Disabilities Discrimination Act applies to discrimination by employers, provision of goods, facilities and services, education and public transport (to bluntly simplify http://www.hmso.gov.uk/acts/acts1995/1995050.htm ).
    it does not really cover anybody's little portfolio site, their little flash experiments page, their blog (unless it's an essential source of information in relation to anything that clearly falls under the DDA...e.g.: a lecturer's blog, where he/she puts up additional information for students. because DDA applies to education, the blog needs to be accessible, as otherwise students with disabilities will find themselves at an unfair disadvantage compared to their peers, and the edutor is effectively discriminating against them).
    the law does not (at this stage, and probably never will) state that EVERY website needs to be accessible. and hell, if you really can't make your page accessible, you can provide a non-web-related alternative (e.g. a real-life telephone operator), as long as the service is exactly the same (e.g. you can't have web-only cheap offers that are not available via phone, as you would be discriminating against users that can't access the inaccessible website).

    also bear in mind that the law is not a black/white affair. each case is carefully considered, as in many instances it's not clear cut. e.g. the art gallery site that's not accessible...why isn't it ? is the site completely inaccessible (e.g. you can't even get opening times etc from the site if you've got a disability), or is it just the actual pictures ?


    I also don't think a statue in a park should have a speaker attached to it that has to play a description everytime someone comes near.
    read my first paragraph in this post. does the statue fall under the DDA ? thought so...it's therefore a ludicrous argument. IF however the statue was an essential part of, say, an art history course at a university, the uni needs to ensure that alternative descriptions/explanations are available. maybe not directly attached to the statue, but available on request. (e.g. ever noticed that when you get certain literature - for instance a university prospectus - you get a notice saying "also available as audio tape, braille, whatever on request" ? same thing).

    I also don't think we should be forbidden from cooking with wheat because some people are allergic and can't eat food with wheat.
    hmm...let me just quote you here again for a second
    Quote Originally Posted by pissant
    I also think we should offer alternatives
    . your analogy is false. nobody would forbid you from cooking with wheat...however, they'd insist that you do offer alternatives for those who can't eat wheat. otherwise you'd be discriminating against people allergic to wheat. thoughts of school dinners and vegetarian options spring to mind...

    Most might think those are two silly examples, but I personally think that being required to annotate a pice of visual art for the sightless is also silly.
    again, being required only if it falls under the DDA. and yes, it would be difficult for something like a purely abstract image...but nevertheless, you can strive to make an objective description of the piece, rather than an interpretation of its meaning.

    Basically I am against making the majority 'suffer' for the sake of the minority.
    i've never seen anybody suffer when coming onto an accessible site. again, let's not perpetuate the myth that "accessible equals boring, bland sites". particularly with xhtml+css and structural markup, it's easy to separate content and presentation. you can go wild presentation wise, but still ensure that - with styles disabled - the content is completely accessible.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by pissant
    someone earlier was talking about link underlines and such, and how you ought to have them or something similar to assist some users who may not be able to see difference colours etc...
    again, simple stylesheet switching/disabling can already solve this issue. heck, two stylesheets people...it's not rocket surgery.

    At a very basic level this sounds fine, but then what if we start to leave out animation because some may not be able to understand it
    you don't have to...that's what longdesc is for. this also benefits non-impaired users (e.g. text transcripts of video files...saves you typing up a speech, for instance. or how about google ? it can't understand video/flash/etc, but if you provide a longdesc, your page can be indexed as well...)

    I don't know where you work, but I have to leap through three hoops just to change an alt tag...
    where i work my employers respect the fact that i probably know more about accessibility and the DDA/SENDA requirements than they do...so they let me get on with it and provide me with the resources i deem necessary to save their *** from a potential lawsuit and ensuing bad press...
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  23. #23
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    slight off topic, but
    Off Topic:

    another example i just thought of to reinforce the idea of when the DDA applies, and when it doesn't...

    physical access to buildings. wheelchair ramps etc. sure, architects (just like the web designers now) were up in arms about the requirements. what, EVERY building needs to be accessible ? not quite. only public buildings. nobody has to retrofit their little terraced, semi-detached house to meet physical access regulations.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by redux
    again, simple stylesheet switching/disabling can already solve this issue. heck, two stylesheets people...it's not rocket surgery.



    you don't have to...that's what longdesc is for. this also benefits non-impaired users (e.g. text transcripts of video files...saves you typing up a speech, for instance. or how about google ? it can't understand video/flash/etc, but if you provide a longdesc, your page can be indexed as well...)

    where i work my employers respect the fact that i probably know more about accessibility and the DDA/SENDA requirements than they do...so they let me get on with it and provide me with the resources i deem necessary to save their *** from a potential lawsuit and ensuing bad press...
    again redux we work in different arenas...
    While style sheet switching might be a viable solution, I often have to deliver pixel perfect designs... so offering a complete different design, would be problematic at best.
    As for longdesc and transcripts of video...
    well it is hard enough to get the content I can get now, and a text transcript of a TVC (or even banner add) would often make very little sense without someone also writing descriptions etc...
    Sadly also most clients and even employers of mine don't even know of the existence of any accessibility laws (but then I am in Australia, and there aren't any specific laws here yet).

    The way I currently treat accessibilty is to give the client basic level one accessibility as a fait accompli. They get that even if they say "no don't worry about that."

    Y'know I am gonna go back a little on my earlier statement about legally requiring sites to be accessible, I think site owners should be encouraged (through tax breaks if necessary) to be fully accessible. Probably that idea is unworkable but hell, it is after midnight


    as for my earlier examples...
    A few years ago when I lived in Wellington NZ, the local bus company decided to replace all their buses. They made a big thing about it and shared their progress of picking the new buses (marketing people have such ideas). So they picked their new buses, ordered them, paid deposits and stuff, then an action group sued them to cancel that order and get those kneeling buses...
    cool, that's fair enough I suppose. But the bus company was going to lose millions if they cancelled the first order and changed it so they offered the action group a fleet of dedicated free minivans for disabled people. This was rejected. Upshot... well everybody in the city got nice new kneeling buses, and a very hefty rise in fares.
    What has this to do with anything?
    maybe nothing, but this is the kind of situation I would hate to see happening to the web design world.

    ok, so I've typed too much again! Basically I just wanted to say that while we must support all users, we don't want to spend all our resources on any one section of that audience, or at least not out of all proportion.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by pissant
    then an action group sued them to cancel that order and get those kneeling buses...
    cool, that's fair enough I suppose. But the bus company was going to lose millions if they cancelled the first order and changed it so they offered the action group a fleet of dedicated free minivans for disabled people. This was rejected. Upshot... well everybody in the city got nice new kneeling buses, and a very hefty rise in fares.
    although i can't blame the action group, as the bus company should have added accessibility considerations into their original purchase spec, i don't think this would happen in terms of legislation such as the DDA. the DDA clearly specifies that companies etc are required to make "reasonable adjustments" in order to be compliant. now, as always, the term "reasonable" is nicely fluffy, and will have to be decided by precedent court cases...however, i would argue that the bus company's offer to get a dedicated fleet of minivans could have been seen as a reasonable adjustment (providing that that fleet would offer the same level and frequency of service as the "normal" bus fleet, and not some second class treatment). another possibility would have been to rework the pavement at bus stops (e.g. raise the height of the curb to be more level with the non-kneeling bus).
    but yeh, that's just me. a court would have to decide what is and isn't "reasonable" - and in many cases even what is "equivalent" alternative service...
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