EOWG Minutes 04 Sep 2009


  1. Accessibility page for beta.w3.org - discuss any issues
  2. Business Case Appendix update (draft appendix page, parameters and process)
  3. EOWG F2F 2-3 November, Santa Clara, CA, USA, at the W3C TPAC 2009
    - Reminder registration fee will increase after 21 Sept
  4. W3C redesign - reminder to review and comment


Shawn, Sharron, William, Sylvie, Jack
Yeliz, Andrew, Helle, Alan, Liam


Accessibility page for beta.w3.org - discuss any issues

William: There is a long standing almost controversy within WAI whether we are allowed to talk about accessibility for everyone or to focus strictly on access on people with disabilities.
... if indeed the mission is an exclusive focus on disability, I feel strongly that it should shift. Historically people with disabilities have been excluded. We do not want to perpetuate that exclusion or that idea of separate treatment. Our message should be an inclusive message rather than exclusive.
... I perhaps went to far the other way in insisting on the terms of universality and ignoring disability altogether.
... I may have started the controversy. But while I understand the tension between the mission of universality and the focus of serving exclusively people with disabilities, I think it possible and prefereable to merge the two messages and make our mission inclusive.

Shawn: Yes, I agree this is at the heart of much of the recent discussions. I want to refer to one email in the thread, when we were exploring universality previously, there was strong push back.
... there was concern that the specific needs people with disabilities will get lost if the focus is made more broad.
... Clearly we are not going to change WAIs mission today, but this is good dialogue about thinking about the issue.
... Shadi noted that he liked the idea that the set-up is "the web must be accessible to everyone" and that it segues into issues for people with disabilities.

Sharron But the fact is that universailty is the umbrella, whether we say it or not. One of our messages has also always been that disability occurs on a spectrum - it's a continuum of ability. Our message is to insure that everyone on the continuum has access, has opportunity to particpate. WAIs focus is on disability because it is that group of people that is systematically excluded by inaccessible practice.
... and while I understand and empathize with the concern, I don't think there is really any serious risk of the needs of people with disabilities getting lost in WAI or W3C work. If we look at how the focus of WAI-AGE is slightly different, it has not diminished the focus on disability issues.

William: In addition to which, if we look Shadi's initial discomfort and subsequent re-wording, there seems to be no substantial difference that I can observe.

Shadi's email


Shawn: From Shadi's perspective, it is OK for the first sentence to set up the broad mission.
... the difference is the location of the phrase in the document - as a intro verses conculsion - and the use of the word "accessible."

William: How do we think that we get to define what the whole world thinks accessible means? We haven't been able to do that yet. The sentence Shadi is uncomfortable with seems spot-on to me.

Shawn: Will people be uncomfortable with the word usable -- because it't associated with "usability?" Could substitute the phrase "work for"?

William: We are choosing between usable by, works for, available to

<shawn> The web is designed to be available to all people...

<shawn> The Web is designed to be usable by all people

<shawn> The web is designed to work for all people

William: I like works for, but I defer to the editors, I see no important difference

<shawn> The web is fundamentally designed to work for all people

Sharron: likes usable by, but accepts works for
... I think the word "fundamentally" is clarifying in that it is historical, and also that's the foundation. As the Web has evolved in some ways it has become less available, usable, workable, etc

William: The implication is that we -- the world -- have perverted the essential purpose and meaning of the web.

Shawn: One of the advantages of using "works for" is that it goes with that fundamental idea.
... and then it logically follows that when it doesn't work,it's broken for people with disabilities

Sharron: Yes, I can see that.

Shawn: The next point to consider is that in the current version, second paragraph...the use of the word impairments rather than disability. The idea was not to introduce the concept of disability up front but instead to use the idea of diverse range of abilities and then use the concepts to lead into and end with a strong focus on disabilities. That was intended to encourage people who are uncomfortable with disability to keep reading.
... so in that context is impairments the right word? disabilities? something else?

Sharron: How about "When the web meets its full potential, it is accessible to people with a diverse range of hearing, movement, sight, and cognitive ability. The web is a flexible medium that can enable most people with impairments to use the web just as well as anyone." Could it work to put the two sentences together with a comma?
[later edit: "When the web meets its full potential, it allows people with a diverse range of hearing, movement, sight, and cognitive ability to use the web equally well.]

William: Yes, but then you need the converse--when it does NOT work...

Jack: When the web does not meet it full potential, it disables...

Shawn: I appreciate that very much, Jack but don't think it will fly - there was too much resistance.
... Let's follow on the point about the converse part.

badly written/coded = inaccessible

Shawn: when the Web does NOT meet its full potential. I want to remind us of Liam's point that it is when people design badly that things are inaccessible, that is what makes the Web not work for many.
... if we only say "inaccessible sites create barriers" we lose the point that it is bad design that is really the problem.

Jack: You also lose Liam's point that it is not a disembodied site that is at fault, but that there is individual responsibility to create good work.

William: I have a formatting suggestion. Each sentence in first paragraph should be its own paragraph.

Sharron: Absolutly agree with keeping that idea intact and clearly stated

<Zakim> sylvie, you wanted to talk about inaccessibilty and badly designed

Sylvie:Introduce the reverse point that what we call inaccessible web sites are badly designed web sites, can also keep the original point

Shawn: Yes, I see that "badly designed" covers both how sites are written and how they are coded.

William: So that creates a syllogism. When it works blah blah, when it doesn't blah blah, and the reason it doesn't is that it is badly designed.
... Each of those three things should be presented in its own paragraph to help the mind through the logical steps.

Shawn: The next point to consider is that Shadi's rewritten version loses the phrase about the impact of disability.

"Thus the impact of disability is radically changed on the web"

Sharron: I that idea is very important.

William: But how important is it to reiterate it in the same spot?

Sharron: I see that you --or at least most of us in this group-- would infer that fact from what was previously stated but I think it is important to say it explicitly for those to whom it may never have occured, who have never considered it. The idea that the impact of disability is radically changed on the web is something that many people don't know or have ever thought about. When you tell them how people with disabilities can work, shop, get education, etc. on the web - then that light goes on -- it can be a profound realization.
...I think it is important to create that ah ha moment

conclusion: Let's leave that light bulb switch in.

Shawn: The points we have made are good, but may not flow well, probably still needs editing.

William's email


Shawn: Your first point is that the presentation of "exclude people" is overstated because it not always a completely slammed door
... the shorter version is a stronger statement and the degree is not as important in this context.

William: Go for it.

Shawn: 2nd point we'll come back to
... 3rd alternative input rather than keyboard. Remember that this is for people who are unfamiliar with the topic and the circumstances. want to use familiar language for them

William: OK, since you use "assistive technology that mimics keyboard" it is OK for me

Shawn: too restrictive to say podcasts, but again, the topic is broadened in body of the paragraph and the heading is meant to grab attention.

William: I see that, OK

"What: Examples of Web Accessibility"

Shawn: Is this unnecessarily redundant with intro and should be deleted? or, an important point that we should repeat to help it sink in??

<shawn> Properly designed websites and web tools can be used by people with disabilities. However, currently many sites and tools are developed with accessibility barriers that make it difficult or impossible for some people to use them. Below are just a few examples.

William: Yes it is important

Jack: Important

Sharron: Agree and it introduces the section quite nicely, although I like Alan's perspective and suggestion as well. Happy to leave for editor's discretion.

<shawn> Alan's e-mail: "I think that the intro paragraph is perhaps redundant (this is already described above). It might be better to say that web accessibility is very diverse and cover sensory aspects (sight, hearing), input and output devices, and understandability. "

William: And overall Shawn, you should be proud of this, it is an excellent piece.

Shawn: Thanks, I had lots of input, you know. I'm just the editor

Jack: Your leadership has brought out those comments and watching the list and seeing how much people care has been great.

Business Case Appendix update

Shawn: A company that tracks site traffic has agreed to help collate data. What we need to do now is to have sites that have improved accessibility volunteer to allow that tracking and data gathering
... I will ask Liam to make an enticing offer to distribute and ask those in the group to help.
... any questions?

reminder of EOWG F2F

Shawn: Registration fee to help cover cost of food and such. The fees are quite moderate but will increase after September 21.
... Sylvie will you attend?

Jack: Looks like I may be able to attend.

William: No don't think so

Sharron: I plan to be there

Sylvie: No I can't come

William: will call in as possible

<sylvie> participation via phone would be possible and less expensive

Shawn: yes, I need to check on that make sure we have that access
... time differences might be challenging
... will try to see if we can use Skype, but hotel bandwith will probably be the limitation

W3C redesign - reminder to review and comment

Shawn: Please send comments as soon as possible. Sylvie you noted to me some areas that were not well done. Please type up those comments and submit
... there is a comment list, and when you send please cc me.

Sylvie: I found some differences between the accessibility page and the links to the main design page. Is the navigation bar different?

Shawn: The design that they started with was what I used for the accessibility page that we are working on, but they have since changed the design for the main site

Sylvie: It is not updated according to the updates they have made?

Shawn: Yes the template, wrapper, etc of our accessibility page is not updated

William: Changing the site is enormous and our part is just one small part. Give them a break.

Shawn: So, it seems we can end early, and give everyone a chance to look at the proposed redesign and comment.
... anything else for today?

Summary of Action Items

No Action Items were assigned

[End of minutes]

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