Accessibility at the Edge

14 September 2022


Adam_Page, alastairc, atai, Ben_Tillyer, CurtBellew, Fazio, Francis_Storr, FredrikFischer, gpellegrino, Irfan_Ali, JaeunJemmaKu, jasonjgw, jeanne, JeffS, Jennie_Delisi_, JoeAndrieu, JohnRochford, JudyB, julierawe, Lionel_Wolberger, Makoto, manu, matatk, mbgower, MichaelC, PaulG, plh, shadi, shawn, ShawnT, Tamas, Travis, wendyreid, Wilco
Janina_Sajka, Ken_Nakata, Lionel_Wolberger, Manu_Sporny

Meeting minutes

Recording of this Breakout Session. Password: y7&P.ZM2

<ShawnT> present

adrian: will it be recorded?

janina: any objection to recording the meeting?

janina: than you all for coming. We hope to bring some clarity and document the reasons why people have had such strong reactions to overlay technology
… and highlight the benefits of the technology

JudyB: a reminder that community groups are different from W3C chartered work.
… a CG is not an endorsement of any work by W3C, but sometimes it is an opportunity to explore a topic in the web community

<MichaelC> https://www.w3.org/Consortium/cepc/

JudyB: please treat people with respect. We're very aware of the controversy of this topic.
… there there's a document that labeled 'draft community group report' but there hasn't been CG discussion yet. We hope that this meeting will clarify how people can comment in the CG. but we hope that this discussion will start the needed process
… we're under rules of ethical professional conduct

janina: we will have brief statements from a panel
… I'm the facilitator. I have a consultation role with UserWay. We're here to talk technology and problems that technology can both solve and create
… I'd like to frame the discussion of technology as tools devoid of a moral orientation (not good or evil but how it's used and implemented)
… we'd like to itemize the ways in which the technology can help and how it maybe shouldn't be used
… I invited Ken Nakata from IAAP to speak

ken: there is an ethical side and IAAP was focused on that

<shawn> International Association of Accessibility Professionals: IAAP https://www.accessibilityassociation.org/s/

ken: I just hate dealing with this topic because it seems impossible to not get caught in the crossfire
… I was asked to help develop a feedback process and technical guidance draft

<shawn> [ Axel = Axel Leblois, Chief Executive Officer, G3ict https://www.accessibilityassociation.org/s/about/team ]

ken: we delivered a draft in August and IAAP would take it forward
… one of the principles was to follow the W3C if they create guidance
… in the terms of the ethical perspective, some of the concern was to make sure there's truthfulness in the statements made by people and companies
… folding that into the IAAP code of conduct

<aardrian> oops... present+

ken: misleading statements can follow the grievance process
… this applies to statements made to a customer by a vendor as well as what is disclosed to users

janina: next on the panel is Manu

Manu: verifiable credentials is a set of technologies that allows you to store and represent certifications
… we can also use verifiable credentials for people, relationships, item provenance, etc.
… it's all the documentation, digitized, and placed on the internet
… when it comes to accessibility we see benefits and dangers
… we must make sure there's consent and privacy considered with verifiable credentials
… when thinking about user preferences on a site, VC can help but there's a concern about fingerprinting users
… we don't want to do the wrong thing. There's a meeting later tomorrow to unpack the requirements from the accessibility community

Lionel_Wolberger: it grew from a CG, can you expand on how this connects

Manu: it started out as a small community of 6 people, it's now grown to about 500 around the world.
… it's a success story of W3C being inclusive and growing an idea toward a standard
… in the beginning it was chaotic. It was an "evil" technology but we identified how it could be used for good and point out the ways in which is should be managed responsibly
… there's a lot of similarities between the early days of VC and "overlays" from accessibility
… with the end goal of benefiting society

janina: last on our panel is Lionel Wolberger as an active participant of W3C and a representative of a company who produces "overlays"


Lionel_Wolberger: what we have in common is a goal to provide access to people with disabilities to the web
… Ken mentioned that he hates to talk about this and Manu spoke of a lightning rod.
… I'd love for everyone on get involved with W3C to help build toward consensus on the useful parts of the technology

janina: there will be full CG available for this discussion, more information will come. If you have comments or questions use the queue

wendyreid: I am one of those people who signed that letter and have strong feelings about overlays. I've run into issues with overlays distracting me or causing issues with my use of the web on my computer or phone
… I think the investment in overlays could be redirected to how to improve tooling for developers and experiences for small/independent creators who don't have the expertise to develop a user experience
… I wonder if the people being served are not the people with disabilities but the business owners
… I've had people tell me "it's accessible, see the button?"

tamas: I work in the web accessibility space. My bigger concern is with the AI aspect.
… things like live regions I don't think overlays will ever be able to solve that

<wendyreid> +1 to Tamas, humans are important

tamas: human nature won't be solved by it

Fazio: to expand on what Wendy said, any technology could be useful but it's in the messaging. We need ethical messaging not marketing speak.

Fazio: let's make sure we're being authentic, clear, and ethical. It's not a one-stop-shop to fix everything

shadi: at the AGWG there's a definition of an overlay
… browsers already fix a lot of bad code. Is that an overlay?
… if I have automatic captioning, it's not a replacement for human captioning, is that an overlay?
… I think people think their site is accessible when they have an accessibility statement.
… the work we're doing is not just technical but also social

adrian: I've been very vocal about this topic
… technology can be used for good but it comes down to how it's used, how it's pitched, and how it affects users.
… all the evidence shows it's not good. When you focus on the outcomes, I can't support it. It's not the technology, it's the outcomes. That's what matters.
… if the CG doesn't discuss the outcomes, people won't get behind it.
… it's about users not a company settling complaints.

Lionel_Wolberger: imagine a company called Vague Links who can enhance "read more" links for people with disabilities
… image that the technical implementation wouldn't be that difficult. "read more" becomes "read more about..." based on the context
… they sell it or give it away it will end up on thousands of sites. Wendy mentioned the "button" annoys them. But this technology has no button but it's called an overlay
… we want to separate the issues to have an honest discussion.

alistair: +1 to Adrian's comments.
… if a solution applies uniformly and isn't customized wouldn't that be better suited for the user agents
… if it is customized, then it should be baked into the construction of the website

<CurtBellew> +1 to Alistair

<jamesn> +1 alistair

sarah_h: this talk of separating technology from politics worries me because technology is inherently political. To me it's extremely important.

<wendyreid> +1000

<aardrian> big +1 to Sarah

sarah_h: there is no "only technical" solution. Where is the accountability to disabled people instead of society and marketing pressures?

<Zakim> manu, you wanted to ask about applying "five star" Linked Data to a11y, and modifying existing compliance programs?

<wendyreid> +1 to strongly considering the needs of the community

Jennie_Delisi_: I want to clarify the terms and definitions that apply to this group. This will benefit those who are new to the technology as well as those with disabilities including anyone with newly acquired disabilities. I'm a member of COGA and want to ensure people with congitive and learning disabilites can participate in this discussion

Manu: getting more specific about each item will serve the group well

<Fazio> Yeah we heard Lionel give examples of different kinds of what are perceived as overlays. Important to have a common definition

Manu: I am hearing some level of agreement. Why can't we build better tools for authors?
… if we target them as developers instead of the end user, maybe we do a better job than the overlay.
… issues need to be broken apart and avoid using all-encompassing terms.
… Fixing the problem upstream is worth talking about.

<shadi> +1 to defining the terms we are using because they mean different things to different people

Manu: at one point with linked data, there was a shift in how it was discussed to be progressive and iterative. I wonder if there are ways of breaking down the problem into bits for the low bar, then the higher bar, and then higher again

<Makoto> +1 to shadi

Manu: so when someone reaches for "an overlay" they have step-by-step approaches to improve their site and avoid the nightmare scenario

jasonjgw: it seems to me the challenge is how to integrate ML/AI into the processes of content creation and presenting it to the user.

<Irfan_Ali> I agree with the idea of defining the term properly in-order to make it clear to everyone.

<Irfan_Ali> +1 to Shadi

jasonjgw: in some situations it is impossible for a person to intervene in real time with autocaptions but it could be used in the first phase of a production then later corrected
… I think it raises a series of questions about transcoding technology for assistive technology
… how are we going to integrate this into the experience of authoring and consuming content

JohnRochford: "nothing about us without us" any solution or technology as to be co-developed by people with disabilities. I'd like to see evidence from companies that they're doing that.
… and that it's successful for the end users

Lionel_Wolberger: 2-3 very different products were mentioned and they were lumped together. Automated remediation, user selected enhanced presentation, and developer tools and monitoring

<aardrian> -1 to product pitch

Lionel_Wolberger: we make multiple products and you may not if these are in use
… i'm just pointing out that this disambiguation is important for the industry to develop this technology

Wilco: I think the need for overlays came from remediation. Tools could be better. Browsers could step up to improve on accessibility. What worries me is putting the decision in the hands of the website owners rather than the people who actually need these technologies.

shadi: I wish more ATMs were easier to use. (inaudible)

janina: we have more to discuss. But this was productive to get the process started.

<mbgower> Thank you, everyone

<shawn> [ lots of "thanks for the discussion" in IRC ]

janina: we will make the recoding available. Thank you all.

janina: we're done for today but we're not done.

Minutes manually created (not a transcript), formatted by scribe.perl version 192 (Tue Jun 28 16:55:30 2022 UTC).


Succeeded: s/ Port McNeill, North Tower 4th floor//

Succeeded: s/any work by W3C/any work by W3C, but sometimes it is an opportunity to explore a topic in the web community/

Succeeded: s/hasn't been a report from the CG yet/there's a document that labeled 'draft community group report' but there hasn't been CG discussion yet. We hope that this meeting will clarify how people can comment in the CG./

Maybe present: adrian, alistair, janina, ken, sarah_h