From Web accessibility to Web ada...
University of Bath Opus Online Publications Store http://opus.bath.ac.uk/ COVER PAGE This version is made available in accordance with publisher policies. Please cite only the published version using the citation below. Author(s): Kelly, B., Nevile, L., Sloan, D., Fanou, S., Ellison, R., Herrod, L. Title: From Web Accessibility to Web Adaptability Date of creation: July 2009 The citation for the published version is: Kelly, B., Nevile, L., Sloan, D., Fanou, S., Ellison, R., Herrod, L., 2009. From Web Accessibility to Web Adaptability. Disability and Rehability: Assistive Technology, 4 (4), 212 -226. Link to official URL (if available): http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content db=all con- tent=a912788469 The University of Bath Opus website (http://opus.bath.ac.uk/) provides in- formation on usage policies. Please scroll down to view the document.
From Web Accessibility to Web Adaptability BRIAN KELLY1, LIDDY NEVILE2, DAVID SLOAN3, SOTIRIS FANOU4, RUTH ELLISON5 & LISA HERROD6 1 UKOLN, University of Bath, Bath, UK 2 School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences , La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia 3 School of Computing, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK��� 4 Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, UWE, Stapleton Bristol, UK 5 Consultant, Canberra, Australia and 6 User Experience Consultant, Sydney, Australia Abstract Purpose: This paper asserts that current approaches to enhancing the accessibility of Web resources fail to provide a solid foundation for the development of a robust and future-proofed framework. In particular, they fail to take advantage of new technologies and technological practices. The paper introduces a framework for Web adaptability which encourages the development of Web-based services which can be resilient to the diversity of uses of such services, the target audience, available resources, technical innovations, organisational policies and relevant definitions of ���accessibility���. Method: The article refers to a series of author-focussed approaches to accessibility through which the authors and others have struggled to find ways to promote accessibility for people with disabilities. These approaches depend upon the resource author's determination of the anticipated users' needs and their provision. Through approaches labelled as 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0, the authors have widened their focus to account for contexts and individual differences in target audiences. Now, the authors want to recognise the role of users in determining their engagement with resources (including services). To distinguish this new approach, the term 'adaptability' has been used to replace 'accessibility' new definitions of accessibility have been adopted, and the authors have reviewed their previous work to clarify how it is relevant to the new approach. Results: Accessibility 1.0 is here characterised as a technical approach in which authors are told how to construct resources for a broadly defined audience. This is known as universal design. Accessibility 2.0 was introduced to point to the need to account for the context in which resources would be used, to help overcome inadequacies identified in the purely technical approach. Accessibility 3.0 moved the focus on users from a homogenised universal definition to recognition of the idiosyncratic needs and preferences of individuals and to cater for them. All of these approaches placed responsibility within the authoring/publishing domain without recognising the role the user might want to play, or the roles that other users in social networks, or even Web services might play. Conclusions: Adaptability shifts the emphasis and calls for greater freedom for the users to facilitate individual accessibility in the open Web environment. Keywords: Accessibility, usability, WAI, WCAG 1. Introduction A group of primarily UK-based researchers have, since 2004, investigated limitations of Web accessibility solutions, particularly those proposed by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). The early work described inadequacies of the WAI model in the context of e- learning . Further work exposed limitations in the WAI model itself and the guidelines which comprise the WAI model . An elaborated approach to Web accessibility emerged which included a context for using the WAI model  in a more holistic way originally known as Holistic Accessibility. The term Web Accessibility 2.0 (or Accessibility 2.0) has now been adopted to describe this approach. Subsequent work further explored the definition and needs of users and led to support for work that proposes the automatic composition of components into resources that are suitable for individual users. This was called Web Accessibility 3.0 . This paper reviews the development of these approaches to Web accessibility, explores the various limitations of these distinct approaches and describes a more ���inclusive��� approach. The new approach aims to provide a foundation which encompasses the complexity of enhancing access to digital resources for all people, not differentiating those with disabilities that are defined medically. The authors refer to this as Web Adaptability. The authors have adopted the UN Conventional definition of disabilities and consider that all people are disabled in some circumstances and that 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 .
2. Web Accessibility 1.0 2.1 About Web Accessibility 1.0 The term ���Web Accessibility 1.0��� is used to described the WAI Web accessibility approach which is based on conformance with the WCAG, ATAG and UAAG specifications developed by W3C���s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). 2.2 The WAI Web Accessibility Model The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has played a leading role in promoting accessibility of the Web for ���people with disabilities���. People are so described according to a medical model of disability that attributes pathologies to people rather than, for example, a model that attributes functional needs to them, or the more inclusive social definition that considers needs and preferences within contexts for all people. The W3C���s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has a model for developers of accessible Web resources. This is based on the premise that full conformance with the set of technical specifications (guidelines) will achieve the stated goal of universal Web accessibility, meaning accessibility for people with the full range of disabilities (medically defined). It should be noted here that what is being described as the WAI model is, in fact, what is commonly understood to be their model, whereas WAI itself advocates a broad approach to the problem involving a wide range of players. This confusion arises because in many circumstances, accessibility is assumed to be fully dealt with by adherence to technical specifications. The WAI model, as described here, refers then to the WAI technical specifications model. In the WAI model, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines  are specifications that are coupled with accessibility guidelines for browsing and access technologies, the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines, UAAG , and for tools to support creation of Web content, Authoring Tools Accessibility Guidelines, ATAG . This approach acknowledges that in addition to providers of Web content, developers of authoring tools and of browsers, media players and access technologies also have responsibility for the provision of accessible Web content for people with disabilities. It is appropriately a technical approach, because the W3C���s mission is technical development of the Web achieved through consensus leading to recommendation of technical specifications. 2.3 Limitations of the WAI Model Web resource authors have control over their own conformance with WCAG, and with ATAG with respect to interactivity they offer, but they have no control over users��� access facilities or practices. In fact, many users cannot benefit from the accessibility features promised by a WCAG conformant Web page, due to limitations of their skills, or their browsing or assistive technology. In addition, not all users have the same functional requirements but they are not offered any way to determine if their individual needs are met, or to find resources that suit their needs, regardless of how those resources may or may not suit the needs of others. 2.4 Limitations of WCAG WCAG 1.0 was a major achievement of WAI but nevertheless was not perfect. A number of shortcomings of that version have been documented elsewhere  . WCAG 2.0 was released in December 2008 . Compared with the HTML-focused WCAG 1.0, WCAG 2.0 is technology-neutral. Its core principles (POUR: perceivable, operable, understandable, robust) and related 'success criteria' aim to be applicable to the widest possible range of present and future technologies used to deliver content on the Web ��� including non-W3C technologies. WCAG 2.0 is, however, another set of technical specifications. The normative ���guidelines��� are complemented by non-normative, technology-specific 'techniques' documents, detailing specific implementation examples and best practices. The specifications are still all about testable technical attributes of resources. There is no problem with this. It is simply that such technical attributes alone cannot, as has been shown, solve all the accessibility problems. 2.5 Limitations of Web Accessibility 1.0 Previously, the authors have shown that the technical approaches do not provide the flexibility needed for a robust infrastructure which supports a diversity of uses of the Web . WCAG 1.0 included a requirement that WCAG 1.0 AA conformant pages must validate as HTML conformant, for instance. Lilley  asserted that ���99.99999% of the Web was invalid HTML��� in 2007 and his estimate is backed up by surveys such as Marincu  which reports that ���Only four U.K. sites (less than 0.2 percent) and six German sites (less than 0.4 percent) had completely valid HTML markup���. Similar evidence is provided by more recent surveys . This evidence suggests that the number of Web sites which can be regarded as WCAG 1.0 AA compliant is close to 0%! It is explained by the perceived need of authors to provide resources that are appropriately interpreted by browser software in common usage, and that these are invariably not completely UAAG conformant, so they do not use HTML in a conformant way. Such examples have led the authors not to the conclusion that the low levels of conformance with WCAG guidelines indicate that more enforcement is needed, but that the evidence can be interpreted as highlighting limitations of the WAI model, which, in this paper, we refer to as ���Web Accessibility 1.0���.