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accessibility and usability

 
 
Barbara de Zoete
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      11-30-2004
[F'up set to ciwas-d]

I am getting more and more confused as to the meaning of the words
'accessibility' and 'usability' *in the context of the world wide web*.
What do these two words mean? How do they differ from one another? Where
does the meaning overlap, if it does? Where do they perhaps conflict with
one another, if they do?

Can anyone please explain to someone who is not native speaking, nor
fluent in English?

TIA
--
Weblog | <http://home.wanadoo.nl/b.de.zoete/_private/weblog.html>
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Roy Schestowitz
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      11-30-2004
Barbara de Zoete wrote:

> [F'up set to ciwas-d]
>
> I am getting more and more confused as to the meaning of the words
> 'accessibility' and 'usability' *in the context of the world wide web*.
> What do these two words mean? How do they differ from one another? Where
> does the meaning overlap, if it does? Where do they perhaps conflict with
> one another, if they do?
>
> Can anyone please explain to someone who is not native speaking, nor
> fluent in English?


Accessibility is concerned with design that accommodates the need of
disabled people (usually). For example, if you are near-sighted or blind
(and hence _listen_ to Web pages), you want the page to have properties
that make it friendly to you.

Accessibility is a subset of usability, I suppose. It is one aspect that
makes a page easier to _use_, by all audiences. This leads to the
definition of 'usability'. Usability can be explained in terms of ease of
navigation (How do I get to...), good context (where am I inside the Web
site?), etc.

I know examples can help...

I hope this helps,

Roy

--
Roy Schestowitz
http://schestowitz.com
 
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Tina - AffordableHOST, Inc.
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      11-30-2004
"Roy Schestowitz" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:cohduf$r90$(E-Mail Removed)...
> Barbara de Zoete wrote:
>
>> [F'up set to ciwas-d]
>>
>> I am getting more and more confused as to the meaning of the words
>> 'accessibility' and 'usability' *in the context of the world wide web*.
>> What do these two words mean? How do they differ from one another? Where
>> does the meaning overlap, if it does? Where do they perhaps conflict with
>> one another, if they do?
>>
>> Can anyone please explain to someone who is not native speaking, nor
>> fluent in English?

>
> Accessibility is concerned with design that accommodates the need of
> disabled people (usually). For example, if you are near-sighted or blind
> (and hence _listen_ to Web pages), you want the page to have properties
> that make it friendly to you.
>
> Accessibility is a subset of usability, I suppose. It is one aspect that
> makes a page easier to _use_, by all audiences. This leads to the
> definition of 'usability'. Usability can be explained in terms of ease of
> navigation (How do I get to...), good context (where am I inside the Web
> site?), etc.



I would actually define usability closer to what you've described as
accessibility. Accessibility simply being whether or not you can actually
access the website.

--Tina
--
http://www.AffordableHOST.com - Multi-Domain & Reseller Cpanel Hosting
++ 20% Discount Coupon Code ++: newsgroup
Serving the web since 1997


 
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Karl Core
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      11-30-2004

"Barbara de Zoete" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
newspsh9r8n0gx5vgts@zoete_b...
> [F'up set to ciwas-d]
>
> I am getting more and more confused as to the meaning of the words
> 'accessibility' and 'usability' *in the context of the world wide web*.
> What do these two words mean? How do they differ from one another? Where
> does the meaning overlap, if it does? Where do they perhaps conflict with
> one another, if they do?
>
> Can anyone please explain to someone who is not native speaking, nor
> fluent in English?
>


In its strictest form, accessibility is often defined as "whether a disabled
person can gain access to the resource".
Some have deemed accessibility as a sub-set of usability. I disagree, in
that an accessible site can still be UN-usable and vice versa.
In other words, one does not necessarily follow from another.

Usability is "how easy it is to use something", whether it is a website or a
mop. Many things you use in your daily life have had their design influenced
by someone in the field of usability. I often use the controls on a car
stereo as an example. At one time, tape decks had a "flip" button which
would reverse the play so that you could play both sides of the tape. The
stereo also had buttons labeled [<<] and [>>] which would "Fast Forward" or
"Rewind" the tape. Problem is, this did a different thing depending on which
side of the tape you were playing. This caused users headaches - a button
should only have ONE action. Some smart usability person decided that the
"fast forward" button should always fast forward no matter what side of the
tape you're on.

Hope this helped.


--
-Karl Core
Please Support "Project Boneyard":
http://www.insurgence.net/info.aspx?...&item=boneyard


 
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Michael Fesser
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      11-30-2004
.oO(Karl Core)

>In its strictest form, accessibility is often defined as "whether a disabled
>person can gain access to the resource".


Why restrict it to the disabled? Many websites are inaccessible even for
non-disabled users (lack of plugins or client-side scripting for
example).

Micha
 
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Harlan Messinger
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      11-30-2004

"Tina - AffordableHOST, Inc." <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...
> "Roy Schestowitz" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
> news:cohduf$r90$(E-Mail Removed)...
> > Barbara de Zoete wrote:
> >
> >> [F'up set to ciwas-d]
> >>
> >> I am getting more and more confused as to the meaning of the words
> >> 'accessibility' and 'usability' *in the context of the world wide web*.
> >> What do these two words mean? How do they differ from one another?

Where
> >> does the meaning overlap, if it does? Where do they perhaps conflict

with
> >> one another, if they do?
> >>
> >> Can anyone please explain to someone who is not native speaking, nor
> >> fluent in English?

> >
> > Accessibility is concerned with design that accommodates the need of
> > disabled people (usually). For example, if you are near-sighted or blind
> > (and hence _listen_ to Web pages), you want the page to have properties
> > that make it friendly to you.
> >
> > Accessibility is a subset of usability, I suppose. It is one aspect that
> > makes a page easier to _use_, by all audiences. This leads to the
> > definition of 'usability'. Usability can be explained in terms of ease

of
> > navigation (How do I get to...), good context (where am I inside the Web
> > site?), etc.

>
>
> I would actually define usability closer to what you've described as
> accessibility. Accessibility simply being whether or not you can

actually
> access the website.


That's the plain meaning of the word. But in the context of the Web, and I
suppose in user interface design in general, "accessibility" has taken on
the specific meaning explained by Roy, euphemistic as it is, and that's how
it's now generally understood.

 
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nice.guy.nige
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      11-30-2004
While the city slept, Karl Core ((E-Mail Removed)) feverishly
typed...

> In its strictest form, accessibility is often defined as "whether a
> disabled person can gain access to the resource".
> Some have deemed accessibility as a sub-set of usability. I disagree,
> in that an accessible site can still be UN-usable and vice versa.
> In other words, one does not necessarily follow from another.


I disagree. A page needs to be usable if it is going to be accessible. From
section 2.2 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidlines (1.0);

"Content developers should make content understandable and navigable. This
includes not only making the language clear and simple, but also providing
understandable mechanisms for navigating within and between pages. Providing
navigation tools and orientation information in pages will maximize
accessibility and usability." [
http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/#context-and-orientation ]

[...]

> I often
> use the controls on a car stereo as an example. At one time, tape
> decks had a "flip" button which would reverse the play so that you
> could play both sides of the tape.


Eeh... I remember when you had to pop the tape out and turn it over!

Cheers,
Nige

--
Nigel Moss
http://www.nigenet.org.uk
Mail address not valid. http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed), take the DOG. out!
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Liz
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      11-30-2004
In message <(E-Mail Removed)>
"nice.guy.nige" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> From section 2.2 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidlines (1.0);
>
> "Content developers should make content understandable and navigable. This
> includes not only making the language clear and simple."


High aims indeed.
But 'making content understandable' is irrelevant to many sites, and
impossible for most.
If someone has a site about nuclear physics or quantum mechanics or loads of
other topics, do I get hot under the collar if I can't understand it? Is it
reasonable to expect that I should be able to understand it? Answers on a
pixel, please.


It's clear and simple that the person who thought up that one hadn't
done much work with people with even moderate learning difficulties: any
content suitable for that audience would be tedious in the extreme for
everyone else. Teachers don't write the same materials to suit the whole
ability range, so why would web designers? I'm not sure about US newspapers,
but here in the UK, the 'middle of the road' newspaper has a policy of
making all its articles fit a 'reading age of 12 years'. Above that we have
what were called the 'broadsheets', below that the Sun and the Star. Each
written not only for an audience of particular political/ideological
persuasions, but with a different intellectual profile in mind: no
one-size-fits-all.

I think I was teaching for about five years before I realised that plenty of
children who seem to be able to read are only reading 'mechanically' - they
haven't a clue what the words or phrases actually mean. When watching
'mainline' films (="movies") many absolutely haven't a clue what it's all
about. In fact, my school had a couple of actors following the 'bottom first
years' (age c12) round for a day: it was certainly an eye opener for them!
It may be theoretically possible to accommodate most (all?) sorts of
physical differences in one site, but extremely unlikely to accommodate a
wide range of learning differences and retain interest and stickability for
both extremes.

Did anyone ever show w3c the requirement that their site should be 'clear
and simple'? (Does the w3c still have 'live links' to the page you're on?)

Slainte

Liz

--
Virtual Liz now at http://www.v-liz.com
Kenya; Tanzania; Namibia; India; Seychelles; Galapagos
"I speak of Africa and golden joys"
 
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Liz
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      11-30-2004
In message <(E-Mail Removed)>
Michael Fesser <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> .oO(Karl Core)
>
> > In its strictest form, accessibility is often defined as "whether a
> > disabled person can gain access to the resource".


> Why restrict it to the disabled? Many websites are inaccessible even for
> non-disabled users (lack of plugins or client-side scripting for
> example).


We already had an example at the w/e of a guy claiming his site was
accessible, when it probably wasn't.
I've just been browsing my current 'recommended books' at amazon (uk)
One of them is a book called "Building Accessible Websites" by Joe Clark,
recommended by Zeldman in "Designing with Web standards"

A User review says, inter alia:
"The typefaces are too small and not very clear. I am very surprised that
Clark has not considered that some readers' ... eyes are not what they used
to be.
....info is not chunked into easy to read pieces or (with) proper
headings...
....Clark says NOT to use Arial. Dyslexics would disagree with this. It is
one of their favourite fonts".

OK, this is a book, not a website, and the author may not have had full
control over the design/layout, but it's not very encouraging in a book
purporting to be about accessibility!


On the other topic, the book I most like about Usability is Steve Krug's
"Don't Make Me Think". It's a book which is clear and simple: some people
might think it's too simple (every now and then I dip into the 'polar bear
book' (forget it's name: Information Architecture or somesuch): that's a
perfect illustration of the impossibility of being 'meaty' enough to satisfy
some, but simple enough to be understood by the 'many'.

Slainte

Liz
--
Virtual Liz now at http://www.v-liz.com Kenya; Tanzania; Namibia;
India; Seychelles; Galapagos "I speak of Africa and golden joys"
 
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Alan J. Flavell
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      11-30-2004
On Tue, 30 Nov 2004, Liz wrote:

> But 'making content understandable' is irrelevant to many sites, and
> impossible for most.


Your point is well taken, but I think you're misinterpreting the
intentions. The guidelines aren't advocating that content which is
inherently challenging should be dumbed-down - to the detriment of
those who *would* be able to understand it; they're asking that the
content, whatever it might be, is expressed and presented in an
understandable and accessible way that's consistent with its inherent
level of difficulty.

Sure: I'm not claiming that it's easy to do that. But at least it
makes some kind of sense, whereas your interpretation of their agenda
- as your own argument has shown - would set a task that is simply not
feasible; indeed to a significant extent it would be self-
contradictory.
 
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