I wanted to call our W4A paper ‘Define Accessibility!’ as both a challenge and a call, but I was overruled so it’s actually called ‘Understanding Web Accessibility and Its Drivers’. Here’s a sneaky peek at the abstract ahead of time!
“Access is what the web is ‘about’, it is the motivation behind its creation, and it is the rationale behind HTML. The desire to provide all users at CERN with the ability to access all documents was Tim Berners Lee’s primary goal, and this goal must also be carried through to equal access for all users. But this equality of access – accessibility – is difficult to quantify, define, or agree upon. In a constantly evolving field, understanding each other can be tricky; indeed, there are many different definitions in the literature, all with a different perspective. This makes it difficult for our community to interact, reach agreement, or share understanding. What is more, it makes it very difficult for those outside the web accessibility community to understand, plan, budget, enact policy, or conform to accessibility requirements and legislation when the community it self has so many, in some cases, conflicting definitions. We asked over 300 people, with an interest in accessibility, to discuss their views and definitions in an attempt to harmonise our understanding and support the expectations of users outside the community. We find that misunderstanding accessibility definitions, language, and terms might cause tension between different groups. That social, and not economic, aspects drive our perspectives of accessibility, and that definitions used by standards and regulatory bodies are most accepted not those of individual experts. Forcing accessibility adoption does not encourage the acceptance of an accessibility ethos, but providing empirical evidence that accessibility benefits all, does. Finally, realistic and concise language was preferred when attempting to communicate, or define accessibility. “