One disagrees with his esteemed colleague Grant Broome, who believes text-resize “widgits” (that’s not how it’s spelled) really should still be used. His reasons?

We have to accept that some people will never learn to fish; either because they can’t or they don’t want to. If they don’t want to, who are we to say that they have to?

Because we can reasonably demand that people learn to use their equipment. It’s one keystroke, people, or two if you think holding down Ctrl or Command counts as a keystroke. (That means the full set of skills you need to change text size everywhere is either two or four keystrokes.)

Those who can’t/won’t may include:

  • People who are mobility impaired, particularly those using switch access

You’re making things significantly worse for this group by jigging up a text-resizer on your site. Instead of programming their adaptive technology to allow them to simply type Ctrl-plus and -minus, they have to laboriously tab over to your little bit of JavaScript, hope it really works with a keyboard surrogate, and laboriously activate it.

  • People who have learning difficulties
  • People with cognitive disabilities

They’re functionally the same group in this context. They can use the onscreen button in their browser toolbar or just learn a single keystroke. Of course the toolbar button should be visible by default. The fact it isn’t visible is not our fault.

Please show me actual test data proving that anyone in these three categories cannot learn to type two keystrokes.

  • People who won’t reali[z]e the benefit until someone has actually shown them

You’re teaching them to fish. You’ve nullified your own argument.

  • Infrequent Web users

If they use the Web infrequently, they’ll be inconvenienced infrequently. Besides, we don’t want to give them, or anyone, the impression that text size can be changed only on those unusual sites that have a little icon onscreen. Save for the IE px bug, live text can always be resized. It isn’t secret, it isn’t magic, and nobody needs a special interface to do it. (Or, more accurately, innumerable slightly different and inconsistent interfaces.)

  • People who aren’t confident with technology

Teach them to fish. Again, “I’m afraid of my computer” (as most Windows users are, with reason) is no justification to reinvent the wheel.

Web developers already have enough to worry about, and the proportion of developers who even bother with accessibility is visibly small. There are bigger things to worry about. Please pick on somebody else.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2007.11.28 14:14. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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