I have read the paper by Chris Law et al., “Programmer-Focused Web[-S]ite Accessibility Evaluations” (abstract), and I don’t think it provides really substantial advice, but at least it has a set of advice to which we will now actually have a published reference. (The article needs serious copy-editing, by the way.)

The authors gripe that accessibility evaluations are all about disabled people rather than programmers, who are the ones who actually end up fixing a lot of the deficiencies. (Not all the deficiencies, of course; they might not write alt texts.) Meanwhile, typical accessibility evaluations snow a programmer under with hundreds of overlong error messages. And of course WAI’s proposed evaluation methods require so much effort that they’re more suited to making the legal case against a war criminal than getting a site redesign out the door.

The authors come up with something they call SERPA (Streamlined Evaluation and Reporting Process for Accessibility). It seems the most important parts are:

  1. List all the fixes, not WCAG checkpoints. Tell them what to fix, not which piece of documentation requires it.
  2. Give them only the items that programmers can fix (so indeed, no alt texts).
  3. Separate easy fixes and hard ones.

Another suggestion, “give evaluation results in a form that programmers can use,” is contained in an amusingly-written paragraph but does not say what that form could be. (Excel spreadsheet? Monospaced fonts on a computer screen, with no antialiasing?)

I think the very most interesting point is to count every instance of the same error as one error. You can have either no entry on a particular error or one entry with n instances. Three hundred missing heading elements are still the same single solitary error. In this respect, one’s esteemed colleague John Allsopp thinks exactly the same way.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2005.11.08 17:32. 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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None. I quit.

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