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Failed and Flawed Accessibility Organisations

By Ian Lloyd | February 26th, 2007 | Filed in Accessibility, Accessibility TF

Mike Davies suggests that a number of accessibility related web sites and groups have failed to come up with the goods but still has high hopes for the WaSP ATF and WCAG Samurai.

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So the WaSP Accessibility Task Force (also known as ATF) is a glimmer of hope, as is Joe Clark’s WCAG Samurai, according to Mike Davies. But he also thinks that there are a few failures racking up:

GAWDS has failed. Accessifyforum has failed. Accessites is fundamentally flawed. WCAG 2.0 is in trouble.

I think we can all agree that WCAG 2.0 is in trouble, and has been for a long time. The problem is its sheer scale and the wish that it should be all things to all people (and then becomes unusable by most). But I just wanted to pick up on one site mentioned above, as it’s something that I have some relationship with. First, though, I’d like to clarify what that relationship is.

Accessifyforum.com is not owned or maintained by me, even though its name is based on the accessify.com domain name. It was set up some years ago, with my full approval and with partner links between the two sites for one simple reason – accessify.com didn’t have a forum and at that time I had never investigated the logistics of setting up a forum (actually, I still haven’t ever done that), so how could I complain if someone else wanted to set up a forum for this topic?

Accessifyforum started with a small bunch of people and has over time grown to a respectable sized online community (approx 4500 registered users as I write this). I will admit that I rarely post to the site these days – I treat it like I do a number of other forums, as place I can go to when I want to ask a question or get a sanity check on something. I think that qualifies as a stage below ‘lurker’, a stage where I am essentially a complete and utter user, but let’s put that aside for one moment, eh? The point is that while I know that my involvement in the site has reduced over time, that doesn’t mean I value it any less – I still feel it is as useful as it ever was and often find specific discussions on the forum popping up in Google search results when I’m looking for an answer to an accessibility-related query that I have.

Mike’s real bugbear, it seems, is the practitioners who dwell in such online communities on a regular basis:

Its increasingly obvious that people really interested in accessibility – making content accessible to people with disabilities – need an environment where their ideas are valued, their experience shared. And free of the imposing posturing of universalists. There’s a need for a clean start. The current web-developer focused organisations are tainted, constrained by universality, with sour to nonexistent relationships with assistive technology providers and browser vendors. And, more damning, a pervasive poison against any content that isn’t HTML.

So has accessifyforum failed really failed? And can a site really be classed a failure if it doesn’t have a mission statement (there’s not even a marketing tag-line under the header)?

But the reason for posting this here is to widen the question a bit more and ask a very open question. If you believe that the various accessibility sites named in Mike’s post are failures or flawed, what would work for you?

Your Replies

#1 On February 26th, 2007 7:21 am