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Have your say on website accessibility

BSI British Standards has published a draft of the forthcoming BS 8878 standard on its website, and it’s keen to hear from interested parties. From the press release:

Julie Howell, Chair of the committee responsible for drafting DPC BS 8878, commented, “Once published, this standard will be a fantastic tool for organizations wishing to understand their responsibilities in enabling disabled people to use web content.  DPC BS 8878 encourages the enhancement of the overall user experience – a much more holistic approach than we have seen previously and one that I hope will yield exciting results.  Right now we want to encourage as many people as possible to read and comment on the draft standard to ensure it is as relevant as possible.”

I interviewed Julie last week, and she means it when she says she wants lots of input from interested parties – not just disabled Internet users, but anybody with an interest in accessibility. The consultation period ends on 31 January.

8 replies on “Have your say on website accessibility”

Ugh, registration process.

Can you summarise very quickly how this is different than WCAG? It’s difficult enough to achieve WCAG 1.0, much less wade through the entertaining bitching going about WCAG 2.0, so the last thing I need at this point is multiple standards.

Yep. This one isn’t a technical document; it follows on from PAS 78 and it’s aimed at the people who sign off websites rather than the people who build them. Does that make sense?

I’ve registered and am looking at it now. My quick review, in the spirit of your film reviews: egad. Example:

“5.2 Web content authoring tools
In the choice and procurement of tools businesses and organizations should require suppliers to list any deviations from ATAG (see 6.2).

6.2 Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG)
Web content developers using an authoring tool or content management system (CMS) to develop their web content should strive to use one that upholds ATAG.”

Oh really? Personally I prefer outsourcing to a 14 year old neighbour who uses Bebo to create web sites, but I see those days are numbered. FFS.

And later, in “Example Organisational Web Accessibility Policy”:

“The principles of this policy form a set of requirements that will uphold. The principles should be fulfilled according to the policy timetable.

• To meet the needs of internal and external stakeholders, providing an inclusive online experience”

So we’re now expected to create a “policy timetable”? Why not call them “site visitors”, why the need to dub them “external stakeholders”?

Pass my thanks onto Ms Howell for filling my New Labour BS Bingo card so quickly today.

I dunno, is it even possible to have an official document that doesn’t use that kind of language? I suspect we’ve raised a generation of managers who don’t actually understand plain English.

My dad’s a professor of management. He got so pissed off with the bullshit language he left the field. He says the problem isn’t the language per se, but the way it’s now used as a substitute for thinking instead of being an irritating but harmless layer on top of the thinking.

That’s largely down to the BS language term par excellence – “partnership” – which in practice means that thinking is heresy.
“If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” – Orwell.

Accessible web design is tricky enough to achieve without clients and customers being portrayed as “stakeholders”, perfectly good business relationships being viewed as “partnerships”, and business case analyses being diluted into a “multi-faceted approach”. Awayandgiesuspeace.

My current bugbear — because it’s used constantly in my job — is calling problems “issues”. I make an effort always to call them problems and to save the word “issue” for issues. It’s so bloody typical of modern management: “We’ve got a problem. We need to get rid of the problem. I know! Let’s introduce a new policy that no-one’s allowed to use the word ‘problem’ any more. Presto hey: no more problem!” Yeah, fucking genius.

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