Raising Awareness

"A centre of excellence in digital information management, providing advice and services to the library, information and cultural heritage communities."

UKOLN is based at the University of Bath.

One World, One Web ... But Great Diversity


Brian Kelly gave a pre-recorded video presentation of a paper on One World, One Web ... But Great Diversity at the W4A 2008 conference which has the theme "One World, One Web: Surfers become Designers?". The conference was held on 21-22nd April 2008 in Beijing, China. The 22 minute video presentation was given on 22nd April at 17.00-17.30 (local time) / 10.00-10.30 (BST).



One World, One Web ... But Great Diversity
[MS PowerPoint 97/2000 format] - [HTML format]


Accompanying Paper

One World, One Web ... But Great Diversity
About - [MS Word 97/2000 format] - [PDF format] - [HTML format]



One World, One Web ... But Great Diversity
[WMV format] - [HTML interface]


Embedded Video From Google Video


Slides from Slideshare

Notes to accompany talk

Slide 1

This paper on One World, One Web ... But Great Diversity was accepted for publication at the W4A 2008 conference. The slides and accompanying resources are available online at the URI

This paper builds on previous work on holistic approaches to Web accessibility. The need for a user-centred, rather than resource-centred, approach is described. The application of this approach in various contexts, including Web 2.0, is described.

These slides and the accompanying talk have been prepared by Brian Kelly, lead author of the paper. The other authoirs are Liddy Nevile, EA Draffan and Sotiris Fanou. Note that a Creative Common licence is available for the slides and accompanying talk.

Slide 2

The Limitations of WAI's approaches to accessibility in e-learning context were first described in a paper entitled Developing A Holistic Approach For E-Learning Accessibility published in the Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology in 2004.

The paper argued the need to focus on the accessibility of the learner's needs, rather than the e-learning resources.

Slide 3

A framework for applying WCAG in the real world (of flawed browsers, limited resources, etc) was described at W4A 2005 in a paper on Forcing Standardization or Accommodating Diversity? A Framework for Applying the WCAG in the Real World.

Slide 4

The need to address the context of use and the potential of AccessForAll metadata described at W4A 2005 ion a paper on Contextual Web Accessibility - Maximizing the Benefit of Accessibility Guidelines.

A Tangram metaphor was introduced to visualise the potential benefits which can be provided by providing a diversity of approaches.

Slide 5

The application of our work in a wider context (e.g. cultural resources) was described at W4A 2007 in a paper on Accessibility 2.0: People, Policies and Processes.

The paper provided examples to illustrate the complexities - for example the paper included a visual image which could be interpreted as a duck or a rabbit - providing alt descriptions would take away the ambiguities of this image.

The paper introduced the stakeholder model and coined the term Accessibility 2.0.

Slide 6

So Where Are We Today? Our work:

  • Acknowledges limitations in WAIComplements WAIProvides a realistic framework for development activities.
  • Seeks to avoid stifling of innovation by the accessibility fundamentalist.

Slide 7

The limitations of WAI guidelines have been acknowledged. In a paper on Accessibility of Emerging Rich Web Technologies: Web 2.0 and the Semantic Web presneted at the W4A 2007 conference Michael Cooper, who works for W3C WAI said:

However, we recognize that standards are slow, and technology evolves quickly in the commercial marketplace. Innovation brings new customers and solidifies relationships with existing customers; Web 2.0 innovations also bring new types of professionals to the field, ones who care about the new dynamic medium. As technologies prove themselves, standardizing brings in the universality of the benefit, but necessarily follows this innovation. Therefore, this paper acknowledges and respects Web 2.0, discussing the issues and real world solutions.

Slide 8

Further work is needed in the following areas:

  • In understanding how WCAG guidelines can be used in a Web 2.0 context.
  • In developing approaches for migrating from WCAG 1.0 to WCAG 2.0.
  • In developing a more flexible and user-centred approach to Web accessibility.
  • In addressing more challenging areas of accessibility, such as learning disabilities.

These areas are addressed in the paper.

Slide 9

Reactions to Web 2.0 from groups who might be referred to as accessibility fundamentalists (i.e. those who believe that the truth the answers to Web accessibility - is to be found in WCAG 1.0 document) and Web 2.0 sceptics include:

  • It uses AJAX, and we know that a bad thing.
  • You shouldn't use Facebook, MySpace, as it breaks WCAG guidelines.
  • Second Life is a non-no- it's inherently inaccessible.


  • AJAX can provide accessibility benefits.
  • People with disabilities are using social networks - should we stop them if they find this useful?
  • Judith finds Second Life a liberating experience.

Slide 10

A video clip shows Judith, a user with cerebral palsy, using Second Life with a headwand.

She was asked: "Do you think that this will be a really useful tool for people who are unable to get around, who have problems of mobility in real life?"

Her response was "Yes, because you can have friends without having to go out and physically find them."

There is a danger that organisations will ban Second Life as they feel if fails to comply with accessibility guidelines. This would deprive users such as Judith of the benefits they seek.

Slide 11

Social networks (e.g. Facebook):

  • Are being used by people with disabilities.
  • Evaluation of the experiences of people with disabilities (rather than evaluation of the resource) is beginning.
  • CAPCHA seems to be a barrier. It should be noted that RNIB admit that solutions are not easy and removal of CAPCHA would provide a worse environment for people with disabilities as this is likely to lead to more spam for them to deal with. The authors argues that 'blended solutions' may have a role - for example "ring this number".

There is a need for:

  • More evidence gathering.
  • More advocacy & pressure.

But such evidence gathering should be used to facilitate access to social networks by those who seeks such access and not as a control mechanism to undermine them.

Slide 12

Should we regard Facebook (for example):

  • As a stand-alone service?
  • As one of a range of access points and allow users to chose their preferred environment?

Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) and Personal Research Environments (PREs) are of increasing interest in higher education where there is a focus on:

  • Supporting personal choice.
  • Providing data which can be surfaced in different environment (via RSS and other technologies).
  • New media literacy skills.

Learning resources can be made available via RSS. The users may then choose to access the resources via their preferred interface: a VLE, an RSS reader, a social network,

Slide 13

Our initial work focussed on:

  • Models to embrace diversity.
  • Policies to support such models.

Complementary work in progress on:

  • Metadata to support computer-mediated delivery of personalised resources.
  • Standardisation activities (AccessForAll).
  • Demonstrator projects (e.g. the TILE project).

Slide 14

A WCAG 2.0 document states "WCAG 2.0 [does] not address all of the needs of people with disabilities, particularly cognitive, language, and learning disabilities".

How should we go about addressing learning disability issues?

Research work at UWE (University of West of England, UK) is developing systems aimed at health trainers who have learning disabilities. The group will be trained to support health promotion in learning disabilities community.

The approaches being taken are:

  • Engagement with the users at initial design phase.
  • Pragmatic approach based on 'what works'.
  • Experiences which will be shared at later date.

Slide 15

In the Commissioning Web Sites the evidence shows the popularity of WCAG-based logos (WCAG A/AA/AA Compliant, Bobby, ..). We know a focus on logos can be a problem.

What should we do?

  • Discourage use of logos?
  • Explore alternative approaches?

Alternative approaches may include:

  • Focus on quality workflow processes, rather than the resources (cf ISO 9001 standard).
  • BSI PAS 78 provides example of this approach.

Slide 16

There are some limitations to our approaches:

  • Developers may prefer hard objective rules.
  • The difficulties in identifying 'reasonable measures'.
  • Institutional policies based on old approaches.
  • Ego invested in existing approaches ("I'll never use any trendy JavaScript on my site!)"

Ways of addressing these challenges include:

  • Drawing parallels with other areas.
  • WCAG 1.0 as training wheels - once principles mastered, more flexibility approaches can be taken.
  • Sharing experiences, best practices (and problems) with peers.

Slide 17

To conclude:

  • Our Previous work on identifying limitations of Web accessibility 1.0 is now becoming accepted.
  • Deployment of WCAG 2.0 provides an opportunity to promote more flexible approaches.
  • We hope paper has provided examples of such flexibility.