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"ACM SIGCHI General Interest Announcements (Mailing List)" <[log in to unmask]>
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Gary PERLMAN <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Wed, 12 May 1999 17:16:42 -0400
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CHI 99 Special Interest Group Meeting

Universal Web Access: Delivering Services to Everyone

   Gary Perlman ([log in to unmask])

   http://www.acm.org/~perlman/access/

This page is for gathering information related to a SIG session at
CHI 99 on "Universal Web Access: Delivering Services to
Everyone" attempting to make simultaneous progress on multiple
dimensions of diversity: Multilingual/International/Multicultural,
Handicapped/Disabled, Gender, Age, Economics, etc.

   Scheduled for: Wednesday, May 19, 1999 2:30-4:00pm

To deliver services to more users, developers can try to reach
more diverse users (language / culture, handicapped / disabled,
gender, age, etc.).  By developing and sharing methods and
resources to address many dimensions of diversity, developers may
improve accessibility for all.

Session Plan

The following have agreed to make brief presentations on their
work and/or views on universal accessibility. One or two more may
be added. Out of necessity, no topic encompasses all possible
dimensions of accessibility, but the diversity of topics
highlights the potential to broaden markets to include more users,
and should spark some ideas for discussion. One goal of the
session will be to consider how to broaden these and other
projects, while another will be to determine how a community of
people interested in accessibility can share resource. Part of the
discussion will attempt to answer what to do next.

1. Evolving Adaptability to Create Internationalized Accessible
   Multi-platform Web Services
      Gary Perlman ([log in to unmask])
          OCLC Online Computer Library Center

At OCLC I work on the FirstSearch service user interface, in
part on increasing the potential markets by offering French and
Spanish versions, improved support for accessibility, additional
functionality while maintaining support for low-end machines and
legacy browsers. To accomplish this level of adaptability, we have
developed some techniques for (1) separately specifying the
functionality, the language strings, and the display format, and
(2) setting parameters (e.g., dimensions, fonts, tables vs. lists)
based on browser version, availability of JavaScript, screen size,
etc. Web pages are dynamically constructed based on function, data,
and user options. The user interface architecture evolved over
time, with several periods of reworking sub-optimal choices. Even
when organized, there is a large cognitive overhead to developers
to separate form, function, and language.

To learn about techniques for increasing adaptability, I've found
it useful to explore features on volunteer-run services such as (1)
The HCI Bibliography site and search service and (2) a CGI
script for presenting accessible versions of a variety of usability
questionnaires in multiple languages.

2. Electronic Curbcuts to Motivate Universal Access: What You Can Do
      Michael Muller ([log in to unmask])
          Lotus Development Corporation

It is sometimes difficult to motivate companies to work toward
universal access, if they perceive the beneficiaries as a small and
relatively invisible minority. Many people in the disability access
communities have advocated the notion of "electronic curbcuts."
Electronic curbcuts work like physical curbcuts: They are
innovations that improve access for people with disabilities, but
that also benefit huge numbers of other people (the temporarily
able bodied, or TABs). I will describe some simple electronic
curbcuts and their extended benefits (e.g., closed captioning). I
will then propose a strategy that many of us can follow, to show
companies how improving accessibility for people with disabilities
can also lead to products and services with greater flexibility,
increased functionality, and expanded markets.

3. Once you get onto the Internet: How do you use it?
      Ann Marie Paulukonis ([log in to unmask])
          Michigan State University

While the rest of the presenters are tending to focus on issues
surrounding getting people to the technology, I am concerned about
what happens next: Just because someone has the computer or has
access to the internet does not mean they understand how to use it.
How can we identify what our users are bringing with them to this
new environment? As developers, how can we work with that
information to provide ramps to the new environment that they
understand? My present work is focusing on how to make online
courses accessible to those who are not familiar with the web.

4. Internationalization: Tailored or Homogeneous Products?
      John Armitage and Edward Guttman ([log in to unmask],[log in to unmask])
          Aaron Marcus and Associates, Inc. (AM+A)

Internationalization is really an issue of whether to pursue a
product strategy of tailored (localized) products, or homogeneous
(single-version) products. This is an ongoing, fundamental issue in
marketing and manufacturing of all products, but it is not
discussed as such in software design circles. Instead, there is a
focus on poorly localized products that contain awkward cultural
"signs". Also critical are the motivations of marketers and their
cost/benefit analyses for decisions.

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