Accessibility is not subjective, it needs rules

Recently, I sat as an invited expert in an online seminar with other people, I can't reveal the topic. Ultimately, however, it was about improving the accessibility of web pages from web content. As always in such meetings, we had one person with us who held monologues for ages, I can understand Bodo Ramelow if he prefers to play Tetris in meetings like this. Ultimately, this self-help gentleman complained that accessibility requirements were often not implemented because they were not in the regulations. Individual complaints are not taken seriously. I also often hear that people have individual blind people who they would approach if they had questions. One of these blind people stated that accordions are generally not accessible, the statement is and always has been wrong. At this point I would like to briefly explain why personal opinions shouldn't play such a big role in accessibility.

Problem 1: Rules are inevitably a minimal compromise. They cannot and should not cover all scenarios, otherwise they would be as thick as the Berlin telephone book - and about as exciting to read. Incidentally, this is one of the reasons why German laws are becoming more and more complicated.

Problem 2 is that unless we want to go back to the 90's web, there is a certain level of complexity that is unavoidable. Then there is no online banking, no Amazon, no Audible and so on. You can and should make a lot of things easier, I've noticed that many times. The usability of many mainstream applications for the blind has gone from so-so to catastrophic. But we have to enter addresses, payment data and so on in an online shop. If you fail, you have no chance on the internet.

But the third and most important problem is making accessibility a subjective thing. X cannot handle application Y, so Y is not accessible. Chaos would be inevitable, because that would mean that every single comment would lead to instructions for action for those responsible. X can't handle white text on a black background, so let's change that to gray on blue. Z can't handle gray on blue, so we change that to green on brown. It can't work that way, but that's what it boils down to.

I understand that some people fail because of technology - honestly, that happens to me several times a day. Yes, it's totally frustrating. Nevertheless, the problem is often enough in front of the screen. The persons concerned must be trained to such an extent that they are able to carry out the most important tasks independently, provided that the website/software has been programmed to be accessible. There are rules for that. Feedback should also be taken into account, but not the feedback of individual people, but the overall feedback of a larger number of people.

Assistive Technology