[edu-team] [NLedu] Researching accessibility of Silverlight-based websites

Rikard Fröberg rikard at ffkp.se
Wed Jan 4 13:09:24 CET 2012

On Wed, 2012-01-04 at 11:06 +0100, Guido Arnold wrote: 
> Hello all and happy new Year!
Happy new year all!

> On Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 09:34:20AM +0100, Jan Verlaan wrote:
> > Op 30 nov 2011, om 08:53 heeft Jan Stedehouder het volgende geschreven:
> > I have done some test with online accessibility tools like
> > http://www.w3.org/WAI/RC/tools/complete on the full silverlight
> > based website http://www.mixteams.com/ but they all fall in error
> > due to a silverlight base website! The tools don't know how to
> > handle such a website.
> > That's not promising a good outcome for accessibility, resulting in
> > that we need to verify manually with a checklist.  I hope we can get
> > such a checklist from Iacobien Riezebosch soon.
> We can also ask around if there is any way for visually impaired
> people to draw something useful out of a silverlight based website.
> I doubt it. 
I hope it's OK to sneak into this thread with a reflection.

There is support for accessibility features in silverlight[1].

However, I'd like to share my initial reflection on silverlight and
accessibility for the web.

First, a website in silverlight is for obvious reasons only accessible
in the first place to people who run software that support silverlight.

If you want your site to be accessible to people regardless of their
using software that support silverlight or not, you'd need to develop an
accessible fallback site using other technology.

Second, you'll need to make sure that the developers of such a
silverligt site adhere to the accessibility coding features of
silverlight. If they don't they'll, need to learn how to do that and
rebuild/fix the site.

If you were to develop a fallback site with the same functionality as
the silverlight version, you could question if it is worth the effort to
actually do both, when an (X)HTML based solution would be useful to more
people on more platforms (and devices).

Using W3C standards such as WCAG for accessibility, you'd probably have
access to more developers maintaining and developing the web site, than
having the requirement of developers that both know accessible
silverlight techniques and WCAG (X)HTML and having to maintain the two
versions of the site in parallell.

Therefore, IMHO, choosing silverlight (or Flash etc), will probably slow
down development and raise the bar for keeping your site accessible (to
all). I see a risk of having at least one version of the site falling
behind in keeping it accessible.

Hope this is taken for what it is, just a reflection. It's not that I'm
hostile to new technology and a multitude of platforms. I just feel that
when it comes to accessibility, there is an argument for keeping down
the number of standards and platform to a minimum, so that we can use
what actually really works already and don't have to reinvent the wheel
starting from scratch with the accessibility work for each "new" tech.

WCAG and (X)HTML actually works quite well.

In hope of not preaching to the choir,

kind regards

Rikard Fröberg

1. Se for instance: 

> Greetings,
> Guido
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Rikard Fröberg, Projektledare
Föreningen fri kultur & programvara (FFKP) http://ffkp.se/
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