After a few hundred workshops dedicated to web quality, a simple observation: even the most basic terms, which designate entire areas of our activity, are misunderstood. Take the term “accessibility”. Because we have our heads in the sand, we tend to think that everyone understands what it means. In practice, with professionals and a fortiori the general public, this word is understood very differently by the interlocutors.
- When we talk about accessible content or a site, some of the people we talk to will understand that the content and the site are accessible from anywhere in the world or simply available online.
- Another part will rather hear that the content and the site are simple to understand.
- A (small) part, finally, will know that the content and the site are accessible to disabled people.
On the web, we have been fighting for about twenty years on this last meaning of the term, in other words: when we talk about accessibility in our sector, we are indeed talking about the accessibility of web content to people with disabilities.
While from our point of view as specialists or experts in the sector, the priority is to make sites accessible, on the other side of the fence, a huge majority of professionals and of course laymen do not understand what this subject is. They don’t know the user contexts that the experts are talking about, and they don’t even know the meaning of their work. And we may have here one of the keys to the lack of consideration of this subject.
What to do in practice? For my part, in all the workshops and training courses, I try to clarify things: I always try to associate the term accessibility with disabled people. I try to avoid the term “accessible” when talking about a website in general or the simplicity of its content. There are many players who offer training and services specifically dedicated to accessibility, and I have no doubt that they too are careful to specify what we are talking about. For our part, we are exploring another path: the work of Opquast is to use the transversal approach of Web quality to bring the whole sector to a minimum level of understanding of the subject, of the word itself. The different approaches are complementary.
Other common terms in our disciplines pose similar problems: for example, “performance”, understood in terms of speed by developers and in terms of e-commerce turnover by marketing teams and managers. If you can think of any other terms, I’d love to hear them.
In any case, I have one certainty: the maturity of our sector will depend on mastering a common vocabulary. Every day that passes shows me that this is where a large part of the added value of the Opquast certification