CEO at Segala
06 July 2005 13:18pm
I’m delighted to read about agencies who redesign websites that are ‘more’ accessible than the original as this is a step in the right direction. After reading the news release about the new national trails website  I decided to take a look for myself to see what it was all about. My first impressions were good but without commenting on whether or not the site meets the claimed WAI ‘A’ status or if I think this level of compliance is good enough, I do feel obliged to ask agencies to stop relying on Bobby for ‘approval’ as stated on this particular site.
I fear for the end-user client who thinks having a website that passes a Bobby test or any other automated tool when used in confinement actually validates their compliance with the WAI guidelines. Bobby is one of many tools (others can be found on the Web and downloaded for free) that's very useful for performing a high-level preliminary test, but nothing more.
One example why you shouldn’t rely on Bobby:
Misuse of alt tags is one of the most common mistakes made by even the most experienced Web designers. (An alt tag is a piece of code that describes an image to a screen reader.) Although tools like Bobby can verify whether alt tags are used, it's impossible for the tool to verify the meaningfulness of the description. In other words, if a website has an image of an orange and it contains an alt tag, Bobby will still pass this test even if the tag says the image is a bunch of bananas. To learn more about how to write effective alt tags visit a very good article written by Trenton Moss who describes them in more detail. 
May I please request all Web designers to stop relying on Bobby as their means of assessing a website's compliance for accessibility, because they're leaving clients open to potential litigation?
 Referenced news release
 How to write effective Alt tags
Global Enterprise Solutions Manager at Dell
07 July 2005 12:29pm
I have to agree here. This clearly shows that there is still a big misunderstanding, even amongst those who are attempting to meet the WAI guidelines. As Paul has stated, Bobby is one of many tools, and in isolation can not guarantee or assure even the A compliance level.
Automated tools on their own can account for about 40-50% of the requirements, the rest can only be done with manual testing. Any agency who is advising that a Bobby test is sufficient is leaving you exposed.
No single tool can validate your site to any level of compliaqnce on its own.
If you are responsibile for a website, so NOT take the advice of your agencies or suppliers (we have found that to me unreliable). Find out for yourselves because it is your necks on the line...
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