I have a preference for the way accessible web-mapping is presented and I think I need to put it out there.  I have had this “argument” with other developers on my team (you know who you are), and while I understand their viewpoint, I am leaning toward the opposite camp.

Call me a dreamer, but I would like to work towards an interface that doesn’t separate the two streams of users that I am addressing here with my research, the visually impaired, and everyone else.  I think that to truly make the web accessible to all, then there should be no division.  I mean sure, you should have the ability to choose your preferences, and tailor your web experience in a way that best suits you, but I don’t think that it should be two totally separate applications.

I see the textual description as a complement to the visual map, an enhancement.  As a sighted user, I may also want to interact with the textual component, not just the visual map and vice versa.  May I remind you that visually impaired does not only include people who are blind.

But will this approach to design create an application that in the end, just frustrates all users?  This is a risk, and maybe the fact of the matter is that it would be better for all users to have the seperate streams.  I don’t technically know the answer, I just have a personal ideal solution..and it’s my research, I can conduct it how I want to, can’t I?  I will look into it to see if there has been any research done on this and keep you posted.  But in the meantime, you could put in your 2 cents…