W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > July 2007

conflation of issues or convergence of interests?

From: Gregory J. Rosmaita <oedipus@hicom.net>
Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2007 09:41:59 -0400
To: public-html@w3.org, Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>, wai-xtech@w3.org
Message-Id: <20070727133806.M6853@hicom.net>

lachlan wrote, quote:
This is why we should avoid conflating accessibility issues with 
technological barriers, i18n issues, and whatever else.  There is no 
one-size-fits-all solution, and it doesn't help to pretend that one can 
be developed.
unquote

could you clarify precisely what you mean?  the purpose of HTMLx is to 
ensure that the web is usable for everyone -- from someone with a very
slow connection and a text-browser to someone who cannot see or use 
their hands to interact with a computer...

accessibility has always been the canary in the W3C coalmine -- what 
you and others fail to grasp is that there IS cross-over between 
internationalization issues and interoperability issues and general 
usability; no one is looking for a one-size-fits-all solution, as 
that runs counter to the whole concept of accessibility, which is in
the eye, ear, fingertip, or whatever else is available to the user...

accessibility issues ARE technical issues -- that's why the Web 
Accessibility Initiative exists -- to ensure that there are multiple
solutions AVAILABLE to the user in order to fit the users' needs;
no one is pretending to have a one-size-fits all solution, but if 
a solution can provide for better accessiblity, better usability, 
better internationalization, and is platform neutral, why should it 
not fall under the HTML WG's purview -- yes, we as a working group 
can't fix flash, but there are those working with it's developers 
on making it more accessible, but in the interim, the fact remains 
that there is a need for equivalent alternative content, which it is 
this WG's responsibility to provide the mechanisms for embedding and
exposing equivalent alternatives, INCLUDING the option to have a 
side-by-side rendering of the image AND it's description...

no, one size never fits all, but we are not attempting to fix the world,
just the world wide web, and in order to do so, we need to have 
alternative mechanisms with multiple methods of exposition, which are 
tailorable, and which provide equal functionality for anyone anywhere...

it's not an either/or proposition -- accessibility, internationalization,
and interoperability MUST be considered at EVERY stage of the development
process, in order to avoid awkward after-the-fact semi-solutions that 
merely pass the buck from the web-based technology to a third-party 
assisstive technology; there is nothing magical about speech synthesis, 
screen magnification or speech input -- they are all equally valid means 
of interacting with a web application, and as such, must be addressed, 
and taken into consideration during all our deliberations...

that is why so many of us who have worked predominantly in the 
accessibility field, dealing with gaping perceptual black holes and 
other barriers erected by others, are committed to ensuring that one's
web experience is NOT predicated on proprietary plugins -- if a 
functionality exists which is currently only addressed by a proprietary 
application or plugin, then it IS the purview of the HTML WG to ensure
that an individual's experience of the web not be compromised by the 
use of third-party plugins WITHOUT the markup language which is used 
to embed them providing a native fallback mechanism to provide equal 
functionality and content...

i also take issue with your example of downloading movie trailers -- 
that trivializes the issue -- those of us with disabilities are trying
to communicate with one another, with the wider world, make a living, 
and get and hold a job, all of which is predicated upon the use of 
standards that promote accessibility, internationalization, and 
interoperability...  compared to that, watching a movie trailer 
downloaded from the web exposes your argument as the logical straw man 
that it is...

what puzzles me is why there is such a fear of accessibility issues; the 
question is moot -- the W3C has made a commitment to making the web 
accessible to all, regardless of the reasons why it is not currently 
accessible to all, through the establishment of the Web Accessibility 
Initiative, just as it has committed itself to the pursuit of 
internationalization and quality assurance...

if accessibility is to be achieved, it must be considered from the very 
outset, and continually serve as a guiding principle, for what is 
accessibility other than a sub-set (or super-set) of usability?  the 
model of finding solutions after the fact has failed repeatedly in the 
past; the WAI was established PRECISELY to avoid this vicious 
developmental cycle which is more of a whirlpool to those caught inside 
it...

gregory.
  --------------------------------------------------------------
  BIGOT, n.  One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an 
  opinion that you do not entertain.           -- Ambrose Bierce
  --------------------------------------------------------------
               Gregory J. Rosmaita: oedipus@hicom.net
  Camera Obscura:             http://www.hicom.net/~oedipus/
  Oedipus' Online Complex:    http://my.opera.com/oedipus/
  United Blind Advocates for Talking Signs: http://ubats.org/
  --------------------------------------------------------------
Received on Friday, 27 July 2007 13:43:08 GMT

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