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Re: Author incentives for accessibility

From: Henrik Dvergsdal <henrik.dvergsdal@hibo.no>
Date: Fri, 18 May 2007 21:30:46 +0200
Message-Id: <1C80CB64-C45E-4CE7-9C70-130482E1C9F3@hibo.no>
To: public-html@w3.org


On 18 May 2007, at 12:51, Matthew Raymond wrote:

>   Out of curiosity, what accessibility features does OLPC have?

In itself it is more accessible in terms of cost. It is also less  
dependent on electric power which makes it more accessible in terms  
of external infrastructure. But my point was that projects such as  
OLPC will provide web access to regions where the rate of people with  
disabilities is probably higher than the current average. This in  
turn means that the presence and importance of disabled people on the  
web will increase in the years to come.

> if the law in any region places any serious accessibility burden on
> general web sites, the market will either lobby to have the law  
> repealed, ...

I really hope "the market" won't succeed in having accessibility  
legislation repealed anywhere. And I don't think it will. There are  
too many people who care about human rights.

> ... or they'll push the easiest technology for the developers
> that provides legally acceptable accessibility

I hope they will then be pushing HTML5. And I think they will,  
because it will provide superior accessibility features :-)

>  I'm not sure what you mean by data being "equally distributed"

I mean that most of us don't have the means to generate usage  
statistics of specific elements and attributes on the current web. If  
someone knows a way to search for sites using attributes such as  
"headers" in table cells or find the proportion of pages using such  
attributes, I'd be very interested in knowing about it.

> the two examples given boiled down to the following:
>
> 1) The 10% of the population that needs accessibility features justify
> whatever new markup is necessary.
>
> 2) The law requires a minimal level of accessibility.
>
>    Example #1 isn't necessarily true for two reasons. First, assistive
> technologies will evolve to support whatever the markup of the  
> Internet
> is. Therefore, a company or municipality may decide that the level of
> accessibility provided is sufficient, even though an assistive
> technology built into browsers and screen readers may do most of the
> work.

This is a classical fallacy of people not accustomed to the ideas of  
universal access. We do not want alienate people by forcing massive  
amounts of technology on them. We must strive to keep the need for  
assistive technology and markup translation at a minimum. This is the  
only way we can help people communicate and interact on an equal  
footing.

> Second, since that 10% of the market requires greater resources to
> tap, there [is] economic pressure not to support these individuals.  
> We have
> to make sure HTML5 markup doesn't create a law of diminishing returns
> relative do individuals with disabilities.

That's a good point. We should create constructs that work for  
everyone. And there should be no extra cost for creating accessible  
solutions.

>    Example #2 doesn't really make sense, because if you need to CREATE
> new markup in HTML5 to comply with the law, then that means the entire
> Internet currently breaks the law.

I don't follow your logic here. Please elaborate.

> Therefore, new markup probably won't
> ENABLE compliance with the law, because the law would be repealed long
> before the HTML5 spec would reach the recommendation stage.

Well, sometimes the real world doesn't follow HTML5 philosophy. We  
don't usually change laws just because they're not followed by a  
majority of the people. Typical example: tax legislation.

> Instead, new
> HTML5 markup should make it EASIER to comply with the law by making
> support for accessibility trivial to add to web pages.

That's another good point. We should make things as easy, intuitive  
and beautiful as possible. And, when people need to represent  
information that is inherently complex, we should also provide well  
crafted constructs that enable authors to do this in a way that is  
accessible to everyone.

> Are you suggesting that we design HTML5 around the accessibility  
> laws of
> every country and municipality on Earth? Because if that's the case,
> we're going to need a lot more lawyers on this mailing list...

No. If you read my post carefully, you will see that it was all about  
incentives. Laura claimed that good business practice, legislation,  
policies and social responsibility will constitute incentives towards  
creating accessible web pages in the future. Although this is not  
easy to predict, I think she's right. And I'm absolutely convinced  
that this claim shouldn't be flatly dismissed on grounds of current  
practice on the web.

Furthermore, if there is a chance that authors will actually care  
about accessibility (in its own right) in the future, I think we have  
a moral obligation to provide constructs that enable them to do so in  
practice.

--
Henrik
Received on Friday, 18 May 2007 19:30:46 GMT

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