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Re: Accessibility: Re: Path to Last Call (was closing various issues)

From: Tab Atkins Jr. <jackalmage@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 31 Aug 2009 12:48:44 -0500
Message-ID: <dd0fbad0908311048g1d301ebaw3cfad1e0884e7755@mail.gmail.com>
To: William Loughborough <wloughborough@gmail.com>
Cc: Jim Jewett <jimjjewett@gmail.com>, HTML WG Public List <public-html@w3.org>, wai-xtech@w3.org
On Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 12:24 PM, William
Loughborough<wloughborough@gmail.com> wrote:
> I don't speak for anyone but one old geezer so take the following with that
> caveat.
>
> Most people in the "Accessibility Group" (I really hate that sort of
> labeling because everybody claims to be, and should be in that "group") are
> only minimally programmers and even less developers. They are far more
> passionate about all this so tend to rant a lot, particularly when it's
> their most cherished symbols (alt, longdesc, etc.) that SEEM to be being
> "threatened", even when others don't see any real threats being made. I am
> probably one of the worst offenders in this regard and I make no apology for
> said passion. I've been working in this field for close to half a century
> and the gains have really been very hard won and on the whole rare.
>
> I know that those you mention are trying to reach out, but it's fairly clear
> that until the A11y Group are convinced that they REALLY care about these
> matters at a visceral level, rather than a "talk the talk" one, it's almost
> impossible to give their efforts much credence. I'm sorry about that part
> but I hope it's understood because it's quite a bit reminiscent of the 1930s
> religious bigots' excuse: "some of my best friends are Jews" or the child of
> a Klansman excusing himself from Civil Rights matters with : "I never owned
> slaves." I still don't know if any of the programmer/developers have truly
> walked in our shoes by going at least a full day without using monitor or
> mouse, e.g. That experience is sort of revealing and even mind-blowing and I
> recommend it highly. Knowing it in an intellectual sense is quite different
> from experiencing it. A frequent metaphor is much of this for PWD is like
> "reading through a straw".
>
> I don't really know how many of my "colleagues" side with me in this
> analysis about how we seem to be like ships passing in the night. I hope,
> however fruitlessly, that this helps.

This would be that "talking past each other" thing that Jim mentioned.
 We *know* that it's important.  But your average author *doesn't give
a shit*.  Evangelism is only *barely* effective, and it only reaches
that level when used on features that are really simple like @alt.

Jim's point about authors being lazy about this stuff holds *no matter
what*.  It doesn't matter how much you care.  It doesn't matter how
important it is.  It doesn't matter how unusable much of the web is to
people browsing with ATs.  None of this affects the basic premise
that, in general, authors won't do a thing about it if it doesn't
offer them tangible benefits in visual rendering or mouse-based
interaction.

That's why automatic solutions are being offered so much, and why we
so desperately need feedback on what is acceptable and helpful in
these types of solutions.

Protests about how important it is don't help.  Offensive
characterizations of the "other side" comparing them to racists
*really* don't help.  We need data, user studies, and feedback.
That's what will create progress and make the situation better.
Nothing else will.

~TJ
Received on Monday, 31 August 2009 17:49:45 GMT

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