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FW: Congressional Hearings on ADA and the Web

From: Jim Allan <allan_jm@tsb1.tsbvi.edu>
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000 08:05:45 -0600
To: WAI-EO <w3c-wai-eo@w3.org>
Message-id: <NBBBIBAJLBJPFGFFMBMEGEJJDLAA.allan_jm@tsb1.tsbvi.edu>
as per Harvey's request

Jim Allan, Statewide Technical Support Specialist
Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
1100 W. 45th St., Austin, Texas 78756
voice 512.206.9315    fax: 512.206.9453  http://www.tsbvi.edu/
"Be BOLD and mighty forces will come to your aid." Basil King

-----Original Message-----
From: Jim Allan [mailto:allan_jm@tsb1.tsbvi.edu]
Sent: Friday, February 11, 2000 9:58 AM
To: Smith,Steven L; PESO
Cc: Roy Wright
Subject: RE: Congressional Hearings on ADA and the Web


I must comment on this article. It seriously misrepresents the W3 WAI
guidelines, their use, and sows fear, uncertainty, and doubt in the worst
manner. I will review the article below...my comments preceded by **jma:

Jim


Does disabilities act apply to cyberspace?

By Patrick Thibodeau
02/09/2000 WASHINGTON — A U.S. House of Representatives committee heard
conflicting arguments today over whether the Americans with Disabilities Act
(ADA) applies to virtual space in much the same way it now applies to
physical spaces.

The U.S. Department of Justice believes the ADA, a law that prohibits
discrimination against people with disabilities, does apply to Web sites,
and the federal government is expected to issue accessibility requirements
directed at federal departments and agencies by March.

Federal Web site operators will have to make a number of changes to comply
with these regulations, such as including streaming audio or audio files to
accompany text.

**jma: No where do the guidelines state or even imply this.

The rules may also require captioning for video

**jma: yes they require this.

and restrict the use of color to display information.

**jma: This is a _gross_ misrepresentation of the guidelines. The guidelines
say ""Do not use color __alone__ to convey information". You can use color
and graphics and more, just label it. The reason for this guideline is the
scenario: "press the green button below to continue" where the "green"
button does not have the word "green" written on it or in the alt tag.

Web sites will also have to provide formats that are compatible with
braille- and speech-synthesis devices.

**jma: YES! this is called "text"

Other provisions may ban touch screens and prohibit moving text and
animation unless there are no alternatives.

**jma: I don't know where this comes from.

U.S. Rep. Charles Canady (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Judiciary
Committee's Constitution Subcommittee, said the federal effort "can help
serve to educate both the public and private sectors (about) how greater
handicapped accessibility of the Web can be achieved with relatively
low-cost solutions."

But legal experts testifying before the committee were divided on whether
the ADA will apply to Web sites.

The matter is already in court. Last fall, the National Federation of the
Blind filed a class-action lawsuit against America Online Inc., charging
that the company's service violated the accessibility law (see story).

"What we need is achievable; what we are asking for is reasonable," said
Gary Wunder, a programmer/analyst at the University of Missouri and a board
member of the National Federation of the Blind.

Wunder described his own work-related efforts to use software that isn't
adapted to needs of the blind. For instance, some key project-management
software uses color codes to identify critical projects, making it difficult
for him to use the software, he said.

"I took a demotion from manager to programmer because of this kind of
software," he said.

Judy Brewer, director of the Web Accessibility Initiative at the World Wide
Web Consortium, told the committee that ADA compliance costs are negligible
and that "much of Web accessibility is a matter of good design."

But Dennis Hayes, the creator of the Hayes modem and now chairman of the
U.S. Internet Industry Association, urged the committee to focus on
voluntary efforts through standards bodies, rather than on regulation.

**jma: the W3C is an industry supported body. All members had input,
reviewed, commented, and agreed to the content of the guidelines.

"It will take years to work out in courts how the ADA will apply," said
Hayes. "In those same years, the standards can proceed much more rapidly."

Moreover, Hayes said webmasters lack the experience and tools to create Web
sites that meet the needs of the disabled.

**jma: this is true. Ameliorating the lack of experience and education of
webmasters is purpose of the Education and Outreach working group.  Have
tools that create accessible content was the purpose of the Authoring Tools
working group, their guidelines are now a full W3 recommendation. Many
authoring tool creators have stated they will implement the guidelines.

The legal issues remain to be sorted out.

Elizabeth Dorminey, an attorney at Wimberly, Lawson Steckel Nelson &
Schneider PC in Athens, Ga., said the ADA applies to private entities that
provide "public accommodations" -- a term that doesn't include the Internet,
Internet service providers or private Web sites.

**jma: Does "public accommodation" mean e-commerce sites, or are they
intended for the private use of only able-bodied people.


Jim Allan, Statewide Technical Support Specialist
Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
1100 W. 45th St., Austin, Texas 78756
voice 512.206.9315    fax: 512.206.9453  http://www.tsbvi.edu/
"Be BOLD and mighty forces will come to your aid." Basil King

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-peso-wg@lists.state.tx.us
[mailto:owner-peso-wg@lists.state.tx.us]On Behalf Of Smith,Steven L
Sent: Thursday, February 10, 2000 1:39 PM
To: PESO
Subject: Congressional Hearings on ADA and the Web


A brief report on hearings yesterday:

http://www.computerworld.com/home/print.nsf/CWFlash/000209E812

Note the possibility that Federal Web sites will have to include streaming
audio or audio files to accompany text.

Steve Smith
DHS
Received on Friday, 18 February 2000 09:15:04 GMT

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