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FW: Further inaccuracy: New U.S. law requires Web sites to become "handicapped accessible"

From: Gregg Vanderheiden <gv@trace.wisc.edu>
Date: Sat, 15 May 1999 17:31:34 -0500
To: "GL - WAI Guidelines WG (E-mail)" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <002a01be9f22$b0f986c0$7236fea9@gregg>

-----Original Message-----
From: Karl Hebenstreit [mailto:karlhjr@moon.jic.com]
Sent: Friday, May 14, 1999 9:16 PM
To: news@freedomforum.org
Subject: Further inaccuracy: New U.S. law requires Web sites to become
"handicapped accessible"

This article is misleading in stating that the White House site fails Bobby.
While it is true that their graphical home page, http://www.whitehouse.gov,
does not "pass" the Bobby analysis, the White House does have a "text-only"
link as the first link on the page, which does "pass":  Bobby Analysis of
White House Text-Only page
The W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines ( Section 3.1:  Alternative
Pages <http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-WEBCONTENT-TECHS/#alt-pages> ) acknowledges
this use of an alternative page as an allowable practice, with the following
caveats (the relevant portions are provided below with my emphasis on the
strategic phrases):
Although it is possible to make most content accessible, it may happen that
all or part of a page remains inaccessible. Additional
techniques for creating accessible alternatives include:
1.Allow users to navigate to a separate page that is accessible and
maintained with the same frequency as the inaccessible original page.
Here are two techniques for linking to an accessible alternative page:
1.Provide links at the top of both the main and alternative pages to allow a
user to move back and forth between them. For               example, at the
top of a graphical page include a link to the text-only page, and at the top
of a text-only page include a link to the associated graphical page. Ensure
that these links are one of the first that users will tab to by placing them
at the top of the page, before other links.
While this is an acceptable practice, the Web Content guidelines provide
many techniques for addressing accessibility issues within a single version
of a website.  As should be obvious from the statements above, meeting the
"maintained with the same frequency"  requirement creates more work for
webmasters than applying the techniques offered by the Web Content
Your article also completely fails to mention other work being done by the
W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) <http://www.w3.org/WAI/> , namely
the "User Agent Accessibility Guidelines" and "Authoring Tool Accessibility
Guidelines" (see definitions below) which are in the "working draft" stage.
The last paragraph from the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Abstract
         "Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" is part of a series of
accessibility guidelines published by the Web Accessibility
         Initiative. The series also includes User Agent Accessibility
Guidelines ([WAI-USERAGENT]) and Authoring Tool Accessibility
         Guidelines ([WAI-AUTOOLS]).
 In conclusion, it is important to remember that 15 months is a long time in
software development (where a few months are commonly being referred to as
"web years").   To use the WAI terms, the  [Web Content] (aka "webmasters")
, [User Agents], and [Authoring Tools] all combine to provide the total web
environment.  These complementary guidelines are being developed to guide
browser developers, assistive technology developers, and web authoring tool
developers toward improving their products. By next August, it is highly
likely that there will be dramatic improvements in these other areas that
will reduce the webmaster's share of addressing accessibility.
Karl Hebenstreit, Jr.
Computer Specialist
Center for Information Technology Accommodation

User agent
              Software to access Web content, including desktop graphical
browsers, text browsers, voice browsers, mobile phones, multimedia players,
              plug-ins, and some software assistive technologies used in
conjunction with browsers such as screen readers, screen magnifiers, and
              recognition software. ( [WAI-USERAGENT]
<http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-USERAGENT/> )
Authoring tool
              HTML editors, document conversion tools, tools that generate
Web content from databases are all authoring tools. Refer to the "Authoring
              Tool Accessibility Guidelines" ( [WAI-AUTOOLS]
<http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-WEBCONTENT/#ref-WAI-AUTOOLS> ) for information
about developing accessible tools.
Received on Saturday, 15 May 1999 18:34:22 UTC

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