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RE: W3C Proposes Guidelines On Web Access

From: Waddell, Cynthia <cynthia.waddell@ci.sj.ca.us>
Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1999 09:44:27 -0800
Message-ID: <3EC0FC2EAE6AD1118D5100AA00DCD883027B65D4@sj_exchange.ci.sj.ca.us>
To: "EASI (E-mail)" <gv@trace.wisc.edu>, "'GL - WAI Guidelines WG'" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>, "'uaccess-l@trace.wisc.edu'" <uaccess-l@trace.wisc.edu>
Because the enclosed news article discusses US legal challenges arising out
of the Americans with Disabilities Act against web sites not incorporating
accessible design, I would like to clarify a point.  ADA legal challenges do
not require intentional discrimination.  The fact that the act occurred is
enough to prove a violation of a US civil right.  

In the case of inaccessible web page design, the fact that an inaccessible
website was posted is enough to prove disability discrimination.  It is
imperative that entities implement policies and procedures to enable the
removal of barriers at websites.  A good faith effort will be helpful in
defending ADA complaints against inaccessible websites.  But more
importantly, it makes good business sense to ensure compliance with the ADA
requirements for "effective communication" compliance.  As discussed in my
paper "Applying the ADA To the Internet:  A Web Accessibility Standard"
http://www.rit.edu/~easi/law/weblaw1.htm , the benefits of accessibility
extend beyond the community of disabilities.

The City of San Jose welcomes the W3C WAI Proposed Guidelines and encourages
the W3C members to approve these guidelines so that the the global digital
economy can truly be a marketplace for everyone, regardless of age,
disability or the limitations of their computer equipment.

Cynthia D. Waddell
ADA Coordinator
City Manager Department
City of San Jose, CA USA


---------------------------------
Cynthia D. Waddell   Cynthia.Waddell@ci.sj.ca.us
ADA Coordinator       City of San Jose, CA

801 North First Street, Room 460
San Jose, California 95110-1704
(408)277-4034
(408)971-0134 TTY
(408)277-3885 FAX


> ----------
> From: 	Gregg Vanderheiden
> Reply To: 	uaccess-l@trace.wisc.edu
> Sent: 	Friday, March 26, 1999 2:27 PM
> To: 	'Uaccess-L'; EASI (E-mail); 'GL - WAI Guidelines WG'
> Subject: 	FW: W3C Proposes Guidelines On Web Access
> 
> 
> 
> >From the web page
> http://www.newsbytes.com/pubNews/128454.html
> 
>                       NEWSBYTES(R) Top Story  
>                                               
> W3C Proposes Guidelines On Web Accessibility
> 
> 25 Mar 1999, 3:12 PM CST
> By Laura Randall, Newsbytes.
> CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, U.S.A.,
> 
>                                                                  
>   Charging that most Web sites don't provide adequate            
>   accessibility for users with disabilities, the World Wide      
>   Web Consortium (W3C) released draft guidelines on how Web      
>   site designers and managers can provide better access to all   
>   Internet users.                                                
>                                                                  
>   The guidelines, which were developed by the consortium's Web   
>   Accessibility Initiative, are aimed at creating greater        
>   awareness in the Web community of users who operate in         
>   contexts different from the average Web user, including        
>   persons who are visually or hearing impaired, those who        
>   cannot a keyboard or mouse and those using text- only          
>   screens.                                                       
>                                                                  
>   "The majority of large sites are not accessible to people      
>   with disabilities," Judy Brewer, director of the Web           
>   Accessibility Initiative, tells Newsbytes. "There's not a      
>   consistent level of awareness yet among Web developers that    
>   it's important to maintain accessibility of their sites."      
>                                                                  
>   The World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C, is an industry group    
>   that develops technologies used for the Web. Its hundreds of   
>   members include AT&T, America Online, IBM, Microsoft and       
>   SAP. Implementation of the guidelines is subject to member     
>   approval.                                                      
>                                                                  
>   The guidelines discuss accessibility issues and provide        
>   accessible design solutions. For example, one way to make      
>   Web sites more accessible is by using style sheets to          
>   control font styles and eliminating the font element. This     
>   gives hypertext markup language (HTML) authors more control    
>   over their pages and makes those pages more accessible to      
>   people with low vision.                                        
>                                                                  
>   Another guideline explains how content developers can make     
>   images accessible by providing a text equivalent that states   
>   the purpose of the image. This would allow a blind Internet    
>   user with a speech synthesizer installed on his computer to    
>   understand the function of the image. The total cost to the    
>   Web site designer has yet to be established, Brewer said.      
>                                                                  
>   Other groups are also pushing for improved accessibility on    
>   the Web. Disabilities Information Resources, a Trenton,        
>   N.J.-based organization, is urging Web site managers to        
>   voluntarily provide complete access to Internet users before   
>   anti-discrimination challenges arise in conjunction with the   
>   Americans with Disabilities Act.                               
>                                                                  
>   "We don't think it's intentional discrimination, but it        
>   would make more sense to address this before any problems      
>   arise," DINF spokesman Phil Hall tells Newsbytes               
>                                                                  
>   For the most part, Web sites large and small are unaware of    
>   the process involved in making their sites accessible and      
>   maintaining that accessibility, Brewer said.                   
>                                                                  
>   Jeff Thomas, director of marketing at iSyndicate, admits       
>   that accessibility isn't a top priority at the San             
>   Francisco-based Internet content service provider right now.   
>   But, he adds: "It's on our radar screen. It seems like         
>   something we would ethically want to do. The short-term        
>   answer is we aren't doing anything now. The long-term answer   
>   is it's definitely something we'd want to consider."           
>                                                                  
>   Reported by Newsbytes News Network, http://www.newsbytes.com   
>   .                                                              
>                                                                  
>   (1999032499/Contact: Phil Hall, Open City Communications,      
>   212-714-3575 /WIRES ONLINE/W3C/PHOTO)                          
>                                                                  
>                                                                  
>   Copyright (c) Post-Newsweek Business Information, Inc. All     
>   rights reserved.                                               
>   For more NEWSBYTES(R) see http://www.newsbytes.com             
>                                                                  
> 
Received on Monday, 29 March 1999 12:46:29 GMT

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