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Re: Bobby output daunting on accessible page from Alaska

From: David Poehlman <poehlman@clark.net>
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 10:34:57 -0400
Message-ID: <3923FF91.2EC9E683@clark.net>
CC: uaccess-l@trace.wisc.edu, Bruce Bailey <bbailey@clark.net>, Ana Gutierrez-Scholl <anaden1@alaska.com>, w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Hello Anne!
It's nice to see you back on the list after so long.  Please stay here and
work with us?

For the benefit of some who may not have encountered your issues before and
as a result of what seem to be new issues, I will turn this into a dialogue
below with my comments interspersed among parts of  your message and marked
with dp.

First though, I must tell you of my sadness that this message is not
pictorial.  As a blind person, I have some sense of the visual perspective
but could not begin to access the material that would make this message
useable by all as you suggest.
Anne Pemberton wrote:
<snipped>
>         To add to my dismay (which is compounded by the usual
> end-of-schoolyear-scambles), a friend who has been a strong advocate of
> accessibility for the disabled/blind online for many years, has been
> equally frustrated by the reluctance/refusal of blind web page creators to
 > make their web pages usable by sighted people.
dp I hope this is not a trend.  I myself am not reluctant nor do I refuse to
make pages accessable.  You may know however that blind people cannot
visualize in the same way as sighted people so they either get help or not
necessarily on purpose code their pages in ways that may not be as
attractive or pleasing as they might be.  I have not seen a "sighted" person
complain about the inaccessability of any web pages that I know of that were
created by the blind.  Of course, I can create black on black in a new york
minute and rant in it about all those terrible sighted people who refuse to
create pages in such a way as to provide meaningful and accessible layout
and content for all? 
> I remain very sympathetic to
> the critics of accessibility who point out that pages that comply aren't
> inviting to those who are visually-dependent, visually-oriented, or simply
> strong right hemispheric. Even the recent post from Greg V. puts the need
> for graphics on page at the beginning of the list of needs for the
> cognitively disabled. But it isn't a front-burner issue for the guidelines
> that are supposed to be accommodating ALL with disabilities. It is a sad
> reality.
dp last I looked, the WCAGWG (Web Content Accessability Guidelines Working
Group) was rechartering but they've probably finished by now.  They are
working on what will be 2.0.  Perhaps this would be  agood time for you and
others to join.  I fear though that as what you mention below indicates that
this is not a content issue in the way that we traditionally view content
unless the w3c adds a new device that is coding of alternate images for text
content.  so, we'll have images and other visual objects with alt text,
alternative images for the alternative text and so on?
> 
>         As I see it, the issue should be to FIX the equipment used by those who
> cannot see graphics, cannot used side-by-side coluns, and cannot read
> tables of information properly. It's probably unnecessary to say these
> tools were badly designed from the outset, but reality seems to suggest
> that the fix belongs there, not in developing endless fixes that reduce
> usability of web pages to visual users including those with disabilities
> that make them dependent on vision.
dp and on the other side of the coin, we have people crying out that their
pages should automatically come up talking in whatever browser they are
using because of cognative issues.  This is in no way suggesting that your
concerns are unfounded.  In fact, quite the opposite.  Many users of
assistive technology have more than one functional limitation.  For
instance, take the case of a person who is cognatively and visually
impaired.  Yes, they have some vision and can use it but they need things to
stand out and also to talk a bit.  There are products on the market that
achieve this.  Also, at developpers are well aware of the issues that are
show stoppers for at users and are working hard to correct them.  The bottom
line though is this.  All the wcag seeks to do is to examine the w3c html
4.01 specification and provide methods of implementing it that make
information that would be other wise <unavailable> available.  Perhaps what
we need is assistive technology that turns text into representative images. 
This should be less difficult than attempting to translate an image into
text where there is no text to begin with?   
> 
>         Well, this note has turned out to be more honest and straightforward than
> I had set out to write. I'll temper the flames it generates.
dp At first, I was angered by what I read here but decided because of our
long association and my regard for the issues you rais to wait a bit. 
Additionally, as I wrote, I realized that if it hasn't already, something
could possibly come out of this discussion that might more strongly address
the issues.  They say that necessity is the mother of invention and I
consider this to be a sexist statement but it is hardly challenged.  The
current correct wa to make this statement would be to say that necessity is
the parent of invention and this is a form of accessability if you will and
I agree that just as taking the beauty out of a web site can be done by some
who think that to make sites accessable subtraction rather than addition is
the rule, the old way is better.


There are many solutions and many roads to those solutions but you may know
that the gap between the functional requirements of a vision oriented user
and by oriented I mean non textual and a user with no vision or hearing
completely dependant on text and vibration is quite wide.  It is possible
though to solve these issues though so we must continue to strive toward
that goal.  The technology exists right now to solve many of these issues
but I'll let others address how that can be done by the creator and the
server.
Thanks!
> 
>                                 Anne
Received on Thursday, 18 May 2000 10:34:39 GMT

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