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Re: WCAG and "undue hardship"

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 31 May 2000 09:04:17 -0400 (EDT)
To: pjenkins@us.ibm.com
cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.20.0005310837580.31343-100000@tux.w3.org>

one might think so. Unfortunately, the evidence suggest otherwise - with
technologies such as JFW and Windows (which are perhaps the single most
common combination discussed on this list) "localised" (i.e. non-english)
versions often lack important features for months or years.

I agree with you that having better quality software is a better solution
than requiring authors to go through too many hoops to compensate for what we
have. However, it is important to provide access to real people in the real
world, and "Until user agents.." (to borrow a phrase) measure up, and
authoring tools do too, to the extent that we can rely on people having
appropriate technology, there are problems that can be solved by authors (or
not, should they so choose).

The combination of a 486 machine running linux and screader or speakup is not
actually so rare in a community where unemployment or underemployment is the
majority experience. Even in the economically successful USA. On the other
hand, in Denmark the government pays for Jaws. And versioning lags
significantly by comparinson to the english language version.

Not only does everybody not want english, but through much of the middle
east, africa, and asia, the software is not just unable to produce anything
like an appropriate rendering (more so with braille than speech synthesis,
since contraction conventions vary, and only a handful of languages use the
same set of letters as english) - it is useless for arabic, indic, "CJK"
(chinese/japanese/korean), thai, greek, russian, serbian, as well as tonal
and many other alphabets. A similar problem arises for tonal languages like
vietnamese that use (heavily accented) latin alphabets, but where a different
intonation means a different word (ba means grandmother or three, ga means
fish or chicken...) And adding this kind of functionality does not come
cheap. Internationalising a piece of software requires robust design in the
first place, good knowledge of the particular language, and skill. The
problem is not in knowing how it should be done, the problem is in
actual implementation - rewriting masses of code because it assumed that a
single keypress could be used for a single character, or that text would be
left to right, or that accented text could be understood without the accents.


Charles McCN

On Tue, 30 May 2000 pjenkins@us.ibm.com wrote:

  Charles wrote:
  >I think Phill identifies the issues here fairly clearly, although I would
  >note that hte question of what is a reasonable approach for the US might
  >work so well in other countries, where the markeyt for and range of
  >technologies is much more limited. We should bear this in mind if we are
  >writing guidelines for a world wide web consortium
  Although the "market for" English versions of assistive technologies may be
  lower in other countries, [not everyone reads or wants English] most if not
  all assistive technologies available in the U.S. are also available world
  wide, just not available in the national language.   So where are the
  guidelines for assistive technology developers to "translate" their
  offerings?  Wouldn't it be more practical to "translate" the assistive
  technologies than to write guidelines that get added to legislation
  requiring all pages to be usable without such technologies in the national
  language?  The "making accessible" of existing governments web pages alone
  in each country could probably pay for the translation costs.
  Phill Jenkins,
  IBM Accessibility Center - Special Needs Systems
  11501 Burnet Rd,  Austin TX  78758    http://www.ibm.com/able

Charles McCathieNevile    mailto:charles@w3.org    phone: +61 (0) 409 134 136
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative                      http://www.w3.org/WAI
Location: I-cubed, 110 Victoria Street, Carlton VIC 3053
Postal: GPO Box 2476V, Melbourne 3001,  Australia 
Received on Wednesday, 31 May 2000 09:04:19 UTC

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