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Re: Labelling web page functionality for blind users

From: Scott Luebking <phoenixl@netcom.com>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2000 16:01:12 -0800 (PST)
Message-Id: <200002170001.QAA14368@netcom.com>
To: asgilman@iamdigex.net, phoenixl@netcom.com
Cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Hi, Al

I was taking a hypothetical stance.  Basically, I was asking how
would he explain to the world why some features/options designed for
blind users should not be labelled so.

Have you looked at the control panel for windows 95/98?  There is
an icon marked accessibility options.  From my experience as a disabled
person and from comments I've heard from various blind people,
marking features as being appropriate makes it much easier to find
the features which would be of greater interest.  As one blind man
told me, it can be hard for a blind person to find things.  Anything
which helps to simply the searching process would seem to be of benefit.
(Watch blind people trying to find things on a web page.)

Indicating some feature as being of interest to a blind user is
more informative than not doing that and there is not equivalent.

A question to ask is whether it is more important to make a process easier
for a blind person by appropriate labelling or let them waste work/study
time in order not to single them out.  Using a dog or cane already
singles them out.  Maybe it's just the blind people I know, but
the feedback I'm getting is that ease of use would seem to be more


>>On Fri, 11 Feb 2000, Scott Luebking wrote:
>>  Hi, Gregory
>>  Suppose that you were appearing before a congressional sub-committee.
>First off, from my perspective this would be a waste.  The NFB and ACB can
>take care of talking to Congress.  We can't waste technical talent like
>Gregory on that.  We need him working at .com intensity on synthesizing the
>better answer for how to do it.  Not dickering over what to call it.
>>  How would you argue before them why no functionality provided on
>>  web pages should be labelled as being appropriate for blind users?
>There are two basic reasons:
>One is that this is not very descriptive.  The appropriateness of page or
>site functions for users depends on more things than their level of visual
>function.  It would be better to describe what the page function actually
>does, so blind and sighted users alike can better discern for themselves if
>they want to use the function.
>The other is the labeling issue.  For better or for worse a lot of people
>carry around in their hearts a negative stigma attached to blindness.  Many
>blind people have internalized this.  So if two ways to describe the
>functionality are equally
>informative, it is still better to avoid the stigmatized language.
>>  Why would this be of benefit to most blind web users of various levels
>>  of computer/web sophistication?
>A more descriptive designation than "good for blind" would be better for
>blind users because they could better tell if it were really good for
>_them_.  And it would be better for sighted users because they, too would
>have a better clue on which to choose to use or not use that function.  And
>it would be better for the blind users because not so many of them would be
>offended by being singled out on the basis of what they may feel is an
>infirmity, or may feel is looked down on by others.
>>  Scott
Received on Wednesday, 16 February 2000 19:01:25 UTC

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