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Re: Labelling web page functionality for blind users

From: Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2000 21:54:07 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: Scott Luebking <phoenixl@netcom.com>
Cc: Web Content Accessiblity Guidelines Mailing List <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
aloha, scott!

to talk of quote stigmatization unquote and quote labelling unquote is a 
non sequitor...

the question isn't quote what's in a name or label unquote, it is quote how 
can one deliver content best suited to an individual's modality and 
personal preferences unquote, and in my opinion, quote disability profiling 
unquote is definitely _not_ the answer...

my opposition to your stance has nothing to do with the label blind, but 
with a quote one-size-fits-all unquote server-side approach to tailoring 
the presentation and ordering of content based on disability profiling...

i don't care what others call me (most of what i'm called falls into 2 
categories -- 4 or 12 letter words -- anyway), and i personally prefer to 
be called blind, rather than quote visually impaired unquote, a euphemism 
which has never made any sense to me, for (at least to my ears) it sounds 
as if it describes one of WCAG's main target audiences -- web designers who 
are so distracted by what they are looking at as they put together a site 
that they fail to realize that what an author sees (if he or she is capable 
of visual perception) is not necessarily what a user gets served up on his 
or her computer...

i do, however, object to being served up pages based solely upon such a 
monolithic and inflexible classification -- to my mind, it is as 
indiscriminate a way to serve content to a user as most of the 
browser-sniffing which is performed today, which simply searches for the 
string quote Mozilla unquote in the user agent header/declaration...

just my 2 cents,

At 04:01 PM 2/16/00 -0800, you wrote:
>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.
> >
> >Al

He that lives on Hope, dies farting
      -- Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1763
Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
    WebMaster and Minister of Propaganda, VICUG NYC
Received on Wednesday, 16 February 2000 23:45:55 UTC

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