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FW: comments to House Subcommitee

From: Gregg Vanderheiden <gv@trace.wisc.edu>
Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2000 00:27:53 -0600
To: "GL - WAI Guidelines WG \(E-mail\)" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <D088364DDC78D211B9CA00104B978B860AA329@nt.trace.wisc.edu>

I added the comments below  to those I sent to the House Subcommittee per
earlier email.

The complete comments are attached as a word file.


-- ------------------------------
Gregg C Vanderheiden Ph.D.
Professor - Human Factors
Dept of Ind. Engr. - U of Wis.
Director - Trace R & D Center
Gv@trace.wisc.edu, http://trace.wisc.edu/
FAX 608/262-8848
For a list of our listserves send "lists" to listproc@trace.wisc.edu

Clarification on whether Web accessibility will require removing pages from
the Web.

The suggestion was made during the hearing that 'hundreds of millions of
existing pages would be torn down' from the Web if there were requirements
for Web accessibility.

The Web relies on URL's being "persistent," in other words, having stable
addresses. W3C Recommendations emphasize building a stable Web for today and
for the future; no W3C Recommendation has ever suggested removing pages from
the Web, for accessibility or for any other reason. To do so would create a
far worse accessibility problem for Web users, including people with
disabilities, since people would encounter "dead links"-no information at
all-when trying to access pages that had been removed.

 If a site to which the ADA applied could not be made accessible with a
reasonable amount of effort, the undue burden provisions of the ADA would
apply, and no site would need to be removed.  Therefore this scenario is not
a logical consequence of requirements for Web accessibility.   It is not
what is being sought by the disability community and removal of pages if
there was not an undue burden to make them accessible does not make economic

Comment regarding the Internet and public accommodations.

During the hearing the assertion was made that the Internet was not a public
accommodation because the examples listed in Title III were all physical

It should be noted that the examples do not anywhere specifically say that
they must be physical places.   The actual terms used were  "place" or
"establishment".  In addition, of  the 12 examples listed in Title III all
but 3 of them are activities that are being carried out on the Web today.
The 3 that are not on the Web all require the physical presence of one's
body.   They are
(1)  an inn, hotel, motel; or other place of lodging, . . .
(2)  a restaurant, bar or other establishment serving food or drink;
(7)  a terminal, depots or other station used for specified public

Four of the 12 deal with entertainment and exhibition:
(3)  a motion picture house, theater, concert hall, stadium or other place
of exhibition or entertainment;
(8)  a museum, library, gallery or other place of public display or
(9)  a park, zoo, amusement park or other place of recreation;
(12)  a gymnasium, health spa, bowling alley, golf course or other place of
exercise or recreation.

The Internet is (or soon will be) a location of entertainment that is used
more than all of the listed examples in this area combined.   It is used for
viewing movies, concerts (live and recorded), watching games (live and
recorded) and exhibiting things of all types --- including collections from
museums and art galleries that are not otherwise viewable by the public.
There are libraries and entertainment sites of all types.  Many more and of
much greater variety than are available in any but one or two cities in the
US.    The only items in this list that are not available on the Internet
again are those things that require physical body presence.  And even here,
virtual reality sites are beginning to break new ground

The remaining examples cited are also all commonly available on the Web:
(4)  an auditorium, convention center, lecture hall or other place of public

The Internet has created a whole new categories of gathering places
including chat rooms, joint video meetings, distance education classrooms,
remote lecture halls and more

(5)  a bakery, grocery store, clothing store, hardware store, shopping
center or other sales or rental establishment;

Sales of goods and services via the Internet is well established and rising
quickly.  In many cases goods are available via the net that cannot be
obtained otherwise in local communities or via any catalog that a person
would have (or in many cases - that they would qualify to receive in  the
mail).  In addition, an increasing number of sales establishments exist only
on the Internet making access or use via any other means impossible.  Thus
the Internet not only an example of sales and rental establishments - but it
is an example of unique sales (and rental?) establishments that are not
otherwise available locally or at all.

(6)  a laundromat, dry cleaner, bank, barber shop, beauty shop, travel
service, shoe repair service, funeral parlor, gas station, office of an
accountant or lawyer, pharmacy, insurance office, professional office of a
health care provider, hospital, or other service establishment;

Although not all of the service establishments listed here are available on
the Internet, all those that do not require physical presence are.    Travel
services on the Internet are so good and cost effective for consumers that
they threaten local travel agencies.  They are also available at hours that
local agencies are not.  Accountants, lawyers, insurance and even medical
advice and care are available via the Internet.  Again, for  many
localities, there is no other local equivalent to what is available to a
person via the Web.

(10)  a nursery, elementary, secondary, undergraduate or postgraduate
private school, or other place of education;

The Internet is certainly a place of education.   Both formal, and informal
education is conducted via the Web.  And use of the Web is rapidly becoming
a requirement for any high or secondary school education.

(11)  a day care center, senior citizen center, homeless shelter, food bank,
adoption agency or other social service center establishment;

 Social services are increasingly being offered via the Web.  Again, it may
be the only way for people in outlying communities to access social service
information and services.

Received on Tuesday, 22 February 2000 01:25:25 UTC

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