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Re: Higher Profile for Non-Blind Disabled Users

From: Anne Pemberton <apembert@erols.com>
Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2001 17:36:08 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: "Matt May" <mcmay@yahoo.com>, <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>, "Kynn Bartlett" <kynn@reef.com>

>As I said, the bias toward vision is simple: vision-related checkpoints are
>the most common and the most provable. Furthermore, if you asked anyone
>involved in the web whom web accessibility benefits, I'd bet that 90% would
>respond "the blind" as #1 or #2 unprompted. Why? Because they had to put all
>those alt tags in their sites.

That's because we ask web designers to accommodate the blind in the 
guidelines but then don't do much for anyone else with needs.

>In the legislative meetings I've been a party to, I know there's very little
>time to say something like, "well, Ms. Lawmaker, let me tell you a little
>about achromatopsia..."

Why would you pick something so obscure? Why not mention the needs of the 
cognitively disabled to have illustrations on the government sites so they 
can understand the information there?

>I also know that I've had to sell accessibility to
>executives in 30 seconds in the hall. Now, I'm confident that EO is
>well-versed in making the argument for all forms of disability, but if
>visually-impaired users are the easiest for people to conceptualize, and it
>causes accessibility as a whole to gain traction, so be it. It is a step
>forward, and that is what advocacy is all about.

Actually, as Kynn's post pointed out, other needs are being shut out by 
this "misunderstanding" .... but is it really a "misunderstanding", and 
what are we going to do to fix it?

>Anne, a rising tide lifts all boats. This has been my core value all along.
>I am not as concerned with perceptions related to disability and
>accessibility as I am with checkpoints that cannot reasonably and provably
>be satisfied, and the experience here in the U.S. shows that the legislators
>who have adopted portions of WCAG 1 agree with me. I would rather have a
>reasonable document that content providers will accept willingly than an
>ambitious document that will be picked apart, or a rigid document that won't
>be supported at all.

More than anything else, I am striving towards a "reasonable document" but 
we are miles apart on our perception of "reasonable".

It's really very simple to make the document "reasonable". Say the page 
must be illustrated. How much is enough? Well, one would be better than 
none (since it would give the disabled user a clue what the page is about 
so they can decide if its worth trying to read). So one is your measurement 
point. Simple. Sure someone could wiggle under the guideline by including a 
graphic of text that would pass a Bobby Test for a graphic. But someone 
could just as easily wiggle under the guideline by including a " " as an 
alt tag for something that needed words.

Actually, what I see happening is that if accessibility butts into the 
intended content, the content wins out over accessibility .... that's why 
is so difficult to find "accessible" multi-media on sites ... it's there, 
or it isn't, almost never does it have all the baggage that the guidelines 
say it must have ...

And, no, I don't think it's really going to work to say if we accommodate 
the blind, we can slide the rest in behind.        Look back in a history 
book and see what happened to the women and Indians who helped win the vote 
for the former slaves ... It was decades later before the women got their 
right to vote, and later still for the Indians.  No, that's a slippery 
slide that worries me, even if I consider the faster time frame now than 
then on rights issues ....

Seriously, Matt, we need to move forward on these issues instead of 
spinning philosophical and sociological cobwebs ... Put some thought to the 
idea of one per page/document as a bare minimum, full illustrations should 
be in accordance with the purpose and audience of the page/document/site as 
a whole. Once we say they must be there to pass accessibility, then we can 
begin to study the ways to help content developers and page designers make 
a well-illustrated page accessible to everyone ....


Anne Pemberton

Received on Wednesday, 22 August 2001 17:52:55 UTC

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