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Re: Freedom of speech over right to access information

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@sidar.org>
Date: Fri, 10 Oct 2003 01:25:30 +0200
Cc: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
To: "Yvette P. Hoitink" <y.p.hoitink@heritas.nl>
Message-Id: <DF47AC80-FAAF-11D7-A532-000A958826AA@sidar.org>

One would expect it to work similarly in Australia. The right to 
Freedom of speech there is not nearly as big a deal as it is in the US. 
The High Court of Australia did find that people have a basic right to 
publish their thoughts in the ordinary course of events in one 
particular case, but that is nowhere near a constitutional principle 
that can be automatically argued - rather it is a common understanding 
of the rights of people in a modern society - the same sort of society 
that gives the right of equal (meaning equally effective) treatment to 
people regardless of disability.

This of course hasn't been tested as far as I know, but it certainly 
didn't strike the lawyers for SOCOG that it would carry any weight. It 
has been tested in architecture - a field where planning regulations 
are a bit like defamation law is in freedom of actual speech. To 
oversimplify, an historic building doesn't have to be torn asunder to 
put a wheelchair ramp in it, but an historically interesting building 
generally does (one of the parliament buildings was renovated a few 
years ago to allow access for someone in a wheelchair). If a building 
is created now, the claim that providing accessibility interferes with 
the architecture doesn't wash (although I forget the particular case 
that I once noted down).

So if we make a technical specification, about what is required to make 
things accessible, we could leave it up to different policy makers to 
decide if any of that can't be required because it interfered with 
other local political requirements. Which in democracies they will 
decide by consulting the people, and in other systems of government 
they will decide in other ways. (In case anyone didn't know, there are 
"police states" where accessibility is considered very important. 
System of government is somewhat outside the scope of WCAG...).

Cheers

Chaals

On Thursday, Oct 9, 2003, at 21:00 Europe/Zurich, Yvette P. Hoitink 
wrote:
(lots snipped)
> I think her suggestion to enforce the guidelines which possibly limit
> freedom of speech anyway unless the author claims his right to freedom 
> of
> speech is rather good. Such a claim can be encorporated into the
> accessibility statement of a website, explaining why certain parts do 
> not
> meet the guidelines. How does the rest of the group feel about this? I 
> hope
> we can discuss this later tonight.
>
--
Charles McCathieNevile                          Fundación Sidar
charles@sidar.org                                http://www.sidar.org
Received on Thursday, 9 October 2003 19:26:23 GMT

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