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Re: PICS and accessibility

From: Judy Brewer <JBrewer@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 21 Jan 1998 11:21:34 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Liddy Nevile is on the road, & has seen some of these e-mails but not been
able to respond yet.  So I will try to summarize her reaction, & then let
her speak for herself when she gets back on line more.  

Yes, this discussion better suits the Rating & Certification Interest Group
for which Liddy is developing a charter.  But given that the list isn't up
yet, this discussion has served as a good airing of some issues, also ones
she is considering.  The RC IG (name still may be changed) will be looking
at a variety of ways to accomplish evaluation and/or validation of
accessibility, so PICS is not a "given" as the tool in this area.

I'd like to ask people at this point to send additional comments directly
to Liddy at liddy@rmit.edu.au rather than to continue extensive discussion
on this topic on this list.  Once the Call for Participation goes out for
that Interest Group, which should be within the next several weeks, those
interested can pursue the discussion there.



At 09:29 AM 1/21/98 -0500, Mike Paciello wrote:
>I'd like to second Joshs' note that this discussion better suits the
>PICS-WG and Libby Neville. 
>Having said that, I'll voice my meager opinion anyway...There is a
>fundamental question, perhaps two or three that really need to be answered
>in light web usage and PICS:
>1. Why? What *real* purpose would it serve? What is goal are we really
>trying to achieve?
>2. What is the inherent benefit of PICS in light of accessibility -- a tool
>or a rating system?
>3. Are there other alternatives?
>(Actually, that's 5 questions, isn't it...)
>I've thought about this lately, particularly as a result of the discussion
>thread. I am not convinced that a PICS based service will really do
>anything as a certification or rating system -- unless perhaps someone is
>in the business of certifying or rating web sites. Seems to me that those
>services died a long time ago. Fewer and fewer sites included the Magellen
>or Top 5% logo's anymore. Perhaps those in the writing business would see
>similar value....but I doubt anyone else, particularly from a business
>standpoint would.
>Rather I see it's intrinsic value as an accessibility tool. Something that
>can be developed concurrent with imbedded authoring tool accessibility
>wizards and functionality. It would help those of us who are in the
>business of helping others make their sites accessible. I realize that this
>is less proactive in nature...but I think it's the more practical approach. 
>For example, at every workshop/seminar I conduct, webmasters and site
>administrators always ask me the same two questions: What authoring tools
>support accessible design and what applications/utilities can be used to
>expedite the process of improving web site accessibility. Everyone seems
>eager to do it...they just want access to the tools to automate the process
>With that in mind, one would question whether the current functionality of
>PICS is really valuable to accessibility. Accessible content isn't about
>the kind of content (i.e., pornography) but rather how that content is
>constructed in order to view it (or render it in an alternative format). As
>I noted above, what is it that we want to really achieve? It's not the
>words...it's the ability to read those words. Right?
>- Mike
>At 08:36 AM 1/21/98 -0500, Josh Krieger wrote:
>>Other than a boolean rating like, i.e. "this site does/does not 
>>contain pornography," it is extremely difficult to devise a rating 
>>system in which two people answer the same way, and probably even
>>more so with accessibility since there are so many different
>>definitions of it. I suspect that if we are to try and create a 
>>PICS based accessibility rating system, it needs to encompass both a 
>>human judgement of accessibility AND an automated judgement of 
>>accessibility. Does anyone know of examples where people 
>>have actually created a PICS rating system and applied it
>>by automated or human methods to rating large numbers of sites?
>>I wonder what some of the experiences are.
>>As far as restricting access by an automated tool, that's what search
>>engines do.
>>BTW, This is a good discussion for the ratings and certification
>>+ Josh +
>>Mike Burks wrote:
>>> I don t think that any automated tool alone can make that kind of
>>> Anything that restricts the flow of information is pernicious as far as
>I am
>>> concerned.  To me the first level of accessibility is being able to get to
>>> the site...if the tool says NOPE this site is not accessible, does that
>>> that valuable information is not there?
>>> Anything that automatically restricts access to information chills me
to my
>>> soul.  The expostulations that I am being paranoid do not comfort me in
>>> least.  The weight of historical evidence supports the conclusion that
>>> censorship in any form is not a good thing.
>>> Sincerely
>>> Mike Burks
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.EDU.AU>
>>> To: WAI Interest Group <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
>>> Date: Tuesday, January 20, 1998 1:23 AM
>>> Subject: PICS and accessibility
>>> >It may be of interest, given that PICS is under discussion, to note that
>>> >there has been some consideration of its use as a means of labeling web
>>> >sites with respect to their degree of accessibility to people with
>>> >disabilities. How useful do members of this group think that such labels,
>>> >particularly if they were made by a party other than the creator of the
>>> >site, would be to people with disabilities? Would it be helpful to have
>>> >the option of restricting search engines or other tools just to sites
>>> >which possess a high accessibility rating? What other applications of
>>> >content labels would be useful in the area of accessibility? Should the
>>> >WAI develop a PICS labeling system with which web sites could be
>>> >classified?
>>> >
>>> >
>>> >
>Michael G. Paciello                      Executive Director, 
>E-Mail: mailto:paciello@yuri.org         Yuri Rubinsky Insight Foundation
>Tel: +1 603 598 9544                     URL: http://www.yuri.org/
>FAX: +1 603 598 2839                     Promoting Accessibility Awareness!
>Please Make a Tax-Deductible Donation:   http://www.yuri.org/donate.html
>Charitable Registration Number (8867 - 3639 - RR0001)
Judy Brewer   jbrewer@w3.org     617-258-9741
Director, Web Accessibility Initiative International Program Office
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
MIT/LCS Room NE43-355
545 Technology Square, Cambridge MA 02139 USA
Received on Wednesday, 21 January 1998 11:20:52 UTC

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