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From: Suzan Dolloff <averil@concentric.net>
Date: Wed, 04 Mar 1998 09:52:58 -0600
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Hello, everyone.

My name is Suzan Dolloff, although I am generally called Re (rhymes with
"hay") by people who know me. I have been reading this list with great,
somewhat desperate, interest for several weeks now and decided it was time
to make my presence known. Please excuse my faux pas if the subject matter
is inappropriate to this list and attribute it to not knowing of a better
forum to which I could address this. I ask your forebearance, as well, with
the length. I tend to babble when I am nervous! <shaky grin>

The Internet became my lifeline to the world six years ago when I became
disabled as a result of a neurological condition which has since evolved
into a brain tumor, said brain tumor now causing me periodic bouts of
blindness which will eventually become permanent. As my illness progresses,
I become more of a shut-in, and this has made my computer and the world it
affords me even more valuable.

Four years ago, I was introduced to the World Wide Web. HTML and web-page
design soon followed. Like many "designers," I began with a WYSIWYG HTML
editor and a tolerant browser that would excuse most boo-boos and render
something close to the effect I had in mind. I imagine some of you
chuckling to yourselves when I tell you of my dismay in learning not all
web browsers are created equally, and omigosh, you mean people with low-res
monitors aren't seeing the same thing I see on my high-res monitor? Whaddya
mean, they have a horizontal scroll bar? Ack! That's awful! And egads,
what's with all that *underlining* in Lynx of the text I'd tagged as
bold?!? That led me to the HTML Writers Guild which, in turn, led me to the
W3C. Validated HTML? Instant convert and zealot! There are not enough hours
in the day for me to preach its importance! While I'd heard of the Web
Accessibility Initiative, I must admit I didn't take much of an interest
until I discovered I'd *have* to. Alas, I believe this is the attitude of
most people who are not directly involved or in need of what its purpose
does, and will, provide to abled and disabled users alike. This does not
necessarily make anyone a villain, you understand, just...unenlightened. 

Okay, so why am I writing you now? Several reasons. As one who is
relatively new to disability, I'm just grateful you're out there! I'm
thrilled to know people have been busy thinking about things I'd never
before had to consider, researching and developing assistive and adaptive
technology I never, ever, expected I'd one day need for myself, and that's
just for the stuff that allows me to navigate my way through my home, or
continue cooking my own meals, or walk to my mailbox and find out I may
already be a millionare. <snort><yeahright><cheesy, but eternally hopeful
grin> To know that you who participate in the WAI have been hard at work
discussing and designing tools and techniques that will keep my computer
from becoming a very large paperweight while I sit in the dark with
dust-bunnies the size of kangaroos and crying about being cut off from the
only world I have...well! My gratitude exceeds the limitations of language.

It also renews my determination to remain a part of the world that has
become so important to me, to participate at whatever level I can to effect
changes which benefit me personally, sure, but also people whose needs are
just as profound, if not more so. To give *something* back to an endeavor
which not only benefits industry, academia or some woman in Missouri, but
also helps to promote world-wide unity as does any effort which unites us
in a common goal.

After reading this list for so long, my typical reaction to whatever I read
being, "Uh...whut?" since a lot of it still goes over my head, I was
beginning to wonder how I might be able to participate, to help promote the
purpose of the WAI and help myself in the process. I've begun, and deleted,
a few dozen emails to various individuals making contributions, thinking it
might be easier (read: less damaging to my fragile ego if I don't get the
response I want) or more appropriate (read: I don't get a nasty email from
the moderator of this list telling me to go away) if I wrote to some of you
separately. While trying to sort out the players, however, I'm still going
blind, so need to take care of some of this as quickly as possible and have
decided to cast a wider net.

<takes deep breath> So here's the deal. <and oh, if you knew...but maybe
you do...how difficult it is to do this!>

Some of you have assistive/adaptive technology you need evaluated by
disabled people so you may receive their feedback. I am a disabled person
who needs adaptive doohickies (<--warning: technical jargon in use; do not
attempt this at home) that I might continue availing myself of the one
thing which, at this point in my life, seems to be the only constant I
have. As I have read some of you saying how helpful you would find it to
receive feedback from people who will most directly benefit from these
technologies, I have mustered the courage to lock my pride in a closet long
enough for me to send this email and volunteer MUCH briefer and hopefully
more concise reports on my usage experience in exchange for supplying me
with your evaluation product.

I am not an opportunist, nor am I seeking sympathy. I am just trying to
continue doing what I do and want to feel I have made some contribution
that others might do the same.

Sound like a deal? Sounds reasonable, but, hey, this isn't the place to
bring up this kind of stuff? I'm sure you'll let me know. In any event, I
welcome your replies and thank you for your time. You may not hear from me
again on this list <cheers break out among the readers>, but I'll be
closely following the discussions, confident it will eventually sink in. 

Re Dolloff
Received on Wednesday, 4 March 1998 10:53:50 UTC

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