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[Fwd: File: "JH-SPCH TXT"]

From: William Loughborough <love26@gorge.net>
Date: Wed, 25 Mar 1998 15:35:06 -0800
Message-ID: <351994AA.41219F3D@gorge.net>
To: "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
The usual context of the word "initiative" is typified by the phrase
"take the initiative" meaning to lead the way and I feel that we must be
more assertive in our efforts if we are to be taken seriously by both
our clients, which I take to be people who are currently "enjoying" less
than ideal access to the World Wide Web, and our audience which is those
connected either through personal authorship of or the provision of
tools for the purpose of placing content on the Web.

The attached speech was given by Judy Heumann at the Microsoft campus in
connection with the "Accessibility Summit" sponsored by MS recently. 
The tone of it is what I have been trying to urge on our output: not
exactly a threat but a firm resolve to change how these things are done.
The famous "bottom line" invoked to excuse non-compliance with clear
regulations requiring accessible software must be shown to include the
certainty that people who deliberately avoid providing accessibility
will one day be sitting in the same chairs that the "leaders" of the
tobacco industry used when facing a congressional committee.

The various WAI working groups should always be operating from strength
that is not *just* morally and ethically sound, but also advising
vendors, many of whom are members of the Consortium, that the actions we
are recommending are actually requirements and what we are "negotiating"
is the "how" not the "if" of accessible software for accessing the Web.

At WWW6 I asked Chuck if the disability manager had to approve of
software before it was released he said that that not only was not
happening but likely would not.  This is changing at MicroSoft and will
be a prevalent procedure.

Therefore we must concentrate on: what comprises accessibility; how to
provide it; how to tell if it has been provided.  We are better off not
to enter into any discussion of why to provide it in any sense other
than what Ms. Heumann brings out in the attachment.  Her tone is not
that of a beggar seeking a handout but of a representative of an entire
nation explaining in remarkable detail, right down to keystrokes, what's
been wrong and suggestions on how to fix it.  I don't believe we should
show any less initiative than she does.

attached mail follows:

Date: Sun, 1 Mar 1998 21:04:45 -0500
From: damon-dna@EMAIL.MSN.COM>

Hello All---Debbie Nicholas here.

This is rather long, but worth the read. Judy Heurmann is an awesome
advocate who is considerably disabled physically, yet obviously a brilliant
and motivating speaker.

At the Microsoft accessibility summit last week, a keynote speech
was given by Judy Heumann, Assistant Secretary for Special
Education and Rehabilitative Services at the U.S. Department of
Education.  Although not a transcript of the delivered speech,
here is a copy of her prepared remarks.

THURSDAY, February 19, 1998

Thank you and good afternoon.  It is wonderful to be here in the
other Washington, a beautiful state, for this exciting
conference.  When an organization of the size and influence of
Microsoft holds an all-day meeting on accessibility, I know we're
on the right track.

I want to express my appreciation for all of you attending
"Accessibility Day," and I want to convey special thanks to Jim
Allchin's Personal
and Business Systems Group, and to Gregg Lowney and the
Accessibility and Disabilities Group for hosting this meeting.
Thank you also too Gary Moulton, for all of your hard work in
putting this conference together.

So, who is this group called the disabled, and why are we here

Let me begin by telling you a little about who I am, and through
that I hope you get a better understanding of why the issue of
accessible technology is so important to disabled individuals
like me.

I am the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education
and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), a principal program office
in the U.S. Department of Education.  OSERS administers the
statutes that provide special education and vocational
rehabilitation services to disabled children, youth, and adults,
and it conducts research in disability-related topic areas
needing further study.  You just heard from Dr. Gregg
Vanderheiden, who heads up one of our research centers, and he
has worked very closely with Microsoft to develop the
accessibility features that you provided for Windows 3.1 and that
are now built into the Windows 95 Control Panel.

There are some 49 million of us out there with disabilities, and
I believe part of my job is to promote our rights.  Whether
people are blind or deaf or physically disabled, I want to be
able to assure them that as technology advances and as our
society becomes more technology-dependent, they will not be left
behind.  Let me tell you, I am not a doomsayer by nature, but if
we don't build accessibility in up front, we will lose
flexibility down the road.  If we don't consider the needs of all
Americans, we will harm many Americans.  I want all of you to
understand that we must design our products of tomorrow by
considering the users of today, and some of those users are
disabled, including me.  More will be developing disabilities as
they age, including most of you if you live long enough.  So this
is not just about legalities -- it's about thinking smart for the

You know, there is an image, a stereotype, if you will, of who we
the disabled are -- people who need to be taken care of,
dependent poor souls -- and where we belong -- in institutions,
at home with the blinds drawn.  Well, I'm here to tell you in my
experience and the experience of the Disability Rights Movement,
disabled people want to be a part of it all.  We are joiners.  We
are active, productive citizens -- when given the chance.  We
want to be as self-sufficient as possible and own our own homes,
send our children to college, worship, vote and work.  That means
that we don't want to be left out when you're designing software
or hardware, or testing products, or doing marketing surveys.
What you do here is as important to us as it is to any other
customer you have.

And I can assure you, that not only do the President, Vice
President and the rest of the U.S. government care about
accessible technology, but there are laws which have had very
bipartisan support to assure technology is accessible in any
equipment purchased by the government or by businesses
contracting with it.

Over the last 100 years, we have experienced the rise of the
Disability Rights Movement, and with it the creation of federal
legislation protecting the civil rights of disabled Americans.

                    # # #

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states that it is
illegal for any federal agency or grantee, such as a public
university, or any other institution or activity that receives
federal funding to discriminate against anyone "solely by reason
of . . . disability." Thus, these agencies and grantees who use
technology such as  Microsoft's, must make sure  that this
technology is accessible so that employees with  disabilities are
not denied opportunities based on their  disabilities.

As the disability community grew and coalesced, it demanded equal
access to employment, housing, public buildings, transportation
and telecommunications -- the right to participate fully in
American society. This groundswell then birthed the Americans
With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.

The ADA provides that no  qualified individual with a disability
shall, by reason of such  disability, be excluded from
participation in or be denied the  benefits of the services,
programs, or activities of a public  entity or be discriminated
against by it.

Any of these  entities who purchased inaccessible software and
other  technology could be in violation of Section 504 and/or the
ADA  if inaccessible technology prohibits their disabled
employees or customers from participating in that entity's

All this came to pass because disabled people needed to be
empowered, needed to get actively involved in the world around
them, taking their cues from other groups also fighting for
equality of opportunity.

And so, when several leading organizations representing the
interests of people who are blind wrote in the fall of '97 to
your chairman, Bill Gates, they echoed what all people with
disabilities want, and that's simply what other customers already
have:  full access to all software features of Microsoft

The fact that you are here today to listen and learn about how
this wish by the disabled community has been often advanced and
sometimes impeded by your company, encourages me about the future
of accessibility at Microsoft.

As Gregg so poignantly illustrated in his presentation, it is
likely that as we age, at some point in our lives, many of you
who are not disabled will become so through accidents, strokes,
disease and other trauma, and those of us who already have a
disability will acquire new ones.  Disability, then, is part of
the human condition.  And we must plan the future with it in
mind, because the future we make for each other is the future we
ultimately make for ourselves as well.

At this point, I would like to introduce all of you to Joe Tozzi,
the Director of the Department of Education's Assistive
Technology Team, and Terri Youngblood, the Department's full-time
assistive technology consultant.  They came out here with me as
evidence of the fact that accessibility is not a province of my
office alone, but represents a full commitment by the entire
Department.  Joe heads up a full-time Assistive Technology Team
whose job it is to ensure that any software in use within the
Department is useable by its customers and employees with

I want to be very clear about this -- we are beginning to enforce
Federal laws which mandate accessibility, and are requiring that
all of our grantees purchase technology that is accessible to

Also, in order to ensure that the Department is meeting its
accessibility obligations under Section 504 on all fronts, we
have hired a Section 504 Coordinator to oversee the Department's
compliance with the broad requirements of this statute.  I am
pleased to introduce to you Jennifer Mechem, who also flew out
with us to lend her support and share her experiences with you.
I understand that Jenni will be participating in the meetings to
be held tomorrow between the advocacy groups and the product
development teams.

In addition, the Department has issued very specific
accessibility requirements for any software developed under
contract for the Department.  These requirements will ensure that
any software developed for us will be accessible to our disabled
employees and customers.

I am pleased to say that other Federal and state agencies are
looking closely at these guidelines, and that recent
Congressional activity suggests that new legislation will
establish more stringent functional requirements for Section 508
of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  For those of you unfamiliar
with this statute, Section 508 mandates that Federal agencies
purchase information technology that is accessible to and useable
by its disabled employees.

Certain State entities also must comply with Section 508, and I
know that those entities that work with disabled individuals are
taking a very hard look at their Section 508 compliance and
software purchasing at the State-level.

The point is, the importance of accessibility to technology will
only grow over time both from a legal perspective and a moral
one.  More and more decisions on what to buy will be based on
asking, "Is it accessible?"

In fact, last March a number of us met with staff from the Lotus
Development Corporation and informed them that we would
absolutely not use the Lotus Notes Client for Department-wide
collaboration until the company makes it accessible.  And of
course, that same high standard will be applied to Microsoft
products as well, some of which, such as Outlook 97 and MS
Access, also have serious accessibility problems.

As you can see, this collective movement toward requiring a high
level of accessibility throughout the Department is fast becoming
a reality for all of us, but is not limited to the Department's
internal operations.

In October of last year, Secretary of Education Richard Riley
signed a ground-breaking "Dear Colleague" letter, which, along
with a technical assistance package on access to technology, was
sent to every single school district throughout the country.  The
Secretary has made it quite clear to school systems their
responsibility under several Federal statutes to provide
technology-access.  This material stresses the necessity of
considering access issues as an early and integral part of
technology procurement.

Insisting upon accessible technology in schools is not only a
great idea -- it's a legal requirement under the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

This discussion makes me think about Stephen Hawking, one of the
most brilliant scientists, and one of the most severely disabled
individuals of our time.

As you may know, Stephen Hawking has Amyotrophic Lateral
Sclerosis, a condition which has left him pretty much unable to
speak or move without assistance.  Through the efforts of a team
of designers at Intel's mobile products group, he has constant
access to the Internet, a voice synthesizer and infrared remote
control of doors, lights and his personal entertainment center.

Well, Stephen Hawking became disabled later in life, and I have
to wonder, if he was in our school system today with his level of
disability, would he receive the technology he needed to allow
the potential of his genius to shine forth as it does today?  I
have to wonder if Microsoft and other companies who supply
educational software and hardware to local school systems would
have the right tools on hand to help him overcome his functional
limitations and become one of the greatest scientists of this

                              # # #

Stephen Hawking is of course a dramatic example of the increasing
correlation between the ability to use a computer and the ability
to learn and work.

Those who have access to computers will have a much greater
chance of working and supporting themselves and their families as
contributing taxpayers; those who don't will simply be left
behind, a prospect unacceptable to the disability movement.

Almost 70 percent of working-age adults with disabilities are
still unemployed or under-employed.  The reasons for this are
many and involve a myriad of complex issues surrounding the
physical, social, and attitudinal barriers that still exist in
our society.  But one thing is clear -- given the right tools,
disabled individuals can learn and work in equal measure
alongside their non-disabled peers, fully contributing to all
aspects of societal life.  With each passing day, computers and
related equipment continue to increase in importance as the
"right tool" in moving toward a society that counts more and more
upon its technological skills for its functioning.

In trying to grasp just how critical access to technology is for
disabled people at home, in school, and in the workplace, we like
to say that for people without disabilities,
technology makes things convenient, whereas for people with
disabilities, it makes things possible.  That brings with it an
enormous responsibility because the reverse is also true.
Inaccessible technology can make things absolutely impossible for
disabled people, a prospect we must surely avoid.

                              # # #

As Chairman Gates mentioned earlier, there are major issues
facing the disability community that involve Microsoft policy,
software design, and the importance of creating an accessible
environment so that no one is left out as we move into the next

For individuals with significant hearing impairments, access to
major software functionality is, at least for the present,
generally not a problem, since interactions between computers and
users mostly happen at the visual level.  However, deaf
individuals have always had a problem when sound-only error
messages are utilized by software, or audio material is presented
on the Web or in multi-media applications.  As this reliance upon
audio and multi-media information increases over time, this could
present problems for individuals who are deaf.

Recent developments within your organization are very encouraging
in this area, especially the development of the Synchronized
Accessible Media Interchange (SAMI), which will enable anyone who
creates multimedia software titles and Web pages to provide
closed-captioning for users who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
Using the synchronization features found in Dynamic HTML, SAMI
provides a simple and extremely effective way of captioning or
audio-describing web pages and other materials without disturbing
the integrity of the initial files.  As I understand it, SAMI is
slated to be available sometime in the first half of 1998, and if
any of you haven't seen it, I am sure it's on exhibit at this
conference, and well worth checking out.

For individuals with mobility impairments, alternative input
devices, oversized track balls, and software features such as
sticky keys, bounce keys, and other enhancements built into
Windows 95 allow much more flexibility in performing input and
manipulation tasks than they would otherwise have had.  We are
concerned, however, about the potential inaccessibility of future
systems which could rely upon more complex interaction, e.g.,
gesticular input, small response times, or responses involving
movements with very small error-tolerances.

Computer-users with low vision need to be able to specify highly
contrasting colors and very large fonts in order to read the
screen.  The font manipulation and screen magnification software
solutions that are now available and under development should,
though a long way from perfect, help to ameliorate this problem.

Probably the area that has generated the most controversy in
recent months involves the consistent accessibility of software
applications to individuals who are totally blind, thus making
this issue one of the most urgent we face, at least for the

This means that every person who designs products and writes code
needs to understand just how blind people interact with this
marvel we call the computer.  For example, how many of you fully
grasp that the mouse is simply not a tool that a totally blind
person will ever want to use?  It is useless for someone who
can't see what it is pointing to on the screen.

The keyboard is thus the most comfortable and productive way
known today for someone who is blind to input or manipulate data,
making it critical for all of the controls within an application
to be accessible through the keyboard, and for those controls to
be displayed in a manner that is easily detected by the screen
reading system.

On the positive side, Microsoft, in May of last year, released
the Active Accessibility software development kit to assist in
remedying the problem of software access by the blind.  As some
of you know, Active Accessibility is an application programming
interface that allows a software application (be it a word
processor or browser) to describe its contents including all
screen objects and controls to other applications, such as screen
readers which read the screen out loud using artificial speech,
or braille displays, which represent it in a tactile format.

Active Accessibility is much more accurate than the
standard-method screen readers used before this kit was
developed, and the disability community saw the Active
Accessibility kit as a real advance toward independence and full
accessibility to software applications.  Its inclusion in
Internet Explorer three, and to a minimal degree in Office 97
were further indications that we were making some progress.

But unfortunately, when the final version of Internet Explorer
4.0 was released this past  October, the software did not contain
Active Accessibility due to some last-minute decision-making and
juggling of technology that prevented its inclusion.  Well,
needless to say, there were letters, e-mails a plenty, and a
flurry of activity.  The result of all this was that Microsoft
finally released an accessible version of Internet Explorer
(4.01) last month, with Active Accessibility included, though
numerous blind people tell us that version 3.02 is still the
preferred version as 4.01 still has some major accessibility bugs
to be overcome.

The concern still exists then, that if Active Accessibility is
far enough down the feature chain that it can be dropped from a
product like Internet Explorer at the last minute, what are the
implications for any other product slated for release by

Our bottom line is that until accessibility becomes a tier-one
feature for every relevant team here at Microsoft, I share the
belief of many in the disability community that there will always
be cause for concern and job insecurity, especially given market
pressure to constantly issue new and enhanced versions of
software products in the shortest possible timeframe.  Until
accessibility is viewed with the same level of importance as
properly functioning mouse or video drivers, there will always be
that chance that, with shipping dates, feature wars, and other
competitive pressures, disabled people could be left behind by
one simple decision to leave out the coding necessary to make a
product accessible.

I know that your teams place a high priority on features that you
deem as "Show Stoppers."  I am hear today to tell all of you that
inaccessibility is a "People Stopper," and that's something you
mustn't forget.

This is not about finger pointing or who's right or who's wrong.
It's about jobs -- real people getting or losing real jobs.  For
example, because of the work you did in making Internet Explorer
Three accessible, there is an Internet service provider in
California who has actually hired blind people to do tech support
for its customers.  Think about it, these people can't see their
screens, yet they are helping sighted people to learn to use the
Net, and they can do it all because of your efforts.

But the reverse is also true.  There's a blind woman who was a
prominent programmer for a large software company who literally
lost her job because the development tools they began using were

Another visually-impaired man with an MBA is now folding film for
a living because he couldn't compete for a high level customer
service job even though he was eminently qualified.  The software
the company was using to handle customer inquiries, again, was

Another blind database designer lost his job because at least as
of right now, there is not a Windows-base database package
available that is accessible enough to allow for the competitive
employment of blind programmers.

I could go on and on, giving both positive and negative examples
of how software accessibility has affected people with
disabilities.  The bottom line is, there are still way too many
negative stories, and while we can tout the positive ones, we
need more of them.

                              # # #

We want to ensure that compliance with Active Accessibility, the
use of standard classes and controls where possible, and other
accessibility tools, become tier-one features in all text-based
Microsoft products.  We know that Active Accessibility is not
currently supported among all product managers.  This is a real
problem, because until it, or another standard, is consistently
adopted by all development teams, screen-reading companies will
be constantly shooting at a moving target.  If each development
team provides its own accessibility solution, or worse, none at
all, the end user won't stand a chance in counting upon
accessibility in the marketplace.  We must ensure that mainstay
application programs that disabled people really need to use on
the job are fully accessible -- it's as simple as that.

One sure way to help integrate accessibility into the fabric of
Microsoft activity is to include accessibility as a standard part
of usability testing.  It would be extremely useful to build
accessibility into that whole process and repeat it throughout
the design, prototyping, and development stages of a product.

In a related matter, I know that hand-held computers, though not
prevalent right now, will probably be flooding the marketplace in
the next few years.  Therefore, we absolutely must ensure that
research and development into making Windows C-E, the operating
system that drives them, accessible to all disabled people.  It's
not unrealistic to imagine a time in the not-too-distant future
when employability will depend as much upon access to C-E-based
computers running applications as it now depends upon access to
software running on desktop PCs.  Here, too, a corporate-wide
policy of accessibility as a tier-one feature, with top-level
support and allocation of resources, is absolutely critical to
success in this area.

I know that another concern which has been raised in the
disability community is that Microsoft's developer tools do not
at present facilitate the development of third-party applications
that are accessible through inclusion of Active Accessibility,
keyboard equivalents and other accessibility features.  This is
of very great concern since numerous inaccessible applications
are thus being produced unnecessarily by third-party developers.

We recently hired a contractor to develop a database application
for my office, to be used by a discrete group of individuals,
which from time to time will include blind individuals.  The
contractor used MS Access as its database development tool,
insisting that its libraries contained standard Windows classes
and controls, thus enabling it to be used in conjunction with
screen-readers.  We were all pretty surprised to find that this
was not the case.

Our blind users had a number of problems with this application.
For example, after tabbing to a list box of names, they were not
able to use their arrow keys to move among the choices or the
enter key to select them.  In these list boxes, one must click
first with the mouse to activate the selection process, and even
then, the screen-reader could not read the choices, reporting
that a custom class was being used.  So we have to look hard at
this whole issue of development tools.

I know from Mr. Gates' comments that Microsoft plans to continue
to strengthen the accessibility provisions of the Windows logo
program.  How wonderful it would be to make compliance and
support of Active Accessibility and other access features a
requirement for any application seeking authentication as
Windows-compliant.  Just think how far-reaching the effect of
such a requirement would be:  any text-based application,
regardless of its producer, would have to meet accessibility
criteria if it were to use the "Designed for Windows" logo.  I
know that Microsoft is moving in that direction, and I encourage
and applaud you for this effort which will have a profound effect
upon the whole software industry if successfully implemented.

I would also encourage Microsoft to explore some creative
mechanisms that would further assist vendors of adaptive
technology such as screen-reader developers in quickly obtaining
and implementing releases of Microsoft accessibility products.
Finding ways of improving the relationships with assistive
technology vendors would help to address such issues as obtaining
copies of the latest accessibility code and engaging in dialogue
on implementation strategies and design problems.

Lastly, I want to commend Mr. Gates and all of you for your
efforts in ensuring that disabled people have a voice in the
direction that the development of accessibility policy takes.  I
am pleased that Microsoft is setting up a panel of people that
represent all major groups that work with or represent the
disabled end-user, so that all voices are heard in the process,
and key ideas and critical input and best practices are provided
to product-development staff on a consistent basis, especially in
the early stages of conceiving ideas for new products.  This
early involvement could eliminate the need for costly
retrofitting of software for accessibility which can occur when
such considerations are not taken into account up front.

                              # # #

I would like to close by again contemplating the life of Stephen
Hawking.  As Intel vice-president Stephen Nachtsheim points out,

Stephen is probably the most connected man in the world, and the
envy of his colleagues. What he really wants to do is what we all
want, and that is to be connected all the time, with instant
access to people and information. My impression is that he is a
man who does what he wants and tries to be minimally
inconvenienced by his disability, so he uses all the technology
he can to overcome a problem.

So here we have this great man, Stephen Hawking, who has said he
perceives his significant disability as mild, due in no small
part to  some really great technology designed by some even
greater people.

Well, there are a lot of Stephen Hawkings and Judy Heumanns out
there -- some of us are blind, others are deaf, others, like
Stephen, can't manipulate a keyboard or a mouse.  Wouldn't it be
great if each time one of us used a Microsoft product, we could
agree with Stephen Hawking that, because of the given product,
our functional limitation would be reduced to something that is,
as he has said, "an inconvenience but which one can live with and
get around."

What an endorsement of technology by him, and what a challenge
for each of you -- great accessible technology designed by
talented people.

We all await your efforts.  Thank you again for inviting me to
talk with you today.

End of Document
Received on Wednesday, 25 March 1998 18:38:26 UTC

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