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Web Access Issues In Thailand

From: Waddell, Cynthia <cynthia.waddell@ci.sj.ca.us>
Date: Wed, 04 Nov 1998 10:19:12 -0800
To: "'W3C interest group'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-id: <3EC0FC2EAE6AD1118D5100AA00DCD88301E67BB6@SJ_EXCHANGE>
FYI,
Cynthia D. Waddell
ADA Coordinator
City of San Jose, CA


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 4 Nov 1998 21:11:43 +0700
From: Monthian Buntan <mbuntan@rs.mahidol.ac.th>
To: mbuntan@rs.mahidol.ac.th
Subject: 041198_Database01.html


                       Bangkok Post November 4, 1998
                                      
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                         INTERNET / LEGAL AFFAIRS 
                                      
Graphics-heavy Web sites may be subject of lawsuits next year

   'Equal access' to information should include the disabled 
   Sasiwimon Boonruang 
   
   The Internet can bring a better life for the disabled with improved
   work possibilities and an enhanced social life, but the way that some
   web sites use graphics to display the Thai-language can deny these
   benefits to the blind and could be unconstitutional.
   
   Discrimination against handicapped people - as well as many other
   sorts of discrimination - is forbidden under Article 30 of the New
   Constitution, and during an interview with Database, Ratchasuda
   College of Mahidol University Prof. Monthian Buntan said that he was
   planning to sue certain Thai Web sites that are not easily accessed by
   the disabled.
   
   As an example, he cited the Web site of Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai
   &LT;http://www.chuan.org.th&GT;, which relies heavily on graphics and
   thus, is not accessible to people with certain types of disability.
   Disabled persons who rely on computer programs which read text out
   loud, for example, will find their text-to-speech program cannot cope
   with graphics-heavy sites.
   
   Article 30 states that people have equal protection under the law and
   may not be discriminated against because of differences of race, place
   of birth, language, sex, age, physical or health condition, status,
   economic or social status, religious background, education or
   political opinions.
   
   Ratchasuda College of Mahidol University Prof. Monthian Buntan said
   the Internet was a knowledge source for everyone, especially persons
   with disabilities.
   
   Blind in both eyes, Mr Monthian noted the Internet was a crucial
   alternative for him and other disabled people as it allowed greater
   access to information, aside from the limited information available in
   Braille.
   
   "I spend the morning from 4-6 a.m. everyday surfing the Net and read
   mailing lists since there are a great many issues of interest to me
   such as human rights, the environment and so on."
   
   He uses a screen reader and speech synthesizer to be able to "read"
   information displayed and have it broadcast out loud. The speech
   synthesizer can also read key strokes when the user presses the
   keyboard.
   
   As well, there is a Braille translator program that can translate text
   into Braille characters on a special pad which the user can then read.
   
   He said many Internet Web sites render these technologies unusable.
   
   "These can be identified as 'prejudiced' Web sites," Mr Monthian
   pointed out, noting that Web site design should offer alternatives and
   ensure that everyone has access.
   
   As well, under Article 78 of the New Constitution, the government is
   called upon to decentralise power to rural areas and to develop local
   economies and infrastructure and distribute "information
   infrastructure throughout the country equally".
   
   Debate on this article has led to the "Universal Access" issue, which
   has become part of the National Information Infrastructure draft,
   which calls for people to have equal access to information.
   
   Mr Monthian noted that "Universal Access" has, until now, only focused
   on physical aspects, as well as geography and the economy, and has not
   yet addressed equal access for all to information.
   
   When the Governance Court is established next year, he said
   "prejudiced Web sites" would be sued because the disabled were not
   able to access information equally.
   
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   Last Modified: Wed, Nov 4, 1998
 

---------------------------------
Cynthia D. Waddell   Cynthia.Waddell@ci.sj.ca.us
ADA Coordinator       City of San Jose, CA

801 North First Street, Room 460
San Jose, California 95110-1704
(408)277-4034
(408)971-0134 TTY
(408)277-3885 FAX
Received on Wednesday, 4 November 1998 13:22:26 GMT

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