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CAST's Bobby - Impact on Real People

From: Chuck Hitchcock <chitchcock@cast.org>
Date: Sun, 6 Dec 1998 22:02:02 -0500
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <000801be218d$f65abe40$3cdfe8c7@ChuckNECVersa.cast.org>
Hello,

CAST has been nominated for a Smithsonian Computerworld Award and we would
like to incorporate any comments or stories you might be willing to share
regarding Bobby, our web access validation tool.

The case study approach suggested by the awards application leans more towards
human interest and impact than technical achievement.  We think this is
terrific but our feedback tends to be mostly technical and of the following
types:
1. Bobby has changed the way we develop our Website and has increased our
awareness of universal design. Keep up the good work.
2. If we did what Bobby suggested, our multimedia rich website would fall
behind the competition. How can we be accessible and competitive at the same
time?
3. I would love to implement changes to our website but cannot get the support
I need from our companies management.
4. Our server side image maps are basic to our design and we don't understand
why they should be changed. Can we use the Bobby approved icon anyway?
5. Most of our organization's pages are Bobby approved but we cannot seem to
interest some departments in this issue.  Can we use the Bobby approved icon
on our department homepage even though our whole organization is not
accessible?
6. And so on.......

The emails come from every corner of the globe.  Many from Australia and the
United Kingdom show a level of understanding and effort that we hope to see
replicated in other countries shortly.

We try respond to every email we receive but don't often hear of the most
important outcomes. Those outcomes pertain to the impact on persons with
disabilities who use the Web today and those who will use it in the future.

I should mention that we are careful to credit the important ongoing work of
the Web Access Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Trace,
ATRC at the University of Toronto, WebAble, WGBH and others that make Bobby
possible.  Without credible guidelines and techniques for accessibility, Bobby
would be of limited value to developers.

Our online Bobby which runs on CAST's own server is now testing millions of
pages every month.  We cannot determine whether a significant number of pages
are repaired but the feedback is mostly positive.  In addition to the online
version of Bobby which tests one page at a time, approximately 35 copies of
the application are downloaded from our FTP site each day.

We know that Bobby can only do so much.  It is far from perfect but we are
continuing to improve it.  It is just technology with a good intention.  We
think it helps and would love to have a few thoughts and comments from your
perspective.

Thank you in advance for any comments you might be willing to share,
Chuck

<http://cast.org/bobby/>

**********
Chuck Hitchcock, Director
Universal Design Lab (UDL)and
Product Development,
CAST, Inc.,
39 Cross Street, Peabody, MA 01960
Voice 978 531-8555
TTY 978 531-3110
Fax 978 531-0192
<http://cast.org/>
Received on Sunday, 6 December 1998 22:00:53 GMT

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