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Re: Debunking the need for "text-only" parallel sites

From: Nick Traenkner <nick@kentinfoworks.com>
Date: Fri, 21 May 1999 16:48:21 -0400
Message-ID: <3745C694.F65F9375@kentinfoworks.com>
To: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>
CC: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Kynn Bartlett wrote:

> there are more browsers than just [Netscape and MSIE] out there.  If
> you consider the special needs of many users with disabilities,
> you'll find that they might very well not be using Netscape or
> MSIE.  The web is meant to work with whatever client the user finds
> best suits his or her needs, right?

Hmm, I'll have to be more careful answering this than the last question in this
message, but the issue is well understood by all here, and is unfortunate (Bruce
Bailey's followup which just appeard as I'm writing this eloquently addresses the
issue in terms of segregation). It might work well to address this in terms of
minorities- perhaps a poor word choice, but effective for this illustration. Those
other browsers are the "minority" and they are so often cast aside as
"inconsequential", though I keep stressing that customers would be surprised if
they knew how many people browse their sites with Lynx. (not to mention so many of
the 1000 or so others out there)

> If they're concerned about "ugly", introduce them to a screenreader
> and their eyes (or ears) will be opened.  Load a demo version of
> pwWebSpeak, show them that they _cannot_ guarantee presentation of
> their pages EVER, and then let them hear how bad their site sounds
> in pwWS.

YES! And this is what I have been realizing. I was once an HTML hacker myself,
taking considerable pride in being able to get Netscape to do tricks it wasn't
supposed to do- and the ironic thing is that this is, at first, what made people
notice our work. So true with so many other HTML writers- and so unfortunate. Not
until I "understood the WWW", i.e., understood the power of sharing information on
a world-wide level, instead of looking at the WWW as an extension of television-
as a "visual medium" did my HTML hacks disappear overnight.

How do we get everyone to take advantage of the real strengths of the WWW?
(And I'm getting horribly off topic).

> Then the accomodations are being made for the sucky browsers
> (MSIE, Netscape) -- so why are we making it look like there's
> something wrong with disabled folks?

Something wrong, or something different? Different kind of person, different kind
of site. I'm not saying that this is correct- but it seems the root of the
text-only idea. When we discuss accessibility with a client, text-only versions
are mentioned not only for use by the blind but also for slow connections,
telephone/pda browsing etc... Besides, just becasue it is text doesn't mean its
accessible to the blind anyway- consider (as I'm sure has been many times on this
list) ALT attributes which refer to color. In reviewing the WAI guidelines, I
noticed that 9 out of 10 items had little to do with HTML- most having to do with
contextual issues- *writing* issues.

> If I were blind, I would say, "The disability isn't that _I_
> can't see the web -- the disability we're dealing with here is
> _your_ inability to create a good page.  My disability doesn't
> prevent me from getting information -- yours does."  I think
> the same thing applies here -- why not have two views of the
> site, one that reads "for REAL web browsers that can handle
> HTML correctly and accessibly" and the other labeled "for
> MSIE, Netscape, and other crappy browsers"?
> (Be careful with your answer, you may inadvertently state that
> it's better to alienate standards-compliant browser users
> and/or alienate disabled users!)

This is a wonderful example of the "state of the art". Though very much out of
context, I always want to parallelize the "Transistional" flavor of HTML with
puberty. The issue is not simply accessiblity, but equal accessiblity. The answer
to the above question is well-known and answering it the way it would be answered
in most business cases threatens to incriminate me- MSIE/NN and all the other
crappy browsers would win. My question would be

"Do the crappy browser makers realize the urgency of getting the
standards-compliant browsers out there?"

Received on Friday, 21 May 1999 16:48:23 UTC

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