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RE: QED & Marshall McLuhan

From: Anne Pemberton <apembert@crosslink.net>
Date: Tue, 08 Jun 1999 08:06:54 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org, Wayne Myers-Education <wayne.myers@bbc.co.uk>
At 07:04 PM 6/7/1999 +0100, Wayne Myers-Education wrote:
>Perhaps a future clarification of the scope and mission of the WAI might
>preempt these problems with which Jonathan so eloquently presents us, by
>making the distinction between access and understanding more clearly.
>Perhaps the content guidelines could do the same. At some time in the future
>it might be appropriate for an additional working group of some sort to look
>at the issue of the non-text web and the extent to which some of the
>text-based web may be filtered so as to be presented without words. However,
>this last will involve co-operation and mutual understanding between the
>parties involved, both of the limitations of the exercise and of the
>limitations of the organisation involved. Recriminations, bad feeling, and
>the reposting of personal correspondence to a mailing list probably do
>little to foster such aims.
>Yours wordily,

There will continue to be "bad feeling" when webmasters are insulted
reguarly for failing to consider the blind when they are building pages for
their audience which may or may not have included the blind at the onset.
Or is it presumed that "gurus with pony tails" are immune to gratuitous

The excuses generally presented are taking similar forms. One person (on
another list) mentioned that accommodating those with cognitive limitations
would constitute a "dumbing down of America". Wayne looked at the extremes,
and decided it wasn't the goal of the Internet to reach EVERYONE after all.
The cognitively impaired, limited readers, and non-readers are here. now.
On the web. Not only are they the folks in Jonathan of others' centers for
adults, but they also include the youthful members of the web-using
population. Children are coming online in record numbers, through their
schools and through home connections. Much of the content of the web is
useful and important to children, but it is difficult to find sites where
the wording is simple enough to carry the meaning to those whose cognition
is still developing. This is so even thought there is significant public
information available on what is in the children's curriculi
(http://www.pen.k12.va.us provides detailed objectives for studies from K
to graduation. Click on Superintendent, and then on SOLs, for Virginia
objectives which are some of the best available - other states also have
their curriculi posted, but there is much commanality in what is learned if
not when.)

If it is important to accommodate the blind on the web, it is equally
important to accommodate other groups of disabled as well, including the
cognitively impaired, or else it isn't accessibility at all, it's merely

It will not require providing computers to the great unwashed "poor" of the
world to provide accessibility to the cognitively impaired who are already
online. It does not require re-writing of highly specific text, but it
could start with re-writing the general text and providing links to
specifics. It could start with simply making navigation of a site possible
to those who don't read or read poorly. This can be done with graphics, or
perhaps inclusion of a clickable sound file that tells, very simply, what
is on the site and how to get to it.  

Incidently, if anyone believes that the cognitively-limited are new to the
Internet, guess again!! As a special ed teacher with some EMR/EMH (mildly
retarded-cognitively limited) and some LD (learning disabled-cognitively
impaired) as well as other disabled kids, I had my students on the Internet
since the late eighties. Yes, it was all text back then, and I had to read
much of the content of e-mail and chat to some of the kids for them to
access it adequately for learning, but these people were there, are here,
and although we've made great strides for SOME in accessibility, these
people with cognitive implications, have been ignored, perhaps because
these people are invisible to "educated folks"??? 

The ADA requires accessibility for ALL with disabilities who seek
information and services from the Internet, and to address only those that
can be accommodated easily with what we know, is nether legal nor fair.  IMHO


Anne L. Pemberton
Enabling Support Foundation
Received on Tuesday, 8 June 1999 08:00:38 UTC

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