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RE: lynx-dev User Agent

From: Waddell, Cynthia <cynthia.waddell@ci.sj.ca.us>
Date: Fri, 27 Aug 1999 10:38:20 -0700
Message-ID: <3EC0FC2EAE6AD1118D5100AA00DCD8830345A87E@sj-exchange.ci.sj.ca.us>
To: "'David Woolley'" <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>, lynx-dev@sig.net
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Mr. Woolley:
I noticed in your comments about US law some confusion about requirements
for accessible web design.  Please see my recent legal update "The Growing
Digital Divide in Access for People with Disabilities:  Overcoming Barriers
to Participation."  The paper was commissioned for the first US national
conference on the impact of the digital economy convened by President
Clinton and is found at http://www.aasa.dshs.wa.gov/access/waddell.htm. 

A variety of incentives are in place to encourage accessible web design.
However, the primary vehicle for enforcement is via complaints filed by
people with disabilities and the access laws for electronic and information
technology impact all sectors of our society.  For example, accessible web
design complaints can emerge from various channels- employees with
disabilities where the employer fails to include accessible design in both
the intranet and internet website; members of the public with disabilities
who are trying to access and navigate higher education, commercial or
government websites; students with disabilities trying to access and
navigate university websites; the variables are endless.

The above pointer to my paper may be helpful in explaining current US law on
this evolving topic.  As an employee for local government, I am concerned
with providing community access to government services for everyone and I
view the internet as an excellent leveling field for access.  This is
especially true for those communities who do not have the state of the art
computer equipment, because accessible web design enables the content of the
web to reach them.

Cynthia D. Waddell
Disability Access Coordinator
City of San Jose
---------------------------------------------------
Cynthia D. Waddell   
ADA Coordinator
City Manager Department
City of San Jose, CA USA
801 North First Street, Room 460
San Jose, CA  95110-1704
(408)277-4034
(408)971-0134 TTY
(408)277-3885 FAX
http://www.rit.edu/~easi/webcast/cynthia.htm
http://www.aasa.dshs.wa.gov/access/waddell.htm 



-----Original Message-----
From: David Woolley [mailto:david@djwhome.demon.co.uk]
Sent: Thursday, August 26, 1999 12:45 AM
To: lynx-dev@sig.net
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Subject: Re: lynx-dev User Agent


> mailing list) would be that excluding non-graphical browsers in the
> first place may be a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act,
> since it denies access to blind users using Lynx with a screen reader.

At least in the UK this sort of legislation is either ignored, because
of lack of enforcement (the classic case is Fire Regulations and open
fire doors) or will result in a reluctant token compliance.  For real
success you need to convince people that it is in their commercial
interest to do the job properly.

Actually I'm confused about this Act, because I've also read that the
US government is going to require government contractors to provide
accessible web sites, which tends to imply that there is no legal
requirement on non-government contractors and the government has to
use commercial, not legal, pressures to get compliance.

Note that the SSL issue is a freeware, not a text-only, issue;
some sites might require that some commercial security company approve
the Lynx encryption implementation (NB most serious encryption bugs in
commercial software have not been in the encryption libraries but in
how the host software uses them).  Such approval would cost money and
would only apply to particular source versions and possibly only to
particular binaries.

On the crawling issue, Lynx probably needs to force something into the
User Agent string unconditionally, when crawling to allow sites to
discriminate between Lynx crawling and interactive use.  (Being GPLed,
unfortunately, one can take that something out of the source code.)
Received on Friday, 27 August 1999 13:42:38 UTC

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