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RE: please help correct a problem?

From: Scott Luebking <phoenixl@netcom.com>
Date: Fri, 8 Oct 1999 18:21:11 -0700 (PDT)
Message-Id: <199910090121.SAA06037@netcom15.netcom.com>
To: asgilman@iamdigex.net, cynthia.waddell@ci.sj.ca.us, phoenixl@netcom.com, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Ms. Waddell,

Thanks for the information, but I might not have been very clear on what
I was saying.  For example, a blind person chooses not to use the
Explorer because the individual prefers to use lynx via shell.  However,
other blind people can use the Explorer with JAWS.  The issue then
becomes whether the preference of the blind student or the preference of
the professor prevails.  One interesting implication of this might be
that JAWS could be raising the accessibility bar.

This might be similar to the wheelchair access that you mention.  Some
people use their wheelchairs in almost a gurney mode which often
conflicts with the ADAG standards for wheelchairs.  If someone says they
meet ADAG standards, what happens to access for gurney-style
wheelchairs?

I wasn't thinking about the right to access changing by audience as much
as the definition of accessibility changing some how within the context
of an audience or environment.  For example, OCR's requiring that
universities follow that WAI guidelines might be actually limiting the
range of accessibility that could be achieved by adding some Javascript
to pages which might make it easier for blind people to use the web
pages.  I'm just kind of exploring these concepts as part of a project
I've been involved at the university.

The issue of reasonable accomodation is also interesting.  A number of
blind people have been losing their jobs as companies move to newer
technology in conducting their business.  Are professors prohibited from
using newer technology as they conduct their classes?  For example, in
the sciences students are expected to use the new technology as part of
their training for future professional work.  Use of the web technology
is rapidly becoming standard in many fields.  There are certain aspects
of the WAI guidelines which will be at odds to using the web in a number
of these fields.

Scott

PS  Kind of off the wall question, but I was wondering what happens
when a university offers a course in mountain climbing and a quadriplegic
signs up for it?



> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Scott Luebking [mailto:phoenixl@netcom.com]
> Sent: Friday, October 08, 1999 3:24 PM
> To: asgilman@iamdigex.net; w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
> Subject: RE: please help correct a problem?
> 
> 
> Hi, Al
> 
> I agree with you, but then the question becomes a little more
> interesting.  Does the definition of accessibility change depending on
> the nature of the audience?  The argument that came up was that the WAI
> guidelines are for the general population like in a library.  Should
> there be a different set of guidelines for a more contained environment
> like a class?  (For example, if a company has chosen one browser to be
> the corporate browser and programs to that browser, can a blind person
> who prefers to use lynx argue that he/she should be allowed to use lynx
> as an accomodation?)  Suppose that students used a windows application
> which was not required to be accessible.  The developers then move the
> application to a web environment using Javascript.  What happens in this
> situation?  Most mass spectrometers are inaccessible to blind students.
> Can professors be required not to use mass spectrometers?  If the
> accomodation for mass spectrometers is having a reader, why cannot the
> same accomodation be made to students using highly visual/interactive
> web pages?
> 
> Some people here at Berkeley are wondering if OCR is making a mistake by
> specifying those guidelines.  Could a university argue that OCR is
> limited in its technical background to make such decisions if the
> definition of accessibility is dependent on the environment?  (At least
> a couple of professors here on campus are not very pleased by the web
> access issues.  Not a fun meeting.)
> 
> Perhaps another variation is when will it be reasonable for a university
> to assume that each student must be proficient in using Windows?
> 
> Scott
> Mr. Luebking-
> The statutes, regulations, OCR letters of resolution and case law stemming
> from Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the IDEA and the ADA all impact
> education.  Any professor in California who requires a student with a
> disability to use a technology that is not compatible with assistive
> technology for access to web pages is in violation of a number of civil
> rights laws.  The issue is not student preference vs. professor preference.
> The issue is equivalent access to the learning environment.  
> 
> The civil rights laws require that the professor provide an "academic
> adjustment" for access to the learning environment.  This accommodation can
> include the professor changing his preference to allow for the use of lynx
> and/or the redesign of the webpages to allow lynx to reach the content.
> 
> On the other hand, if there is a screenreader that will reach the content of
> Javascript, then the school can provide that accommodation as well.  Will
> PwWebspeak reach Javascript?  If so, then the school must provide this
> screenreader.
> 
> The first ADA complaint against a university for internet access was because
> the university provided a sighted person to read the web page out loud to a
> blind individual.  OCR has made it very clear that this is not an
> appropriate accommodation under disability civil rights law.  Please see my
> legal update "The Growing Digital Divide in Access for People with
> Disabilities:  Overcoming Barriers to Participation" found at
> http://www.aasa.dshs.wa.gov/access/waddell.htm.
> 
> The access laws do not change because of the nature of the audience.  This
> can be compared to construction.  A person using a wheelchair must be able
> to pass through an accessible door and travel on an accessible route.
> Access laws do not change because we build different buildings.  Similarly,
> access to the Internet requires a person using a screenreader to access
> accessible web pages and navigate through the Internet.
> 
> In education, "academic adjustments" are available as a protected right to
> students with disabilities.  In employment, "reasonable accommodations" are
> available as a protected right to employees with disabilities.  Moreover,
> the US Department of Justice says that access to the web is also a
> requirement for "effective communication."  The effective communication
> rationale is a high burden equally applicable to both business and
> education.  
> 
> I hope these comments are helpful.  Please understand that they are not to
> be treated as legal advice.  For specific information on how the civil
> rights laws apply to a particular problem at hand, please contact an
> attorney.
> 
> Cynthia D. Waddell
>  
> ---------------------------------------------------
> 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: Scott Luebking [mailto:phoenixl@netcom.com]
> Sent: Friday, October 08, 1999 3:24 PM
> To: asgilman@iamdigex.net; w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
> Subject: RE: please help correct a problem?
> 
> 
> Hi, Al
> 
> I agree with you, but then the question becomes a little more
> interesting.  Does the definition of accessibility change depending on
> the nature of the audience?  The argument that came up was that the WAI
> guidelines are for the general population like in a library.  Should
> there be a different set of guidelines for a more contained environment
> like a class?  (For example, if a company has chosen one browser to be
> the corporate browser and programs to that browser, can a blind person
> who prefers to use lynx argue that he/she should be allowed to use lynx
> as an accomodation?)  Suppose that students used a windows application
> which was not required to be accessible.  The developers then move the
> application to a web environment using Javascript.  What happens in this
> situation?  Most mass spectrometers are inaccessible to blind students.
> Can professors be required not to use mass spectrometers?  If the
> accomodation for mass spectrometers is having a reader, why cannot the
> same accomodation be made to students using highly visual/interactive
> web pages?
> 
> Some people here at Berkeley are wondering if OCR is making a mistake by
> specifying those guidelines.  Could a university argue that OCR is
> limited in its technical background to make such decisions if the
> definition of accessibility is dependent on the environment?  (At least
> a couple of professors here on campus are not very pleased by the web
> access issues.  Not a fun meeting.)
> 
> Perhaps another variation is when will it be reasonable for a university
> to assume that each student must be proficient in using Windows?
> 
> Scott
Received on Friday, 8 October 1999 21:21:30 GMT

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