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RE: Web Accessibility Myths and The Kynn Challenge (was:

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Sun, 24 Oct 1999 15:02:51 -0400 (EDT)
To: Scott Luebking <phoenixl@netcom.com>
cc: WAI <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.20.9910241439370.31967-100000@tux.w3.org>
There are many good reasons for designing with interoperability as a goal:

Some software is better than other software, and there are many times when it
is helpful to be able to use the best available for the task. This is true in
general, and in particular of Web browsers. Because the W3C members are
comitted to interoperability of the web, it is possible to design web content
that works on any browser. This also means that when a newer and better
browser is available from anyone it can be deployed immediately, rather than
first having to repair all the legacy content that was designed with
particular proprietary extensions in mind. This is especialy pertinent to
making accommodation for employees with disabilities, where the potential for
substantial productivity gains exists. At the other end, choice of a single
browser can restrict the choice of operating systems, and therefore the
entire software and even hardware used throughout a company.

Supporting only one type of brwser on the intranet can lead a company's
employees, many of whom are not specialists in web technology, to develop
misunderstandings about how the web works, with results including an
unreasonable assumption that everyone "out there" can and should be using
the same browser. (And even to the completely erroneous assumption that there
are only two or three browsers out there.) The reason for using the Web as an
intranet architecture in the first place is for interoperability and the
flexibility of the web. Hence the move of many widely-deployed proprietary
systems to use web architecture.

Finally, allowing people to make choices for themselves is a cornerstone of
some societies, and restricting that choice without good reason is a superb
way to give employees the message that they are valued only as parts of a
machine, rather than as the individuals that many poeple want to be known as.
Within the W3C team of about 50, people use at least 8 different browsers
(and even some of the same browsers in different languages and operating
systems seem completly different). Even for formats still in development
interoperability is key, and different people use different plugin, editing
tools and renderers according to their individual needs.


Charles McCN

On Sat, 23 Oct 1999, Scott Luebking wrote:

  Hi, Mike
  Could you explain why it would be to the benefit of a company
  to support more than one type of browser on its intranet?
  > Just so no one forgets, Graphics are not only important, they are not only
  > required for certain types of pages, but to be accessible to people with
  > certain disabilities graphics provide the means of providing that
  > accessibility.
  > This is NOT a simplistic subject for any of us.  However the use of "cutting
  > edge" technology for its own sake when something else may do better, or
  > requiring one type of browser throws up barriers to all kinds of people, not
  > just hose with disabilities.  I will also add that companies that designate
  > one type of browser are being both lazy and stupid.  I would also point out
  > that the way that most of the companies keep people from suing them under
  > the ADA is to make sure that people with disabilities know that it will a
  > long tough fight. The few that have jobs for the most part want to keep
  > them.  They are afraid, it is plain and simple.  Many advocates for the
  > disabled are harassed and bullied while on the job.
  > Lets make no mistakes here, any culture that would tolerate the inclusion of
  > Dr. Peter Singer in the Faculty of a mainstream university like Princeton
  > has a long way to go when it comes to being  even handed.
  > Of course this is just my opinion, being a person with multiple disabilities
  > I wouldn t know too much about this.
  > Sincerely,
  > Mike Burks

--Charles McCathieNevile            mailto:charles@w3.org
phone: +1 617 258 0992   http://www.w3.org/People/Charles
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative    http://www.w3.org/WAI
MIT/LCS  -  545 Technology sq., Cambridge MA, 02139,  USA
Received on Sunday, 24 October 1999 15:03:57 UTC

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