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Re: single browser intranets

From: Claude Sweet <sweetent@home.com>
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999 12:22:20 -0700
Message-ID: <3815FF6C.29A00D7A@home.com>
To: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
CC: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>, W3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Charles McCathieNevile wrote:
> 
> (This seems way off topic, but anyway)
> 
> If you look at fortune 500 companies, most of them are companies that decided
> that being in business in 5 years time was more important than short term
> gain. And if you look at companies that stay in the Fortune 500 for ten years
> it is even clearer - the picture is not distorted by the flash-in-the-pan
> comapnies that are doing well at a given time.

Companies survive because they produce a product or perform a service
that they
can successfully promote to consumers and achieve a profit that
encourages
their stock to increase in value. The value of capital assets and return
to 
investment drives most, if not all, business decisions. Down sizing or
retiring/firing
older, higher paid employees is a favorite method of accomplishing
increased
profits.

Lofty 5 and 10 plans are only successful if enough reserve funds can be
diverted
without effecting profits. This means IRS rules and regulations as to
how items are
expensed can affect business, both short and long range, planning
decisions.

> Do I expect all comanies to consider good structure as important? No. But I
> expect that most of those that will make it do. (Some people will have dumb
> luck. That's what it is for).

Does "good structure" refer to the right of a business to determine job 
descriptions and duties as a requirement for employment? In civil
service and 
educational institutions, the employee is protected by a very specific
job 
description and employment contract. Negotiation of qualification and
work
related benefits are also spelled out in employment contracts.

Management may amend employment contracts by adding new descriptions to
new hires 
and voluntary participation by existing employees via stipends or bonus
payments.
 
> It seems to me that restricting the range of possible employees is a mistake
> for most companies. In IT it is even more so, given the shortage of qualified
> candidates and the high prpoprtion of people with disabilities who are
> sufficiently qualified, skilled and experienced to do the work, and are being
> forced into unemployment by short-sighted and narrow-minded business
> practices. Most companies plan to growth, but successful ones also plan for
> growth.

I agree, that hiring the best quality person for any job should be the
standard
applied. No bonus points should be added to any score of a prospective
job applicant -
this includes credit for being in the armed forces, a civil service
employee, 
a women, ethnic minority, or being physically disabled. "Quotas" should
never be 
a factor in being selected for any job. However, discrimination and
reverse 
discrimination are a reality. Threats of litigation without a real basis
in fact 
and law is illegal, unlawful, and a criminal violation - blackmail.

> Actually, this topic began somewhere else entirely-  with the question of
> whether it wzas apppropriate for an educational provider to rquire the use of
> a paticular software combination. Which I think is a signifacantly different
> question.
> 
> Charles McCN

Lets return to the question "What is the role of the teacher in K-12 and
higher
education? Are they hired to convey information of a specific nature
outlined in
course or class descriptions? Are students required to meet specific
requirements
to enroll in a class - have passed a prior course(s) at a specific
grade?

I believe most educators believe that students need to acquire a minimum
level of
word processing skills as part of their language arts/writing
communication requirements.
Part of this basic education is being expanded to include using the
Internet as a
part of performing research for class assignments.

An increasing number of K-8 students have access to computers at home.
The percentage
of students increases in 9-12 and junior college. A student in a 4 year
higher educational 
institution is at a disadvantage if they don't own a personal computer.

Departments and schools generally establish a defacto operating system
and specify software
students are required to use while enrolled for credit or auditing a
class. Individuals 
who are not enrolled in a class have not right to physically attend a
class or participate
in any discussions.

An instructor may extend class/course information as a requirement of
participation and
base the students grade on their participation. Course outlines will
discuss the instructors
expectations of the students. Students who find the expectations are
unsuitable are allowed 
to drop the class.

With the exception of specific courses, most instructors are only
required to be experts in 
their subject areas. They are not paid to be html experts or experts in
accessibility issues.

A student who is admitted to a school and eventually enrolled in
individual classes/courses 
should expect assistance from a department in the school that has the
specialized skills to
assist the student. This means that the instructor provides a copy of
course material given
to each regular student. The mediation efforts must be provided by the
school. For example,
written materials can be converted into Braille, if enough lead time is
allowed. Some schools
pay someone to take lecture notes or provide a tape recorder for the
student.

Most larger higher educational institutions have a professional staff to
assist instructors in
developing instructional materials - powerpoint slides, Computer
Assisted Instruction self
paced tutorials, and intranet sites for individual courses. Smaller
institutions have limited 
budgets to assist instructors in developing course materials. Assistance
to disabled students
is usually under funded too.

The assumption that teachers should be held accountable for intranet
access issues is not realistic.
The claim that one type of solution will provide the needed assistance
to ALL types of disabilities
is off the mark. The same is true that ALL disabled students must have
equal access to ALL
courses and activities. For example, is it reasonable to have a blind
student enrolled in a surgery 
class? A student in a wheelchair could easily be accommodated in an
orchestra, but their participation 
in a marching band would pose serious obstacles.

Does the band director/instructor have to right to not allow a flute
player with poor musical skills 
to enroll in the school marching band? In the case of a student that
can't march and play their instrument
at the same time - can the director decline the student as a member of
the marching band?

Should a disabled student be provided privileges not afforded to other
students?
Disabled parking spots and permits are positive examples of access for a
physically challenged student,
but would the same solution be appropriate for a deaf student? I think
the answer is obvious.

Using a common sense approach to "access" issues needs to be the focus
of this discussion.

Claude Sweet
Educational Technologist
Received on Tuesday, 26 October 1999 15:25:06 GMT

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