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reasonable accomodation? (was Re: single browser intranets)

From: Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999 15:43:02 -0400
Message-Id: <4.1.19991026122611.00a1f460@pop3.concentric.net>
Message-Id: <4.1.19991026122611.00a1f460@pop3.concentric.net>
Message-Id: <4.1.19991026122611.00a1f460@pop3.concentric.net>
To: WAI Interest Group Emailing List <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
aloha, y'all!

the real issue behind this extended thread (as i have been reminded by other
posters to this list) is what actually happens in the real world, and i can
assure you that, even when i drew salaries from agencies whose mission it was
to serve the blind, my pay stubs (and pay history, as well as most of the other
employee information distributed by those agencies) were invariably delivered
to me in hard (printed) copy, despite my continued pleas for receipt of
electronic versions, which i could use myself in order to (a) review for
accuracy, and (b) use to set up a (much needed) personal budget...

the most revelatory experience i had setting up one agency for the blind's
intranet was discovering all of the policies that governed employees at that
particular agency -- when i began working there, i was given a hard copy of the
employee handbook, and during my tenure at that agency, i continued to get
printed memos delivered to my desk containing copy that was destined for the
intranet, which i then either needed to re-request in electronic format, or
scan using OCR software in order to get the information up in a timely
manner...  and, just to complicate the matter further, the limited amount of
information which was available in an electronic format on the agency's LAN
(and which was used to generate braille copy) was hopelessly outdated

prior to my experience working at agencies for the blind, i worked as webmaster
for a college --  designing, implementing, and maintaining its web site slash
campus information system...  despite my pleas, i never received any of the
copy that formed the basis of the web site (such as the college's catalog,
course listings, new releases, updates from the athletic department, etc.) in
an electronic format, although much of what i did receive was printed out on a
desktop printer from (surprise! surprise!) an electronic version of the
document or documents in question...  so, again, i was forced to perform
massive amounts of OCR in order to return the copy that i had received in print
back into an electronic form that i could then use (along with the structural
information that i could then glean from the layout of the converted material)
in order to design and then encode that information as a web page or
sub-section of the site....

why didn't i slap (or threaten to slap) an ADA complaint on any of the entities
obliquely cited above, despite the fact that they consistently failed to make
quote reasonable accommodations unquote?  because, after a protracted period of
unemployment slash unemployability, i was far too busy (a) trying to earn a
living, (b) trying to earn enough to pay for the adaptive equipment i needed to
purchase out-of-pocket in order to become employable, and (c) too busy making
my own unreasonable accommodations in order to fulfill the terms of my
contracts, to have time for investigating the feasibility of an ADA complain,
much less following through with one...

that's the real world -- people working under pressure, forced to make do with
imperfect accessibility solutions, and forced to make their own

no, there isn't a panacea, but there are definitely accessibility issues that
involve intranets and which should be considered by intranet implementors --
just because the information contained in an intranet lies behind a firewall,
doesn't mean that it isn't fair fodder for discussion on this list -- in fact,
the fact that it does lie behind a firewall makes discussion of corporate and
governmental intranets a pressing issue for us to address...  why?  well, i'm
hard pressed to express the attitude of most employers better than by
paraphrasing the quote human resources person unquote at the last agency for
the blind that i worked at...   when i asked where the electronic equivalents
of a lot of the material i was attempting to add to the intranet could be
located, i was informed that everyone will have access to an accessible and
updated electronic copy of the handbook and all of the other paper-based forms
and policies we use once you get them up on the intranet...


If there is one evil in the world today for which there is no 
excuse, it is the evil of stupidity.    -- Thomas Alva Edison
Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
Camera Obscura: http://www.hicom.net/~oedipus/
VICUG NYC: http://www.hicom.net/~oedipus/vicug/
Read 'Em & Speak: http://www.hicom.net/~oedipus/books/
Received on Tuesday, 26 October 1999 15:36:54 UTC

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