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Kynn's Definition of Accessibility, and Uncaptioned Webcasts

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Mon, 08 Nov 1999 18:21:38 -0800
Message-Id: <4.2.0.58.19991108180838.01b195d0@mail.idyllmtn.com>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
At about 1 hour 50 minutes into the webcast of the InterLab accessibility
panel, a member of the audience asked an interesting question, "I can
interpret some of what you have said to mean that we should stop this
video transmission right now -- we have no signer, we have no text.
How do you make those judgments?"

It brought up an intriguing quandry -- should we refuse to do something,
if it cannot be done accessibly?  (In this case, there were no funds
available to hire real-time transcription or even after-the-fact
transcriptions.)  Should SLAC have decided not to webcast in that
case?

Some people would argue "if you can't do it accessibly, you shouldn't
do it."

I'm not sure I agree with that.  Mainly because of how I define
accessibility.  The way I see it is that any given web service is
going to have a potential audience of a given size -- and the
percentage of potential users who can use that service will range
from 0% to 100%.  The GOAL of accessible web design is to MAXIMIZE
THE PERCENTAGE OF POTENTIAL AUDIENCE MEMBERS WHO ARE ABLE TO USE
THE SERVICE.  (Caps to make it stand out, not because I'm shouting.)

By that reasoning, ANY CHANGE WHICH INCREASES THE PERCENTAGE IS A
STEP TOWARDS ACCESSIBILITY, and conversely, ANY CHANCE WITH DECREASES
THE PERCENTAGE IS A STEP AWAY.

Applying this to the case in question, let's say that only 50% of
the potential audience could use the Real Video file.  The other
half don't have a compatible viewer, or they can't hear, or they
can't see, or they don't have a computer (cell phone, PDA, etc),
or any other reason.

If we turn off the web cast, the number of people who can access
that service goes from 50% to 0%.  This is not a step towards
accessibility, my friends -- in fact, it's the opposite.  TURNING OFF
THE WEBCAST WOULD DECREASE ACCESSIBILITY.

We need to be careful, when we make mandates about accessibility,
that we are not saying "do it this way OR ELSE" -- because then we
lead to an overall net effect in which accessibility is decreased.
Our goal should always, *always* be to promote changes which
increase accessibility, which means INCREASING the number of potential
audience members who can use a service, and never to DECREASE that
number.

Agree or disagree?


-- 
Kynn Bartlett  <kynn@idyllmtn.com>                   http://www.kynn.com/
Chief Technologist, Idyll Mountain Internet      http://www.idyllmtn.com/
Next Speaking Stop: New Orleans, 9 Dec 99    http://www.builder.com/live/
CC/PP Builds the Future of the Web --> learn more at http://www.ccpp.org/
Received on Monday, 8 November 1999 21:26:38 GMT

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