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Re: A few thoughts on using dynamic web pages to improve

From: Leonard R. Kasday <kasday@acm.org>
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 10:43:13 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: Scott Luebking <phoenixl@netcom.com>, phoenixl@netcom.com, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
>I'm not clear that it is very useful to push for the same presentation for
>sighted and blind users.  The issue is whether efficiency is more
important or

Well like I say I'm pushing for both so user has choice of the optimally
formatted page like the ones your talking about, or the default page with
access features, so that people with disabilities are seeing the same page.

I believe that your point is: given finite resources by page authors do we
want to ask them to put in the effort to make the default page accessible
or focus their attention on the dynamically generated page.

I've tried to echo what I've heard, albeit in a slightly different context,
from users who are blind.  At this point I'm going to defer to opinions
from those users whom I'm sure we'll be hearing from directly.

You also asked me to clarify the following:

>    "3. Even if dynamically generated pages are really equivalent, they can
>    "send the message" that so called "text-only" pages are needed... and
>    promote their use where they are hand written and subject to error."

I'm sorry I wasn't clear.  Here's what I was trying to say.  Lets suppose
we have a site in which there are alternative optimally formatted pages.
The user would opt into those pages in some way.  Now suppose an average
sighted user looks at them.  The user will see what looks like what we call
"text-only" pages.  That could give the impression that accessibility is
synonymous with such text-only pages.  Now, we all know the problems of
such pages when created by hand... they get out of date, may not be
complete, link to inaccessible pages, etc.  You are avoiding these problems
by automatic generation.  But that's a more subtle point.  I'm concerned
that the existance of such pages would lead the average web author to just
go off and create the old fashioned text-only pages with all their
attendant problems.

If on the other hand, the default page is accessible, then you can easily
avoid that problem, because the page on which the person selects the
alternatate format could clearly say something like:

Note: All default pages are accessible to people with disabilities per the
w3c guildelines.  However, the following options are available to make
their use more efficient to people with disabilities.  People without
disabilities may also find some of these options attractive, especially if
they are using older browsers or slow internet connections. 

You can't say that if the default pages aren't accessible.

I want to repeat that I think what you're doing to go beyond basic
accessibility and maximize efficiency is extremely valuable and important.
It could make the difference between a person being able to compete or not
compete on equal terms with non-disabled colleagues.   I just don't want to
give up the option of conventional accessible pages in the process.


Leonard R. Kasday, Ph.D.
Institute on Disabilities/UAP, and
Department of Electrical Engineering

Temple University
423 Ritter Annex, Philadelphia, PA 19122
(215) 204-2247 (voice)
(800) 750-7428 (TTY)
Received on Tuesday, 16 November 1999 10:41:52 UTC

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