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RE: Al Gore Impressed by Assistive Technology

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Fri, 19 Nov 1999 15:52:32 -0800
Message-Id: <4.2.0.58.19991119154509.00c72670@mail.idyllmtn.com>
To: Steve Donie <sdonie@zycor.lgc.com>
Cc: "'Gregory J. Rosmaita'" <unagi69@concentric.net>, Michael Burks <mburks952@worldnet.att.net>, WAI Interest Group Emailing List <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
At 02:17 PM 11/19/1999 , Steve Donie wrote:
>Yes, the PR folks at Microsoft (not always those who are in the
>Accessibility & Disabilities Group) do like to show off what Microsoft has
>done. Many times they do not understand the positions that the MS A&DG has
>taken (i.e. that Narrator is not a full functioning screen reader, or that
>MS does not want to squash AT vendors), or the sensitivity that the
>community has towards Microsoft's efforts. 

In my opinion, there are positive benefits to Microsoft's PR people
doing this, even if Microsoft's product is exceedingly crappy (I'm
not saying it is or isn't; I'm not a user!).

 From the standpoint of an educator of web designers (and web decision
makers), there is great value in -anyone- getting out the message
that people like Gregory or David even exist!  I've been AMAZED at
how many web designers I've spoken with have stared at me blankly
and uncomprehendingly when I've asked my standard opener question,
"Hi, I'm Kynn, do you know if your site is accessible to people with
disabilities?"  Many of them have told me outright that they've never
even HEARD of blind people using computers nor could they POSSIBLY
imagine them trying to access a web page.

So greater awareness (AWARE-ness?) of the issue is obviously a 
plus, and silly demos like Al Gore playing with a screen magnifier
can help impress upon the public consciousness the idea of blind
folks using computers.

With the good there's sometimes the bad, though -- and this can
happen even with product demonstrations of "good" accessibility
software.  If someone sees a demonstration they may conclude,
incorrectly, that assistive technologies are all that's needed --
because they saw this amazing new screenreader on teevee last night,
they think the problem has been solved!  The web is now accessible,
hurrah, there is much rejoicing!

Naturally, these folks need their awareness raised in a different
direction -- they need the question, "ah, so _does_ your web site
work with assistive technology?  do you know one way or the other?
AOL's didn't...and they got a lawsuit filed because of that."

Raising awareness can be hard work sometimes!

-- 
Kynn Bartlett                                    mailto:kynn@hwg.org
President, HTML Writers Guild                    http://www.hwg.org/
AWARE Center Director                          http://aware.hwg.org/
Received on Friday, 19 November 1999 19:30:42 GMT

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