W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > October to December 1999

are we reaching our target audience? (was: Curtis Chung Interviewed on slashdot)

From: Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
Date: Tue, 07 Dec 1999 23:06:39 -0500
Message-Id: <4.1.19991207220633.00b5eb20@pop3.concentric.net>
To: David Poehlman <poehlman@clark.net>
Cc: WAI Interest Group Emailing List <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
aloha, david!

thanks for posting the URL for the curtis chung interview on slashdot...
at the risk of violating several 
international copyright conventions, here's some of the content from:

i took a listen to the questions which have already been posted, in an
attempt to ascertain the accessibility awareness level of the
self-proclaimed gear-heads and nerds who populate slashdot, and who
happened across, or who were attracted to the posted topic:

This week's interview guest is Curtis Chung, Director of Technology for the
National Federation of the Blind, the group that is suing AOL over access
for blind users. Chung is a bona fide expert on computer use by the blind;
he's blind himself, and before he took his current job he spent 17 years
"...with American Express as a designer/consultant, providing technical
support for mainframe and mid range communication and operating system
software." So ask away. One question per post, please. 10 - 15 selected
questions will be forwarded to Curtis Tuesday. Answers will appear Friday. 

and -- as the following representative sample illustrates -- save for the
occasional legitimate question and thoughtful comment, the level of
awareness (let alone sensitivity) displayed by the denizens of slashdot in
the posts and comments they have submitted to curtis is disturbingly
(albeit not really surprisingly) low...   it will, indeed, be interesting
to hear which questions curtis chooses to answer...

what follows is less a digest, than a to-do list for the Education and
Outreach Working Group!  Note: this digest only contains the questions
posed by visitors to slashdot to curtis -- threads sprout from several, and
can be accessed using the above (and below) cited URL...  i apologize for
the size of this post, but it takes a lot of patience (or
copying-and-pasting from a browser to a text editor) to wade through the
comments collected here, and i merely wanted to make the comments of the
average person-in-the-infobahn available to the widest possible audience...

--- begin content from http://slashdot.org/articles/99/12/06/093217.shtml
Re:a question (Score:1)
by Clanner on Monday December 06, @04:25PM EST (#259)
(User Info)
I'm curious to know what the ADA would deem the limit for accessibility
issues. Granted, I don't know anyone who is legally blind in both eyes, but
how would the blind be able to view a medium that is based in visual arts?
If I post a website that deals primarily in, say, selling visual artwork,
how would I realistically have a blind user view the artwork? What if my
site is meant to demonstrate some Shockwave animations? At what point, if
any, am I not responsible for accomodating every possible user? 

As a second question, I'd like to know if there was any dialogue between
the NFB and AOL prior to the lawsuit, and if there was, what was the result
of it? Or did the NFB target AOL strictly because it is the market leader
in it's market? 

As a third, and final, question, wouldn't the money spent on this lawsuit
be better spent on developing tools to make it easier for web designers to
make their sites more accessible to all users? 


Re:a question (Score:2, Insightful)
by FFFish on Monday December 06, @04:33PM EST (#264)
(User Info) 
Perhaps even more important than what aspects can make computers more
accessible is
What are the financial benefits to companies that make their products -
hardware, software, webpages - more accessible to the handicapped?

Y'see, if there's no advantage to it, no one will do it except under pain
of penalty. 

A description of advantages can be very persuasive: by making your webpage
blind-compatible, you also make it useable by high-end, Palm Pilot-carrying
executives; you make it printer-compatible, which means it'll show up in
staff rooms; whatever.

The accessibility laws are good, yes... but there need to be positive
economic gains if it's really going to fly.

Another question (Score:2, Interesting)
by whoosp on Monday December 06, @09:20PM EST (#301)
(User Info)
Do you think Microsoft has done a good job of producing products that are
accessible to blind and disabled people? 

Re:AOL? Come on!! (Score:1)
by Ian Bicking (bickiia@earlham.edu) on Monday December 06, @02:20PM EST (#200)
(User Info) http://www.cs.earlham.edu/~bickiia

Challenge M$ or the govenment maybe but AOL just seems lame. AOL is one of
the biggest online content and access providers. Microsoft and the
government are in very different positions. And, for that matter, they
haven't done too poorly. Not great, but not nearly as badly as AOL for
accessibility.Re:AOL? Come on!! (Score:1)
by ph0rk (ph0rk@nospam.you.punks.schizoid.com) on Monday December 06,
@04:00PM EST (#250)
(User Info) http:/fork.schizoid.com/

"They could have done better." er. you've got me. Why should the be 'doing'
at all? I always thought that there were braille-monitors for reading text,
so that should clear up that problem. (heh, remember whistler in sneakers?)
As for pictures, is there a special version of TV for the blind? Not to be
an antagonist here, but, despite it's origins, isn't the web a more or less
graphical entity? how in the hell are pictures supposed to be communicated,
lengthy text captions? AOL as a service, i believe, has some text
functionality, stuff that could be read out, or sent to a braille monitor.
(i.e. the email stuff, the stock stuff, etc.) As for the disability law, is
MSNBC or CNN next? (heh. what about MTV for deaf people). once again, i'm
not trolling or anything, but have they lost their minds? This sounds like
suing a hotdog stand for not having vegan-dogs. 

a question (Score:3, Interesting)
by mosch (yougotthisfromslashdot@overtone.org) on Monday December 06,
@11:04AM EST (#1)
(User Info) http://overtone.org/

What, in your mind, is the most important aspect to keeping computers
accessible to the blind?

My Q's (All related) (Score:1)
by j a w a d on Monday December 06, @11:06AM EST (#3)
(User Info) http://jawad.cyvox.com/

How much progress has been made for accessibity for the blind? How much is
there left to go? Is it getting easier or harder to access computer? 


University computer labs and the blind. (Score:5, Interesting)
by sinnergy (froggy@eecs.cwru.edu) on Monday December 06, @11:09AM EST (#5)
(User Info) http://froggy.raex.com/

I am the system administrator for a rather prestigious and middle sized
university in the MidWest. I am responsible for a number of computer labs
in my department. As usual, our budget is extraordinarily tight and it is
difficult to replace new machines on a timely basis, let alone make them
more accessible to those with disabilites. To the best of my knowledge, I
have to have a blind or visually challenged student or faculty member use
my labs or ask for interfaces that will let them use my labs. 

What are some easy things that I can do, or what products should I purchase
to allow visually challenged students use computer technology here? We have
invested money in purchasing large monitors for all the computers, for
students with bad sight, but I fear that eventually we'll run into a
situation where we will need to accomodate a blind person at our
workstations. I want to make sure that we at least know what we should do
when (not if) we need to do this. 

What can I do, what are my responsibilities (Score:5, Insightful)
by handorf (handorf@penguinARGHNOSPAMPLEASEGODpowered.com) on Monday
December 06, @11:09AM EST (#7)
(User Info) http://handorf.penguinpowered.com/~benvh

It is difficult for me to understand, as a programmer, the limitations and
efforts I need to make in UI design in my projects. What approaches do you
recommend and which should be avoided? Do you have any examples of a
mainstream project that was done well from this perspective?
-- I'm omnipotent, I just don't care. 
If you want to quote me in an article, contact me for permission.

ADA and AOL lawsuit (Score:4, Interesting)
by ArtPepper on Monday December 06, @11:10AM EST (#9)
(User Info) 
Would you briefly explain the type of access you are expecting AOL (and
presumbably all other web businesses) to provide? 

Re:ADA and AOL lawsuit by Redundant() (Score:3) Monday December 06,
@12:18PM EST 
Web page accessibility (Score:3, Insightful)
by sinnergy (froggy@eecs.cwru.edu) on Monday December 06, @11:11AM EST (#10)
(User Info) http://froggy.raex.com/

What can your standard small-scale webmaster/content provider do to make
sure blind and visually challenged individuals can use their web pages?
- CWRUton for Life - (sad but true!)

Question (Score:4, Interesting)
by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 06, @11:12AM EST (#11)

Why do you believe that a private company should be forced into providing a
service? Why not let the market dictate?

Re:Question (Score:4, Interesting)
by jilles (jgurp@yahoo.com) on Monday December 06, @12:22PM EST (#106)
(User Info) http://www.ipd.hk-r.se/jvg

The market dictates that blind people are a pain in the arse. Leaving it to
the market would ensure that they would be excluded from dayly life. 

In my opinion this is unnecesarily cruel and a few simple, low cost
regulations can make life much more interesting for blind people. Some
patterns in the tiles on the pavement allow blind people to find their way.
The cost of providing such tiles is so low that in my opinion its almost
criminal not to provide them in large public areas. Why would websites be
different? It can't be that hard to make a webpage accessible. 

Companies like AOL should be ashamed of letting it come to a trial. What
they should have done is realize that there are lots of blind people who'd
love to get online. Apparently the market mechanism failed to pick this up.
And why should it? Obviously there's no billion dollar market in webpages
for blind people so AOL doesn't care about it. Making their pages more
accessible won't hurt them a bit so lets make them do it. 

Many people seem to have this naive idea that the market mechanism takes
care of anything. Pure market mechanism is what rules animals. Big animals
eat small animals and animals only work together if there's something to
gain (evolutionary advantages for instance). A free market works in the
same way. There's a small top of rich people who rip of the people who are
less fortunate. A little regulation can fix some of the shortcomings and is
crucial for the quality of life for the majority of the people. 

It wouldn't surprise me if AOL would be advertising its sites as friendly
for blind people in a few months (after they loose the trial). I hope AOL
loses and gets lots of negative publicity on this. It might cause other
providers to act a little more friendlier towards their customers.

Schwab Commercial (Score:1)
by MacJedi (macjedi@metalab.unc.edu) on Monday December 06, @11:14AM EST (#13)
(User Info) http://metalab.unc.edu/macjedi

There is a Charles Schwab commercial from a few months ago which shows a
blind man using some sort of braile "monitor" to read stockquotes. How
widespread are these sort of device? /joeyoSlashdot User #172

Not so Sure about this lawsuit (Score:5, Insightful)
by JamesSharman (james@exaflop.org) on Monday December 06, @11:14AM EST (#14)
(User Info) http://www.exaflop.org

My Question: If a website would have a very low readership level by a
specific group (ie: The blind) do you feel that efort should still be put
to providing accesability? I have nothing against the disabled and
personaly I think attention should be paid to makeing everything as
accesable as possible, however their is a limit, I run a website where the
main content is programming docs for 3D graphics rendering.If organisations
can sue sites for not being accessable to one group or another this poses a
problem. I run a small and insignifcant little site giving technical stuff
to programmers, I try and support everything but users using certain older
browsers etc.. get left behindIn short I am sympathetic to the cause but I
have trouble at the moment finding time to develop content let alone put
structural work into the site for accesability or any other reason.
Naturaly of course it's only the big boys who have to worry about law suits
etc but it does worry me.Post positive replys at Slashdot where people will
read them, negative ones at Exaflop where they won't.

style guide, consultants (Score:2, Interesting)
by andrel on Monday December 06, @11:16AM EST (#16)
(User Info) 
Do you have a style guide you recommend explaining how to write web pages
which are accessible by the blind? 

Can you recommend outside consultants available for hire who will critique
a web page and identify accessibility problems?

Fundamental problems in Web architechture? (Score:4, Interesting)
by Matt Bridges (bridge19@NOSPAMmsu.edu) on Monday December 06, @11:17AM
EST (#17)
(User Info) 

Sorry for the long-winded lead in to the question. Recently I tried to get
a blind friend's computer to access the web in a blind-accessible fashion.
I tried to do this with a screen-reader program, but a few major problems
came up: when the text was in columns or frames, the reader software kept
reading from left to right, mixing the two or more columns. Also, the
screen reader could not decipher the graphical buttons that many pages use
for even simple functions like "next" or "up one level." In addition, few
web pages currently offer a text-only version of their pages. However, if
someone on a PC goes to www.downloads.com, it takes them to the PC section,
while a Mac automatically goes to the Mac section. This auto-redirection
seems like it would be the perfect way to have two pages, one text-only and
one graphical, and do it transparantly for both blind and sighted users. Do
you think that such a standard for having two web pages will ever become

Re:Fundamental problems in Web architechture? by jilles (Score:2) Monday
December 06, @12:30PM EST 
Driving (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 06, @11:18AM EST (#19)

Don't you think that using a pc is more like driving a car than reading book?

Broadband and Blind Users (Score:2, Interesting)
by TheFitz (eric@pleasestopspam.amntv.com) on Monday December 06, @11:19AM
EST (#20)
(User Info) http://www.amntv.com/

How important do you think the advance of Broadband internet will be in
helping Blind users getting on the internet in allowing more streaming of
audio for content?
"Out, OUT! You demons of STUPIDITY!" - Dogbert

This could get out of hand (Score:0, Troll)
by JohnG (jeg@dontvisispam.net) on Monday December 06, @11:21AM EST (#22)
(User Info) http://www.scinomaly.org

I don't think it is up to a service provider to provide every service known
to man. I mean if the blind sue AOL they might as well sue every other ISP
on the face of the planet for no blind support. And store bought computers
don't ship with blind accesibility products, what the hell, lets sue them too.

Of course why stop with the blind? From now on any TV Show that is not
close captioned should be sued on behalf of the deaf. Porn sites should be
sued on behalf of the impotent.

The real solution to this problem is to invest resources into creating
hardware/software that would make accessiblity for the blind more
achievable. Think about it, with the court costs involved in sueing AOL
they could maybe create something useful, instead all they have is a trial
they likely won't win. 
Scinomaly.org Science outside the norm

Open Source and blind users. (Score:5, Interesting)
by Noryungi (n o r y u n g i @ y a h o o . c o m) on Monday December 06,
@11:21AM EST (#23)
(User Info)

This is a question that comes from a very frustrated "user". I worked for
almost a year for a special european technical agency for the blind, so I
guess I probably have a little bit more of experience than the average
computer user. 

Anyway, I have been helping a blind friend for over a year, now, trying to
get his Braille portable computer to work properly within Windows 95. Let
me just put it this way: it's a nightmare. This machine costs more than US$
10,000 and it just does not work. The company that made the machine refuses
to support things as basic as a modem (required to connect to the ISP) or
software, such as Lynx, that make it a lot more easier to connect to the
information he needs. 

My friend is just as frustrated as I am, especially since he bought the
computer to be able to attend programming classes and basic Computer
Science courses. The university requires all these classes to be based on
Windows 95 only. Now, he can't attend these classes because his stupid
machine does not work with the GUI we all love to hate . 

In your opinion: 
A. Is there any good computer/supplier for blind user that *have* to use
B. Is it possible that blind users (such as my friend) will be "locked-out"
of CS classes because of Windows predominance? 
C. What can we (the "Open Source Community") do to make our solutions
(Linux/BSD/whatever) the #1 computer solution for blind users? 


Web Page Accessability (Score:1)
by LeRoco on Monday December 06, @11:21AM EST (#24)
(User Info) http://rockd.8m.com

I have read that graphics are most often a problem when the handicapped
community trys to read a Web page. I believe that same article said that
one can simply use the "alt" tag to identify the graphic. As Web Page
programmers use more JavaScript, ASP, Shockwave pages,etc. What particular
items should we be utilizing to program our Web Sites pages for handicapped

Question about Blind Computer Use (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 06, @11:25AM EST (#27)

Do you find that technical advances are being made for the disabled? Do you
think the tech industry is devoting enough time and effort to the cause of
making computing truly universal?

Best platform? (Score:3, Interesting)
by imac.usr (simple2use@localhost.earthlink.net) on Monday December 06,
@11:27AM EST (#29)
(User Info) http://localhost

What do you consider the best OS platform for the disabled today, and why? 

-- I use Macs for work, Linux for education, and Windows for cardplaying.

another case of crippled people bringing us down? (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 06, @11:30AM EST (#31)

Being blind makes a person handicapped. Why change access for 99% of users
to benefit 1%? If there is a market for it, a client-side solution can be
created. If there is not a market, a person could organize an effort to
create one on their own. Lawsuits only hurt everyone and make lawyers rich. 

How about some background to put this in context? (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 06, @11:30AM EST (#32)

For those of us with no background in this area, it would be useful if you
would explain why you believe it is appropriate to sue AOL for not
providing this service rather than taking some other action such as, say,
pushing for the development of software to make *any* GUI-based Windows or
Linux program usable by the blind. 

--- Brian 

Other disabilities and the web, and net (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 06, @11:31AM EST (#33)

I see many questions here about making pages and interfaces accessible to
the blind and I expect you will doubtless address them quite well. 

There are, however, other disablities and for which you will likley have a
better perspective than most. 
So... for web (and any other net items, and general User Interface for the
programers) what things do you recommend?

Visually Impaired demographics (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 06, @11:32AM EST (#35)

What type of demand is there in the blind communities for "blind
accessible" pr0n sites? 

Perhaps there are devices to enhance the experience through tactile sensory

How about a 3rd Party converting AOL -> Braile ? (Score:1, Interesting)
by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 06, @11:36AM EST (#38)

Would you be open to a settlement whedrein AOL would give the permission to
a third party to allow them to convert (I presume on a daily, ir not hourly
basis) AOL pages into some sort of braile and.or other compatible format?
Since web pages can be either updated infrequently, or constantly (i.e.
dynamic content, etc), do you (by your lawsuit) expect AOL to constantly
translate their content into some sort of blind-accesible format? Or do you
propose a third party be involved? Also, how do you see a possible ruling
in your favor (assuming you get one) effecting the newspaper (print)
industry, and the print industry in general? mike - mloll@wam.umd.edu

Security Exchange Comission (Score:3, Interesting)
by Poe (poe@slackworks.com) on Monday December 06, @11:36AM EST (#39)
(User Info) http://www.slackworks.com/

The use of alt tags in HTML is an obvious method for compliance with the
ADA, but what about DHTML forms and Java Applets? Some of the coding issues
here can be quite complex. All of our users have to be able to use
sophisticated database search tools, and read the results. Do you reccomend
a separate, compliant website, or can this be done in a single site? Can
you reccomend a typical scenario for testing? (Is voice synthesized lynx
the most commonly used program? How is input different for a blind user?) 

I am currently working on a government intranet website that will have
around 3,000 users, so we are required to comply. 

Thank you for your time.

Techno-geek (Score:1)
by Nyarly (nyarly@center.universe.net) on Monday December 06, @11:36AM EST
(User Info) 

What do you feel are the most exciting technical developments in blind
accessiblity? I'm thinking text-to-speech, braille monitors, that sort of
thing. But I'm always curious about good solutions to knotty problems, of
which this is certainly one.
Ushers will eat latecomers.

Question (Score:1)
by Rotten on Monday December 06, @11:36AM EST (#41)
(User Info) 

1)Is the NFB supporting any open software development to make the Internet
accesible for the blind?

Voting with your dollar (Score:5, Interesting)
by DanaL (DanaLarose@netscape.net) on Monday December 06, @11:37AM EST (#42)
(User Info) 

My question is why choose AOL to target with your lawsuit? Are they the
only provider who does not make their system accessable, or is it a general

If they are the only non-compliant one, why not 'vote with your dollar' and
encourage blind web users to go with a provider who is willing to meet
their needs? If the problem is widespread, why not include more providers
in the lawsuit? 

(Oops, I guess that is more than one question, but they're related I think
:) ) 


Go eukaryotes!!!

Pragmatism vs. Idealism (Score:3, Insightful)
by Catamaran on Monday December 06, @11:39AM EST (#46)
(User Info) 

Is providing access for disabled people always a matter of weighing cost
vs. benefit? How do we measure these things? What is the cost to society of
putting brail on elevator button? Negligible. But how about requiring all
books to be published in audio format? And how to we put a measure on the
suffering of those denied access. Thank you.

A question (Score:1)
by Whatthehellever on Monday December 06, @11:39AM EST (#47)
(User Info) http://www.yannetta.com

For the blind to access the internet is not the responsibility of every
single company in the world. Just because no one has come up with a program
that reads html and converts it to audio dosen't mean us webmasters are
responsible. There are many things that blind people JUST SHOULD NOT DO.
Piloting an aircraft, driving, riding a Harley Davidson. What would happen
if a blind person sued Harley-Davidson because they never produced a bike
for the blind? Blind people suing AOL is absurd.
EMAIL MOI @--,--`--

Other disabilities (Score:3, Insightful)
by / on Monday December 06, @11:41AM EST (#50)
(User Info) 

There are plenty of diabilities out there that don't fit into the classic
description of "lacking the ability to do [pick one of the typical five
senses] or stuck in a wheel-chair". How do you see technology either
helping or failing to help these people? 

Some examples come to mind: someone with fibromyalgia who has symptoms of
chronic fatigue isn't going to be helped by a bigger monitor or by
voice-recognition software. Someone with Marfans syndrome might have
trouble doing extended periods of typing, but again voice-recognition
software is an imperfect solution. Someone who suffers from brief but
common epileptic seizures might require a novel biofeedback system where
the computer stops demanding or conveying information at the moment the
seizure strikes and resumes after it passes. 

And as technology allows people who suffer from such "invisible
disabilities" to integrate themselves better into society, will their
social plight of not having society recognize their problems and accomodate
them where and when necessary grow even worse?If one is really a superior
person, the fact is likely to leak out without too much assistance -- John
Andrew Holmes

Voice Synthesis (Score:2)
by dmorin on Monday December 06, @11:42AM EST (#51)
(User Info) 

Does voice synthesis play a large role in making the web more accessible to
the blind? What is your opinion on the quality of today's voice sythesis
engines? And by that I mean those more generic text-to-speech translators
that can read anything you give them (i.e., from the web), not pages that
have been specifically coded to generate high quality speech. d

XML, and intonations (Score:4, Interesting)
by RobotWisdom on Monday December 06, @11:45AM EST (#53)
(User Info) http://www.robotwisdom.com

Two parter: 1) Scientific American claimed recently that XML would make
things better for blind users. Do you agree, or is this hype? 2) A blind
user on comp.ai.nat-lang named Chaumont Devin suggested that the feature
he'd most like to see in a text-to-speech application would involve
changing the intonation as it approached a comma, period, or question mark.
Is this a generally-agreed-on desirable feature, and has it been
implemented yet?

What effect does GUI have on blind? (Score:4, Insightful)
by Eric Green (e_l_green@hotmail.com) on Monday December 06, @11:46AM EST (#54)
(User Info) http://members.tripod.com/~e_l_green

What effect has the rise of the Graphical User Interface and the Macintosh
and Windows operating systems had on the ability of the blind to use
computers? How do you feel makers of computers can design their user
interfaces to be more friendly to the visually impaired, yet still
retaining the user-friendliness that novice sighted users desire? -E 
-- There is no conspiracy. [Not speaking for my cats!]

Attitudes (Score:5, Interesting)
by Slamtilt (slamtilt@mwahahahaha.com) on Monday December 06, @11:48AM EST
(User Info) http://www.mwahahahaha.com

When the lawsuit against AOL was discussed on /., there were a fair number
of posts that essentially commented "Why the hell are blind people trying
to access the web anyway? It's a visual medium!". Do you run into this
attitude a lot, and what do you find to be good ways of overcoming it?

Simple Question (Score:1)
by scagnetti on Monday December 06, @11:50AM EST (#59)
(User Info) 

How much is a company expected to pay to accomadate the blind? If the cost
for AOL (big if) to update for blind access were too great should they just
shut their doors?

Who (and What) becomes a target for compliance? (Score:1)
by dpdx (dpdx@nospam.teleport.com) on Monday December 06, @11:50AM EST (#60)
(User Info) 

One of the reasons I've read for the lawsuit (and for suing AOL in
particular) are that AOL is SO widespread and offers such a service to its
users that blind people and others feel unfairly shut out by AOL's failure
to comply with ADA. 

But where do you draw the line? I ask this two ways: 

1)What exactly of or within AOL must be made compliant to satisfy NFB's claim? 

2)When does a commercial site begin to draw the scrutiny of NFB? Will they
generally have to get as big as AOL, or does joe-schmoe.com have to become
compliant the minute he offers an Amazon associate program? 

Thanks in advance.
The antidote to bad speech is not censorship, but more speech.

Who do you think your hurting? (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 06, @11:51AM EST (#61)

In EVERYTHING I've seen, here is what is goin to happen with a big lawsuit
with AOL. You will win, AOL will pay up the big bucks. You'll get rich (or
your foundation, or wherever the money is going), and guess who will pay
the bill? Not AOL, no way, it will be the millions of people who USE AOL,
and they will pay with higher prices or more Ads to have to sort through.
So my question is, why sue? Why not aproach AOL and say "Hey, we would like
bline people to be able to access your system. Here are some suggestions
for how it can be done, or your could hire us to do it!"

The Profession (Score:5, Insightful)
by Vicegrip on Monday December 06, @11:51AM EST (#62)
(User Info) 

It strikes me as a monumental task to be a software developper without the
benefit of one's vision.
In many ways, I fear the loss of my sight more than just about anything in
this world. 

I was wondering what skills you have developped over the years that have
allowed you to succeed in a profession that is inherently visual in nature? 

What changes to the way we do things, do you think, would have made your
job much easier for you?

Question (Score:1)
by jregan on Monday December 06, @11:52AM EST (#63)
(User Info) 

Do you think that development for the blind/vi would be most quickly
achieved by marketing the added features for the sighted? For example, to
get a screen reader for X (I haven't seen any so far), give the option that
message box titles are read, as with the Mac; or the reader could read
e-mail while the user did something else.

A bit critical. (Score:1)
by cruise (cruise@openverse.org) on Monday December 06, @11:52AM EST (#64)
(User Info) http://openverse.org/

Although I think that access to the blind is a nice thing to make available
I don't understand why AOL should modify it's existing software to make it
accessable to the blind. 

There are many other ISPs out there which could be used to gain access to
the internet and many softwares which can be used to assist the blind in
browsing the web using those ISPs. What is so special about AOL (other than
the obvious point that they are the biggest ISP). 

Is the lawsuit targeting AOL because they can afford a lawsuit? I'm just
looking for understanding here, and being a bit critical of the situation
in the process. 

OpenVerse Visual Chat (Score:3, Insightful)
by Signal 11 (signal11@mediaone.net?Subject=Slashdot) on Monday December
06, @11:53AM EST (#65)
(User Info) http://www.malign.net

It may be cold-hearted for me to say this, but the question the lawsuit
raises is "should websites be forced to be accessible by everyone
regardless of handicap, or should those with handicaps seek alternative
technologies / methods to combat their handicap?" I've designed a few
websites right now and I'm naturally opposed to anything that increases my
workload. I'm especially against such legislation being made against
"corporations" because it will inevitably leak back to not for profits and
then to personal pages. I know where you stand, and you know where I stand.
My question is simple: Do you believe that handicapped people should first
seek a resolution on their own, or should businesses be required to remedy
the handicap themselves
"Why, oh why didn't I take the blue pill?" 

SlashDot.org friendly to the blind? (Score:1)
by sanderb on Monday December 06, @11:53AM EST (#66)
(User Info) 

Basically, what are the some easy things you can do to make a website
easier to read for the blind? Is it correct to assume you 'read' pages with
some text-tool not unlike lynx, and that us webdesigners could learn by
looking at a lynxed page? If I look at slashdot with lynx I go insane, the
sidebars of the central table are all filled with text which you hardly see
when browsing with a graphical browser, but irritate the hell out of me
when browsed with lynx (lots of extra text above and below the text). For
my site, I check whether a user is using lynx and remove the sidebars, but
only for lynx. 

CSS and accessibility (Score:1)
by K. on Monday December 06, @11:56AM EST (#68)
(User Info) http://stunbunny.org/

Have you read the provisions for disabled access 
in the CSS specifications, and if so, what do you 
think of them? 

How would you prefer to speed up adoption of these 
and other techniques, through legislation or 

-- Proud descendant of semi-nomadic cattle-herders.

Silly! (Score:1, Flamebait)
by Lord Kano on Monday December 06, @11:58AM EST (#70)
(User Info) http://trfn.clpgh.org/wpngg

Isn't this just a little silly? 

It's not AOL's fault that people can't see the screen. Should Jewish or
Islamic people sue the company that makes SPAM because they don't have a
pork-free version? Of courst not! 

This is just about more money for the lawyers. 


JAWS and failures (Score:1)
by jake_the_blue_spruce on Monday December 06, @11:58AM EST (#71)
(User Info) 

JAWS and similar tools seek to convert visual hypermedia into verbal.
However, the meta data ("LINK") is distracting when communicated verbally,
but essential to HTML capabilities. 

XML's linking behaviour is much more complex than HTML's. Won't it just be
increasingly distracting and difficult to relate and then to navigate

"There's so much left to know/ and I'm on the road to find out." -Cat Stevens

technology, the handicapped, and police states (Score:3, Interesting)
by / on Monday December 06, @12:01PM EST (#75)
(User Info) 

One way to read history is to see that much of technology (specifically
medicine) first arose in the treatment of disease and disabilities, and was
then (or yet will be) applied in an Orwellian fashion to society as a whole
or to "undesirable" segments of society. Lobotomies were first developed to
treat schizophrenics and were later applied to common criminals. Eugenics
as a social movement owes much (everything) to theories of Darwinian
evolution and the discovery of genetically inherited traits. 

In the next century, many physical disabilities might be treated or cured
with neural implants. Do you see cause for concern that as these
technologies develop, they might reach beyond their originally intended

If one is really a superior person, the fact is likely to leak out without
too much assistance -- John Andrew Holmes

The future of blind computing (Score:3, Insightful)
by Kismet on Monday December 06, @12:02PM EST (#76)
(User Info) http://www.xmission.com/~pmccombs

I have spent a lot of time helping a blind college professor (and leader of
the local chapter of the NFB) with his computers. He is quite an
intelligent man and more computer literate than a great majority of the
American public. 

I have noticed a few unfortunate things in working with him. First, it is
difficult to get techinical support. Although not difficult work, most
technicians are afraid of a computer that talks. Next, special hardware for
the blind seems to be getting antiquated as companies turn more to software
emulation that often does not provide the quality that is needed. Lastly,
"special" hardware and software is often outrageously priced (such as OCR
software) just because it is "for the blind." 

What would be the disposition of organizations, such as your own, to
support and advocate Open Source computer accessability projects to help
bring computing power to more handicapped people everywhere? I see this as
a solution to a struggling cause.

Web Site Accessability. (Score:1)
by Hallow on Monday December 06, @12:04PM EST (#78)
(User Info) http://hallow.webmages.com/

What do you think the likelyhood is of businesses (I'm thinking especially
of places of public accomodations, such as banks) being sued for not having
reasonable accessible web sites?

Distance Learning and accessibility (Score:1)
by curtain on Monday December 06, @12:05PM EST (#81)
(User Info) 

How has distance education done in the accessibility area? Is offering
audio versions of the lectures and presentations enough or is more needed
to make the experience for visually impaired persons worthwhile? Thank you
for your time.

XML and CSS etc. (Score:1)
by lonely (lonely@spamx.eh.org) on Monday December 06, @12:07PM EST (#83)
(User Info) 

Do you think that the proper use of XML can help developers to target web
pages at different consumers... I am talking about WAP and other wierd web
appliances here. 

I did some work at uni on trying to stream information to different devices
and the technical difference between a blind person and a WAP device is
minimal. When I created web pages for my department I made dam sure the
degraded after reading an artical about the dude who wrote speakEmacs. (Who
is a very cool programmer, I want his kit so I can program in the garden!)
Unfortunately this was before XML so they looked a bit crap! 

If the original information is in xml they it is easy for the web designer
to provide a proper style sheet for display the information as required.
(By example not using text buttons) 

Most really bug web sites now, for example CNN and BBC, store there files
in back-end databases which then format the pages on request. This means
that old pages take on any changes to look and feel. (Correct me if I am

As a note to those people are saying that blind people do not have a right
to use the web... or related posts. Even if your are biggoted, think how
this form of technology and design will help you surf using a cell phone. 

Also this form of degerative technology is good for third world countries
who have limited bandwidth. Surfing over Iridium? Use text only mode which
is stunningly similar to the mode for people with sight problems. 

(Excuse the non-PC text in this post... in a rush and want to ask this

Disclaimer: I work for Oracle who has a investement in XML and Databases.
He that lives on Hope, dies farting
     -- Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1763
Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
   WebMaster and Minister of Propaganda, VICUG NYC
Received on Tuesday, 7 December 1999 22:59:33 UTC

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