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Re: alt text seen or not?

From: Kathleen Anderson <kathleen.anderson@po.state.ct.us>
Date: Mon, 17 Jan 2000 18:09:48 -0500
Message-ID: <3883A13C.FEFA96AF@po.state.ct.us>
To: pjenkins@us.ibm.com
CC: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

pjenkins@us.ibm.com wrote:
> Kathleen wrote:
> >... Granted, there are other browsers that people in this situation can
> use,
> >however, as a state government, we are not in a position to make these
> >browser choices or mandates for our constituents. We need to to
> >accommodate their browser of choice, and their connection by necessity.
> >...
> Why not?  Don't users and agencies that support users also have a role or
> responsibility?  Why is it O.K. to mandate the web authors and browser
> manufactures to follow guidelines, but not require users to upgrade?  No
> government agency [as far as I know] is forcing anyone to use the Web to
> access the services.  There is still some phone access and snail-mail hard
> copy version of the service.  

This is true, but for how long? At our agency, we have found it is much
easier and faster and cheaper to use the web to get information out to
others than printing memos and mailing or faxing them, and at a minimum,
sending them out via the web makes them more accessible. 

  But the agency is saying or at least implying
> that to use the Web services you need a browser and web connection.  Why
> not specify a compliant spec for such "browsers of choice"?
> Many on this list that know me know I'm playing a little devils advocate
> here.  But I do believe that the notion of "requiring a certain browser"
> could be re-stated in a more "accessible-friendly request" such as
> "requiring a user agent that can handle the level 4.1 HTML spec".   No one
> should be requiring a "certain browser", but shouldn't it be OK to say that
> the "browser of choice" should support some level of HTML - such as HTML
> 4.1.  

The problem is that there is not a single browser that supports the
> needs of all users. 

I think the above statement hits the nail right on the head.  Following
the WCAG Guidelines is all well and good, and in an ideal world, if the
browsers currently available on the market supported HTML 4.01, that
would be great. But, they don't. And I if were to put a message on my
sites that said it required a user agent that can handle the level 4.1
HTML spec, how many visitors to my site would know what that means or
whether their browser fit the bill? I'd rather my site be usable by any
person using any browser on any platform.

Many have incorrectly used the short hand of "browser x
> level y" to signify the level of HTML and all the "rendering" capabilities
> needed by some majority of users.  It's that "short hand" that leaves out
> what is or should really be stated.  So agencies, libraries facilities,
> etc., and many times the constituents themselves need to be requested to
> take part in the solution.
> An example:
> If one wants to utilize the closed captions on TV broadcasts, one has to
> purchase the capable TV set.  Sure, all the manufacturers were mandated to
> include the circuitry into the newer TV sets, but the user still had to buy
> the newer set.
> or in other words [replace "TV broadcasts" with "Web content" and replace
> "TV sets" with "user agents" and you get] :

The flaw in this analogy is that TV manufacturers and TV broadcasters
are for the most part, private industry, in a position to dictate
certain standards to their customers. 
We are not in that position. Everything we do is already paid for by the
public. We can't say "This web site you paid for is only accessible if
you have a Pentium computer and a fast modem and install IE5". 

We can't lock taxpayers and constituents out of the place where we are
now doing business. A place of public accomodation should be accessible
to everyone.

> If one wants to utilize the accessible Web content, one has to purchase the
> capable browser+assistive technology combination.  Sure, all the user agent
> manufacturers are being requested to include the "software circuitry" into
> the newer user agents, but the user still has to upgrade to the newer or
> add an additional user agent.
> Regards,
> Phill Jenkins

People who know me know that I am pretty passionate about this and I do
tend to run on.

Kathleen Anderson
State Comptroller's Office
55 Elm Street, Room 101
Hartford, Connecticut 06106
voice: (860) 702-3355   fax: (860) 702-3634
e-mail: kathleen.anderson@po.state.ct.us
URL OSC: http://www.osc.state.ct.us
URL ACCESS: http://www.cmac.state.ct.us/access
Received on Monday, 17 January 2000 18:11:18 UTC

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