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Re: alt text seen or not

From: Bruce Bailey <bbailey@clark.net>
Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2000 09:11:54 -0500
To: "Web Accessibility Initiative" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Cc: <pjenkins@us.ibm.com>, <kathleen.anderson@po.state.ct.us>
Message-ID: <000901bf61bd$f9355b40$1aac66a7@151877>

I've read the replies to your post and I want to thank you for your lucid
responses.  I think you are quite correct when you say:

> I generally believe that there is and will always be a place for assistive
> technology.  Although I support the goal or direction of universal
> accessibility, I believe it is just that, a goal and direction, not a real
> destination.

As Gregg V. wrote in response to Jonathan C. very recently, making
mainstream Web content meaningful to children is beyond the domain of the
WAI.  Kathleen A. argued that we should accommodate:

> A sighted person surfing the net with graphics turned off, because they
> have a low end processor, slow modem, or pay for connect time,

But this is not a WCAG issue either!  Yes, universal design DOES make impact
how well the web works for person with low-end computers (and this too is
often an issue for folks with disabilities, because many are economically
disadvantaged) but this is NOT why ALT text for image maps is a P1
checkpoint!  Presumably, ALT text in image maps helps rich folks who are
browsing with their cell phones -- but we are not putting the extra code in
for them either!

If State Governments want to assure access of their material to all their
constituents, and they have decided that publishing on the Internet is a key
component to that, then adhering to the WCAG is a good step.  A better
(e.g., easier idea to "sell", easier to "police", and effects more users)
step, however, is to implement policy that all pages be valid HTML 4!

If a government thinks that the Internet is a good way to distribute
information, then there is probably something of a mandate to provide
computer access to persons who are economically disadvantaged.  One can make
a good argument that the best way to do that is to put lots of decent
machine into the public libraries.  Free Internet access (from home) is
another popular idea.  I know this is available in many communities,
including the entire state of Maryland.

I would guess that if one is savvy, and lives in a fairly metropolitan area
of the US, then internet browsing CAN be free.  Businesses are throwing out
286 computers and 2400 baud modems.  Toll-free access to telnet clients is
widely available via BBS sites and telecommunication free ware.  Free
browsing (via Lynx) is available from several anonymous telnet sites.  The
big downside is that text-only browsing of the Internet is not appealing to
most people (even if it is free), especially anyone clever enough to piece
together a free computer capable of internet browsing.  (Plus the free email
services are practically impossible to use with Lynx.)  All this means
though, is that one COULD make the argument that web browsing is free -- but
these persons need sites that work well with a text-only browser.  This is
another reasons for adhering to the WCAG and for authoring pages that

Bruce B.
Received on Tuesday, 18 January 2000 09:13:53 UTC

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