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RE: a site in scotland

From: Wayne Myers-Education <wayne.myers@bbc.co.uk>
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 13:57:45 -0000
Message-Id: <41ED4776F432D211ACBD0000F8EF7D7A02DA1C4F@w12wcedxu01.wc.bbc.co.uk>
To: wai-ig list <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
> you should be aware that
> Accessibility has a far lower profile here [in the UK] than in the US.

I'm not sure that's quite true. The DDA in the UK seems to cover the web,
although it has yet to be put to the test, and there exists such as site as
http://www.disability.gov.uk/ , which includes a link to the WAI site on the
home page. The RNIB ( http://www.rnib.org.uk ) is actively campaigning to
improve both awareness of accessibility in general, and the accessibility of
specific sites one by one, one example being my employer, BBC Online.

BBC Online is, I am reliably informed by our marketing people, the largest
European content site, and following RNIB pressure, it now has an accessible
version of almost every page, via the use of a tool called Betsie (
http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/betsie ), which has been released as freeware
and is as a result also being used by a number of other sites as well.
Finally, in more traditional 'profile' terms, there have been a number of
articles on the subject of web accessibility in both the trade and national
press over the last year, including the Guardian, the Independent, New Media
Creative, Internet magazine, BBC Online's Web Wise site, and others.

This is not to say that there are not still many problems, much awareness
raising that still needs to be done and many badly inaccessible UK based
sites that need to be fixed. However, I don't get the impression that the UK
is actually lagging behind the US in this field, not that I am greatly
convinced of the value of such a comparison. (Unless the awareness of
accessibility in the US is much higher than I think, and has reached the
level of everyday breakfast table conversation in the homes of non-web
professionals. Maybe it has - it's a long time since I last had breakfast in
the US.)

On the personal level, in terms of dealing with people, especially web
designers or producers, who are coming across the accessibility issue for
the first time, I have been increasingly finding that it is both possible
and, handled tactfully, a successful strategy, to behave as if accessibility
is something they 'ought to know about' professionally, without having to
have a long justificatory argument. Maybe that's just me, or maybe the state
of play in the UK is such that we are now beginning to move from the initial
'out-of-the-blue' awareness-raising, where the hard part is getting people
to understand the issue at all, to a more implementation focussed
awareness-raising, where the hard part is getting people to fix the
accessibility problems on their sites and change the way they work so as not
to create any more such problems in the future. Mileage, clearly, varies.

In a field where there are still hordes of people calling themeselves web
designers who don't know any HTML and think it is perfectly acceptable to
submit a JPEG as a site design, it's hard to tell.

Cheers etc.,


Wayne Myers
Software Engineer, BBC Digital Media,
Coder/Producer, Betsie Project
Received on Monday, 24 January 2000 08:58:03 UTC

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