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Re: New York Times web site

From: Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 15:24:13 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: Scott Luebking <phoenixl@netcom.com>
Cc: Web Content Accessiblity Guidelines Mailing List <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>, WAI Interest Group Emailing List <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
aloha, scott!

extending my complimentary comments on a text-only version of a site that 
is comprehensively updated every 24 hours to a text-only version of a more 
static site mis-characterizes my comments...

my response represents a gut-level reaction that is (a) common amongst 
blind users because they have no better alternatives; (b) is an example of 
a well-thought-out alternative to the full-blown graphical version of the 
site; (c) a solution which not only pre-dates WCAG; but which was not 
intended to be a quote accessibility-oriented unquote implementation; and 
(d) is specific to a particular site which is conscientiously updated to be 
in sync with the full-blown graphical version of the site...

furthermore, whilst i am philosophically opposed to the maintenance of 
parallel text-only sites, the new york times' text-only slash low bandwidth 
site does not strike me as an incidence of cyber-ghettoization, as it is 
not a static parallel, but is as dynamically updated as the high-bandwidth 
version of the site...  and, i'd hardly be surprised if the content 
contained in both versions comes from one central source and is then dumped 
into the appropriate template...

the text-only slash low-bandwidth version of the new york times site is 
simply an example of providing a much needed service -- making the content 
of the site available to the broadest range of users possible...  the 
text-only version wasn't created with accessibility in mind, but with 
convenience, general usability, and (most importantly from the service 
providers' point of view) maximum market penetration in mind -- you may 
recall that the online version of the new york times was not originally 
intended to be free forever, but was originally intended as a pilot program 
to ascertain demand for an online version of the newspaper, which the times 
originally envisioned as a fee-for-service site, out of fear of undermining 
sales of the print edition, but which proved so popular that no-fee access 
to the content of the newspaper continues today...  in summation, it is an 
example of something that works for a lot of disabled users by 
happenstance, and not design, which bolsters the argument that 
accessibility issues aren't quote special case unquote  issues, but general 
usability issues...


Scott wrote:
>Hi, Gregory
>Your response is kind of unexpected.  First, the use of text-only versions
>means that the NY Times is out of compliance with the guidelines.
>Another interesting aspect is that your comment supports what I've been
>saying about the usefulness of multiple versions of dynamically
>generated web pages.  It also points out that the guidelines may need
>to have different requirements depending on whether the web pages are
>created dynamically or not.
> > aloha, scott!
> >
> > please let them know that the text-only slash low bandwidth version of
> > their site makes them the most accessible online newspaper that i've 
> yet to
> > encounter....
> >
> > overall, their web site (with a few significant holes, such as the 
> magazine
> > section) is easy to use, and is quite a popular source of news for blind
> > users, especially those who use lynx...
> >
> > gregory.
Received on Thursday, 10 February 2000 15:16:04 UTC

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