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Re: New York Times web site

From: Scott Luebking <phoenixl@netcom.com>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 20:10:09 -0800 (PST)
Message-Id: <200002110410.UAA23482@netcom.com>
To: phoenixl@netcom.com, unagi69@concentric.net
Cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Hi, Gregory

I believe that you may have mis-interpreted my statements.  I was referring
to dynamically generated web pages which could be created in a text-only
format or in a graphic format.  I wasn't referring to static web sites.

One thing I hear you saying is:

    (b) is an example of a well-thought-out alternative to the full-blown
	graphical version of the site

which gives the impression that you approve of well thought out
alternatives to graphical versions of web pages on web sites which
are frequently updated.  Am I correct in my understanding?

If the web site were updated ever 15 seconds, it would seem that you
would approve of that.  So, it would seem reasonable to assume that you
would approve of text-only pages which were generated on demand.

I think you are getting to understand a point I've been making.
Dynamically generated web pages can share the same content from
the same source, but present it in different formats.

I question an assumption you are making that all accessibility needs are
usability needs.  This is very faulty.  For example, when I get
on an airplane, I need to use a special narrow aisle chair.  I have never
seen it used by a non-disabled person.  I believe a more accurate perception
is that there are some accessibility needs which also help with usability.
There are other accessibility needs which are very specialized and
do not contribute to usability.  I believe that some disabled people
don't want to see their needs as special because they don't want
to be seen as having special needs.  They sometimes stretch their
accessibility needs into usability needs in order to feel better
about not having special needs.

What is universal design?  It is based on needs.  However, there really has not
been a study about what needs do blind people have when using web
pages.  The only investigations are more along the line of what do
blind people need when they share web pages with sighted people.
The result is that various needs of blind people when using web pages
have been ignored or over-looked.  If needs of a user group are ignored or
over-looked, can a design truly be called universal?


> 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...
> gregory
Received on Thursday, 10 February 2000 23:10:14 UTC

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