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RE: How to convince businesses to be accessible...

From: Paul Davis <paul@ten-20.com>
Date: Thu, 05 Oct 2000 15:08:12 +0100
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

Speaking as a dyed in the wool marketing man with a passing experience on 
the internet, this is one of the major problems a website designer has. 
There are lies, dammed lies, then statistics.....etc. etc. However, I do 
believe the one about the average modem being a 28k, I was on a client's 
computer the other day with one....ughhhh. The fact is, the internet is a 
marketing medium and is a matter of targeting your market correctly (Gap 
made that decision deliberately to exclude disabled people as non 

In a conversation last year with a then senior Kellogg man in the UK, I 
pointed out to him that the bells and whistles on tonythetiger.com (never 
mind the fact that it was an image only site) would crash many kids 
computers. It did it to mine the first time I accessed. I had to close down 
a couple of programs I had open on the task bar. This came as a shock to 
him as when he had viewed the site it worked perfectly, but then he was in 
their main UK office in Manchester and he was using the latest technology. 
And I suspect it was also on the designers' hard drive!!

This is the problem. Businesses all too often have fast modern computers 
that can handle flashy gizmos and complicated Java script therefore lack 
the ability to envisage what is actually out there. Try surfing on a 486 
and see what happens!!

I believe it was William Loughborough who last week mentioned the other 
approach. Which I whole heartedly agree with, in the light of the Olympic 
fiasco and the fact that the Human Rights Act along with the DDA came into 

As a result of this action can a web designer afford to be responsible for 
building an inaccessible site? In the UK the Human Rights Act came into 
full force on the 2nd of October. Ten-20 plans to use it starting with 
inaccessible web sites that are supposed to be for disabled people and are 
in fact commercial operations out to make a fast (non ethical) buck.

The Question of who is responsible for the site in the event of a legal 
action is an interesting one. I think that the designer is accountable as 
he/she as the 'expert' should know better. Ignorance is not a defence in 
law. The one thing for certain is, if writs start flying the company who 
commissioned the site will not claim "it's a fair cop guv". Chances are 
they will duck for cover and do their very best to pass them on. Therefore 
when costing out a website the designer should now be thinking about 
quoting a higher figure for a non accessible site as potentially they could 
be taking on a risk. I also suspect this approach may work better with the 
larger corporate customer as opposed to the smaller business man, where 
price is everything. These days everyone and their cousin is a web designer 
prepared to do an iffy job for 50. It needs responsible web designers to 
brush up their own act in the marketing department and present their 
argument professionally. Any responsible businessman would then see the 
logic, and if they don't, you do not get to build a website that could come 
back and bite you in the butt at a later date.

Sorry to rabbit on a bit.
Paul Davis
www.ten-20.com The UK portal site for disabled people and associated 
Received on Thursday, 5 October 2000 10:08:24 UTC

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