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RE: Accessibility, discrimination, and WCAG 2.0

From: Charles F. Munat <chas@munat.com>
Date: Sun, 22 Oct 2000 13:12:40 -0700
To: "WAI Interest Group \(E-mail\)" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <002701c03c64$6e7e21d0$b021e7d8@aries>
Here is a related question: what about mailing lists like this one?

Most mailing lists require (or at least suggest) the use of plain text.
There are sound reasons for this wrt accessibility. But to make these posts
more understandable, wouldn't HTML email be better? Then we could include
graphics, add color, use different fonts (perhaps even embedding them). Or
why not use a format such as PDF?

But this brings up many more questions. If I post to an email list, should I
have to come up with graphics to accompany my post? What if I can't draw?
What if I can't see? And doesn't this further complicate the task? Would
that tend to exclude some people who couldn't figure out how to work the

The issues discussed on this list are important, and no-one should be
excluded from the discussion (*especially* those with disabilities). But how
does a person who can't read participate in this list? And what about the
level of knowledge required to participate? For most lists, you're expected
to read the archives before posting to avoid repeating topics. And you're
expected to have familiarity with the lingo. Should our posts explain what
WCAG stands for every time we mention it? Should we be defining the meaning
of each topic in the context? Should we be using headings, etc. in every

Then there's the time aspect. Writing well requires rewriting, proofreading,
etc. If each email turns into a mini web page, the time required to produce
one goes up dramatically. Wouldn't this tend to quell discussion on this
list and exclude those with limited time?

The more I think about the implications of making everything understandable
to everyone, the more complicated it gets. Start thinking about language
barriers on an international list such as this one and it gets even more

Where do we draw the line? What is accessible/understandable enough? If
there is a conflict between making a page/post more accessible and making it
more understandable, which way do we go?

Charles Munat,
Seattle, Washington
Received on Sunday, 22 October 2000 16:07:39 UTC

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