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RE: Challenge: Defining accessibility

From: Charles F. Munat <chas@munat.com>
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2000 22:27:24 -0700
To: "WAI Interest Group \(E-mail\)" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <000901c03d7b$17cdf820$8e21e7d8@aries>

Dick Brown wrote:
"The glossary for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 provides this

"Content is accessible when it may be used by someone with a disability.

"That's not the comprehensive definition you are seeking, but it's the
bottom line we need to keep in mind."


But is it the bottom line? What exactly constitutes a disability? Is there a
hierarchy of disabilities?

I ask because I think that an *economic* disadvantage (e.g., poverty) is as
much a disability as being unable to see or hear or think clearly.

Consider two people who cannot read. One has a cognitive disability, the
other is a victim of poverty. Is one more important than the other?

I am not suggesting that we dilute the definition of disability. I'm
suggesting that maybe the idea of accessibility ought to cover more than
just accessibility to people with disabilities.

Also, what does "someone with a disability" mean? Does that mean if my
content is accessible to those with physical disabilities but not those with
cognitive disabilities, then it meets the definition?

I'm leaning more toward a definition like this:

Content is accessible when there are no unnecessary barriers to its use. (by
anyone... regardless of disability or hardship)

I think that definitions that single out one group are counterproductive and
divisive. And, I think, they create resentment and even hostility on the
part of those not included. When you say "we're doing this for people with
disabilities" many who do not include themselves in that group will say
"what does that have to do with me?" But when you say "no barriers to
*anyone*," you have no disincluded group.

Charles F. Munat,
Seattle, Washington
Received on Tuesday, 24 October 2000 01:22:22 UTC

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