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RE: Challenge: Defining accessibility

From: Dick Brown <dickb@microsoft.com>
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2000 22:55:09 -0700
Message-ID: <7D6F5C23B8944046BC8D1DDED0ED15E00237107F@red-pt-02.redmond.corp.microsoft.com>
To: "Charles F. Munat" <chas@munat.com>, "WAI Interest Group (E-mail)" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Charles F. Munat wrote:
 
>>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) 

The issue of including economic disadvantage as part of accessibility has
been raised often in WAI circles and beyond -- in fact, there's a whole
industry of conferences, etc. around the concept of the "digital divide."

I think we ought to keep our focus on our core mission -- making the Web and
Web tools usable by people with physical and mental disabilities. That task
is tough enough -- can you imagine drafting guidelines for how to make the
Web accessible to the economically disadvantaged?

(Charles and I have our own little Pacific time zone list going here in the
Seattle area.)

Dick Brown
Microsoft Corp.

-----Original Message----- 
From: Charles F. Munat 
Sent: Mon 10/23/2000 10:27 PM 
To: WAI Interest Group (E-mail) 
Cc: 
Subject: RE: Challenge: Defining accessibility




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

"Accessible 
"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." 

Reply: 

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 


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end
Received on Tuesday, 24 October 2000 01:56:25 GMT

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