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RE: Simplicity of Authoring and Accessibility Tools

From: Charles F. Munat <chas@munat.com>
Date: Fri, 19 Jan 2001 15:07:51 -0800
To: "'Lakespur Roca'" <lake@netscape.com>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <002201c0826c$a62befb0$0100a8c0@aries>
"Charles it rather sounds like you feel that this is wrong. I don't really
think that you mean that only people who understand should be allowed to use
this medium. Some learning disabilities make it very difficult to comprehend
abstract concepts I don't think they should not be allowed to publish a web
page. Please clarify."


Lakespur:

Yes, as I was reading your post I realized that a distinction I had thought
was clear was not clear at all.

With regard to people posting things to their personal sites, I have nothing
to say. That is a first amendment issue, and my feeling is that an
individual should be able to post ANYTHING (except perhaps libel) in any
format, accessible or not. It's a matter of freedom of expression.

But we were discussing an official government web site (at least that's what
I thought we were discussing) and I used the word "official" in my reply.
Government sites, business sites, educational sites, etc. are public and
intended for use by the public (unless password protected, like a private
club, or, say, an intranet). They should be accessible to members of that
public without regard to disability.

Allowing posting by anyone without any sort of check for accessible code
pretty much guarantees that a great many pages on those sites will exclude
some users because of poor coding. This is the primary issue that the WCAG
(1.0 anyway) is designed to address.

Professors and students alike should have a right to freedom of expression.
I am against ALL censorship of content. But this right of expression is not
a right to exclude others out of laziness, ignorance, or ill-will. The
university or school has an *obligation* to ensure that all pages are
accessible, and professors and students alike will have to get used to this.

I am a student (on leave) at the University of Washington. Each department
has a webmaster responsible for that department's web site. Last year I went
to meet with the CS department's webmaster to discuss accessibility issues.
He voiced numerous frustrations about the professor's reluctance to submit
their pages for review *of code* or to follow coding guidelines. So I am
aware of this problem.

My answer? It is time for professors to check their egos at the door and get
with the program. And this *is* an ego problem, make no mistake about that.
Anyone who has worked or lived in an academic community can tell tales of
the incredible amount of political maneuvering that goes on and the fighting
over perks and prestige. This has nothing to do with freedom of expression.
The situation has degenerated to the point that the whole institution of
tenure is now threatened. That worries me because it *will* become an issue
of academic freedom if tenure is done away with.

As for corporate sites and government sites, the solution is easy: comply or
face termination. Frankly, that's the way it works already. No-one in these
organizations can just post whatever he likes to the official web site. Step
out of line and there will be hell to pay, even for the CEO. Why not extend
this to accessible coding as well? We could turn what is often a negative
situation into one with some positive consequences.

Now, I am talking about CODE, not accessibility as a whole. And here is
another area where there is a lot of confusion on this list. I will start a
new thread with that response.

Charles Munat
Received on Friday, 19 January 2001 18:00:59 GMT

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