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Fw: Re: Web Access; When the Rubber Meets the Road

From: David Poehlman <poehlman1@home.com>
Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2001 08:57:59 -0400
Message-ID: <009601c10b9b$71d05680$2cf60141@mtgmry1.md.home.com>
To: "wai-ig list" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul Chapin" <pdchapin@AMHERST.EDU>
Sent: Friday, July 13, 2001 8:25 AM
Subject: Re: Web Access; When the Rubber Meets the Road

> Seems like you're saying that visual effects are more important than
> the information being communicated, and that you want to have visually
> attractive pages at the expense of those pages being accessible to
> all.
Not quite what I'm saying. Let's ignore the fact that better visual
presentation makes a page nicer to look at for the sighted reader, or
many graphic designers use design to emphasize content, or that sighted
users use visual clues to select and process information on a page
There are practical effects that any graphic designer is well aware.

For example, large blocks of text are inherently unpleasant and
difficult to
read.  Wide blocks are especially difficult.  The simple graphic
solution is
to divide the page into columns so individual lines are of limited
This significantly improves the readability of the text to the sighted
and is why newspapers and magazines have been using columns for decades.
But the accessibility of column text like this is highly problematic
low end software.

I'm fully willing to argue that sighted users may have to give up some
the whiz-bang visuals in order to make pages accessible.  While at this
point this group probably considers me a troglodyte, around here I'm
of as that annoying person who keeps pointing out accessibility
What I am arguing is that we should not make the process of creating
accessible resources any harder than necessary, or require non-disabled
users to give up anything unless it's really necessary. The goal here is
equal access to information by making access easier for the disabled,
not by
making it harder for the non-disabled.

> I also hear you complaining about people who refuse to upgrade their
> software, making accessibility by non graphical and non-java browsers
> necessary.  You seem to be saying that people refuse to upgrade their
> software as opposed to are not able to upgrade their software.
I am saying that.  Remember that this whole thread was based on the
that good software would be made available at little or not cost.  The
logically should be borne by the web sites since, by making it easier to
create accessible pages, they benefit directly from the upgrades.
Practically, it would probably have to come out of either the
universities or the open source movement.

> Paul, people do not upgrade mainly because of the cost factor.  Also,
> it is difficult to learn new software, and people feel comfortable
> with what they have.

I don't consider that a reasonable objection.  Most people feel
creating inaccessible web pages.  Would you are argue that they should
continue to do so? I think it behooves both sides to put some effort

Laura raises some interesting questions. One of the most important,
which I
mentioned in the original post, is whether, given the variety of
disabilities that we are dealing with, it is possible to create a
package or packages that can take web pages involving some of the more
sophisticated features available to designers and make them accessible
all possible users. This is a critical question since even if there is a
software solution that works with most of the disabled, it wouldn't be
acceptable if it resulted in web pages that omitted others. The
principle of
the lowest common denominator still applies; the goal is to raise the
denominator. I don't feel qualified to answer that question. Let's take
JavaScript for an example.  Can anybody come up with a case where a
sufficiently intelligent piece of software would not be able to deal
with a
JavaScript and convert it into something useful?

And a final comment on PDAs and handhelds.  As you may guess, I'm not a
They have some uses, but until the price gets to something below fifty
dollars (and the 800 dollar price was from the article, not me) I'll
with my pocket pad and pen.  The interesting question is whether most
pages are really appropriate for minimal displays.  Ironically, the
impaired are probably in a better position for dealing with PDAs that
sighted since they're use to processing web pages linearly. Personally,
wouldn't go to most web pages if I had to run the output through a PDA
simply because the data flow is too slow.  If I want movie times, it
make sense.  If I'm checking out college web site to see if I want to go
there, no.

Paul Chapin
Curricular Computing Specialist
Amherst College
413 542-2144
Received on Friday, 13 July 2001 08:58:09 UTC

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