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Re: Disability Type Analysis of WCAG 1.0

From: <Demonpenta2@aol.com>
Date: Fri, 24 Aug 2001 10:42:33 EDT
Message-ID: <ff.b228555.28b7c1d9@aol.com>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
In a message dated 08/24/2001 8:29:49 AM Eastern Daylight Time, kynn@reef.com 

> I hope this is informative and thought-provoking; my goals here are to
> examine how things look and figure out why, and whether or not this is
> something that needs to be considered as we work on future versions of
> VS. DISABILITY FLAMEWARS.  We are all on the same team here, even if we
> represent different types of audiences, so let's not assume any malice
> is at work in the way WCAG 1.0 was written.

Much agreement; Disability vs. disability flamewars are bad. They also let 
the true idiots confirm their impression of us; As whiny sniveling losers. 
That ain't good, cuz the world has an idiot majority.

However, on the point of WCAG and AT being designed mostly for the 
blind/visually imapired...

       This is part history, part convenience. The convenience part is easy. 
In most cases, either the blind use something (often after making 
modifications that have me kicking myself and going "Why didn't I think of 
that?" as I gape at the complexity), or they do not.

       The history part is harder.

             Historically, the blind were some of the earliest to organize to 
advocate for themselves; In part it's because we (the blind and visually 
impaired), at first, usully got pushed aside in favor of serving the deaf, 
those that were physically handicapped, or similar. Why? Because blindness 
was thought to be mostly an old age thing, with those born blind shuffled off 
to boarding schools. So, by 1940 we have the National Federation for the 
Blind among others, and the blind begin to organize to an extreme.

       By 1970, I'd say, the blind had activism down really well. In 
contrast, a lot of tmes, people just regarded those with cognitive or other 
disabilities as freaks, good only for circus performances or similar. (OK, I 
admit: That old short bus/special ed stereotype is one even *I* use now anf 
then. And I *ride* one, so I mostly manipulate people with it. Or, frankly, 
to get people to realize I ain't a freak.)

       This shows even in technical guidelines. Blind kids were shuffled off 
to their own little worlds. Able-bodied kids usually reject em cuz of their 
blindness, so odd hobbies are kind of normal. Like screwing with the phone 
system, most unusually. Twas blind kids that largely cracked Ma Bell back in 
the 60s and 70s, I believe. That kind of "inuititive feel" for technology 
isn't well known, nor normal, but most kids with visual impairments learn to 
fiddle with things early on, cuz it's usually one of our only really possible 
hobbies, in my experience. So there are quite a few blind people in tech 
fields. Techies write the standards.

       Meanwhile, when government sits down about 1990, and tries to make 
itself accessible, who's organized and been waiting for the time when it'd 
happen? The blind. The NFB has all the discipline of a communist party, and 
they can get out the sympathy really well when they need to. Failing that, 
they smack Congressmen with their canes.:-) (j/k) Meanwhile, the deaf and the 
learning-disabled are just being really recognized as anything other than 
mentally retarded. The organization hasn't happened yet in a large scale by 
that point. So there's a lag in their concerns being addressed. That lag 

       Now if someone can get JAWS to quit sounding so inhuman when it 
speaks, and recognize normal net verbiage, I'll be happy.

Received on Friday, 24 August 2001 11:45:25 UTC

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