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Re: Disability statistics

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-edapta@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Sun, 04 Nov 2001 10:02:31 -0800
Message-Id: <>
To: Demonpenta2@aol.com
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
At 09:42 AM 11/4/2001 , Demonpenta2@aol.com wrote:
>        Undoubtedly; But at the same time, most people still have the sense of immortality (when it comes to being or becoming disabled) that society traditionally associates with people my age. "No, it won't happen to me." or "Well, I'm not disabled now; Why should I care?"
>        Any ideas on how to beat that one, Kynn?

In all seriousness -- there's no universal arguments that win out when
it comes to web access for people with disabilities.  If someone is
stubbornly against it, I have no magic mantras you can recite that will
change their minds!

I think for most people it really is an ethical decision, as Joe Clark
stated, and then a legal decision after that.  Numbers and facts and
figures can be used to justify the decision, but in truth we actually
will get farther if we say something like this:

      The web has the potential to be a very enabling mechanism for
      people with disabilities to communicate, to receive services
      and information, and to participate in society as equals with
      everyone else.  We have a choice as to whether we want to help
      web live up to that potential for ALL members of our new
      digital society, or if we want to exclude certain audiences
      simply because we're ignorant.  If you want to learn more, let's
      talk about web accessibility.

All the benefits, all the stats, all the "good arguments" basically
boil down to whether or not people will do the right thing, making a
specific ethical choice to consider people with disabilities as being
as important to the web as people without.  If someone makes the
choice that their users with disabilities are NOT as important as the
users without, then the battle's basically over.

Well, except for laws, which was the second motivating factor Joe
mentioned -- the legal argument.  Because most of the world has very
clearly and definitively proven to be historically opposed to 
caring about the needs of people with disabilities -- and because
that historical precedent continues on the web -- there is quite
often a need for governmental imposition of "the right thing" for
the benefits of the citizenry.  I personally wish it were not so; I'd
be much more comfortable if everyone would willingly do what's right
because it's right -- but I realize on this issue I'm somewhat
hopelessly naive for thinking that would be universally true.

My answer to you, John, is that I have no answer -- if someone simply
won't value all users equally regardless of ability or disability,
then I actually have little I can say to them.


Kynn Bartlett <kynn@reef.com>
Technical Developer Liaison
Reef North America
Accessibility - W3C - Integrator Network
Received on Sunday, 4 November 2001 13:04:21 UTC

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