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RE: Disability statistics

From: Denise Wood <Denise_Wood@operamail.com>
Date: Sun, 16 Dec 2001 09:49:12 -0500
To: Vadim.Plessky@operamail.com
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <3C2237AD@operamail.com>
>I have to admit that I am working on several Open Source projects, and I do 
(and will do!) my best to decrease power of those companies.
So, I would not advise to students to learn something just to have 
possibility "to be hired by  Macromedia, Adobe, Microsoft, etc."
It amy be that those companies would not exist by the time they finish 
colledge or university ;-))

Hi Vadim

My comments were neither an indication of my support for those companies nor a 
prediction that they will increase their market share over the next x years.

Rather I was commenting on the fact that many major software companies are 
responding to Section 508 compliance requirements by ensuring that their 
products have built in Section 508 auditing tools and checklists. It would be 
naive of any of us to think they were doing that out of a commitment to 
disability issues! Of course not, their motivation is to maintain a 
competitive edge. If US Government only chooses products from companies whose 
products are Section 508 compliant, there is a real incentive for companies 
who want that share of Government investment to ensure their products 
incorporate those features. The trend I see in increasing is not the market 
share of Macromedia, Adobe etc etc but an increase in the number of commercial 
products that incorporate these accessibility standards.

This follows on from yours and Rowan's previous emails about the applicability 
of Section 508 to non-US companies.

Firstly, yes you are right, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is 
an act of the US  government which imposes strict accessibility requirements 
for electronic and information technology be developed, maintained, procured, 
or used by federal agencies. Section 508 also requires that federal agencies 
conduct self-evaluations of their electronic and information technology using 
a compliance package that includes a number of accessibility checklists for 
software, web page, information technology machines (ITM) and information 
technology (IT).

Australia has chosen not to develop enforceable standards such as those 
developed under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The reason for this 
decision is that the Australian Government believes that the Disability 
Discrimination Act of 1992 adequately covers the rights of people with 
disabilities to be able to access information and other material through the 
Web. This requirement applies to any individual or organisation developing a 
World Wide Web page in Australia, or placing or maintaining a Web page on an 
Australian server. As you have seen from previous comments, Canada and the UK 
as well as the US have similar legislation in place.

So technically we are not bound by Section 508 however we are legally obliged 
to ensure our Web sites are accessible. The Section 508 standards are similar 
to W3C guidelines with some exceptions:
- the first nine standards of Section 508 (a) through (i)incorporate the exact 
language recommended by the WAI in relation to WCAG 1.0 guidelines.
- standards (j) and (k) are meant to be consistent with similar provisions in 
the WCAG 1.0 but use language which is more consistent with enforceable 
regulatory language
- standards (l), (m), (n), (o), and (p) are different than any comparable 
provision in the WCAG 1.0 and generally require a higher level of access or 
prescribe a more specific requirement.
-The Section 508 standards do not include the following WCAG 1.0 priority one 
checkpoints 1.3, 4.1, 6.2 or 14.1.

So countries like Australia who have adopted the WCAG 1.0 guidelines as the 
benchmark for accessibility are bound by at least 11 of the Section 508 
Standards in any case. However, the other argument is that if non-US companies 
want to do business in the US they will need to demonstrate compliance with 
Section 508.

Hope that clarifies my initial comments re Macromedia etc and also provides at 
least one view point about the applicability of Section 508 beyond the US.

BTW I also agree with Rowan and Ineke about the democratic duty to build 
accessible Web sites. If only the rest of the world operated on such an 


Dr Denise L Wood
Lecturer: Professional Development (online teaching and learning)
University of South Australia
CE Campus, North Terrace, Adelaide SA 5000
Ph:    (61 8) 8302 2172 / (61 8) 8302 4472 (Tuesdays & Thursdays)
Fax:  (61 8) 8302 2363 / (61 8) 8302 4390
Mob: (0413 648 260)

Email:	Denise.Wood@unisa.edu.au
WWW:	http://www.unisanet.unisa.edu.au/staff/homepage.asp?Name=Denise.Wood
Received on Sunday, 16 December 2001 09:49:43 UTC

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