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RE: Accessibility Proxy seeks interested ISPs

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 2002 10:04:52 -0400 (EDT)
To: "SHARPE, Ian" <Ian.SHARPE@cambridge.sema.slb.com>
cc: "WAI (E-mail)" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.30.0204191002180.20773-100000@tux.w3.org>
Hmm. I think the approach can work in fixing stuff that people need but can't
use. Another model for the same thing is to use it on the content provider
side - some company has a big website that they need to have accessible, but
there are lots of pieces on it that need fixing. Insterad of buying a new
content management system because the old one can't be made accessible (this
is really the case for some systems I have met) they can use this stuff as a
proxy through which they serve everything, with the repairs incorporated.

As far as the outside world is concerned it is a single accessible site,
although internally it is produced in several pieces. I have actually run
across this model once already.



On Fri, 19 Apr 2002, SHARPE, Ian wrote:

  Don't want to be a party pooper but I personally am a little skeptical
  whether this approach would be of any use. I'm not saying it wouldn't or
  couldn't work but practically I don't feel it would produce satisfactory
  results. Firstly, and this is a political point that |I know others on the
  list feel strongly about, it's not going to help our cause for simply
  providing accessible sites in the first place which is hopefully our
  ultimate goal? I am a little more pragmatic lets say and so if I felt
  something would help in the meantime to resolve existing issues without
  effecting our goal then I would be glad to see it done. However, I don't
  feel this approach is such a thing.

  >From a practical point of view let's consider a flash site. Unless the flash
  contains appropriate information and assuming the recently announced flash
  accessibility techniques could be used appropriately you still wouldn't get
  any sense out. There's many other situations this approach would have
  difficulties but I won't go on.

  The cases where the approach would be useful I believe can be solved using
  existing techniques such as browser configuration, stylesheets etc and
  suspect a greater awareness and availability of these type of client
  solutions would probably be more beneficial.

  As I said, I don't mean to be negative and I would be more than happy to be
  proved wrong!!


  -----Original Message-----
  From: Nick Kew [mailto:nick@webthing.com]
  Sent: 18 April 2002 21:55
  To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
  Subject: Accessibility Proxy seeks interested ISPs

  This is a proposal with a lot of potential for improving web
  accessibility, but it needs support (i.e. willingness to deploy
  it for customers) from ISPs.  I am posting it here in the hope
  that some readers may be able to suggest ISPs likely to be
  interested in the proposal.


  According to RNIB figures, there are 1.7 million visually impaired
  people in the UK.  Various other possibly-relevant disability
  statistics have recently been posted to this list.

  Disabled people will often be at a disadvantage in everyday
  activities such as shopping or going to the library, so in
  principle the Web has proportionally more to offer to them
  than to the fully able-bodied.  Although the disabled are in
  no sense a homogenous group, they should be seen as a natural
  market to providers of Internet-based services.

  Whereas a well-designed website is by definition accessible to
  such people without undue effort or frustration, many thousands
  of websites place wholly unnecessary obstacles in the way of
  disabled users: for example, illegible small text and colour schemes,
  text-as-images, and misuse of frames, scripting, flash, or other
  forms of presentation.

  Pages presenting problems are represented in every sector, from the
  personal homepage through to household-name corporate and government
  sites.  On the one hand, increasing awareness of the issue and the
  law should help improve the situation over time; on the other hand,
  there are a lot of seriously defective authoring and publishing
  tools, and ignorance is notoriously hard to cure.


  As a solution to improving accessibility on the web as a whole,
  an ISP could offer an Accessibility Proxy to users, undertaking
  content repair on-the-fly.  Existing systems such as the Site Valet
  toolkit demonstrate the feasibility of repairing content, and
  mod_xml now provides the necessary technology foundation for
  us to undertake such repairs in real time, even on a heavily-loaded
  server or proxy.  I also anticipate using it to enable a substantial
  expansion to the range of problems we can automatically repair.

  The advantage to users is not only much-improved web accessibility.
  It can also help with the most fundamental problem of many disabled
  users: the cost (real or perceived) of getting online in the first
  place.  The minimum requirement for users of the proposed proxy has
  virtually no cost: "throwaway" secondhand hardware and free software
  will suffice for many users to get online.

  To the ISP, this will enable you to offer a much-enhanced service
  to a substantial group, as well as bring in new users.
  For the first ISP(s) to offer such services, there could also
  be some very positive publicity.

  To take this project forward, I need to make contact with ISPs who
  would be interested in offering such a service, either installed on
  their own networks or operated as a webservice.  Any leads, or
  forwarding of this message, will be much appreciated.

Charles McCathieNevile    http://www.w3.org/People/Charles  phone: +61 409 134 136
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative     http://www.w3.org/WAI  fax: +33 4 92 38 78 22
Location: 21 Mitchell street FOOTSCRAY Vic 3011, Australia
(or W3C INRIA, Route des Lucioles, BP 93, 06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France)
Received on Friday, 19 April 2002 10:04:54 UTC

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