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Re: Frames and accessibility: opinions please

From: Martin McCormick <martin@dc.cis.okstate.edu>
Date: Tue, 30 Apr 2002 16:38:26 -0500
Message-Id: <200204302138.g3ULcQl71153@dc.cis.okstate.edu>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
	I see a strong parallel here to something that probably
seems totally unrelated.  I will keep it short.

	The Federal Communications Commission regulates broadcast
technology in the United States because there is a finite number
of channels.  The idea is to support technology that will be the
most useful to the entire population.

	When advances have come along such as color in television
and stereophonic sound in both radio and television, the FCC
actually let private industry develop the new signal standards
and said that there were only two conditions.  The new audio and
video signals had to produce proper sound and picture on older
monochrome sets so that everybody's existing set didn't become
rubbish overnight.  They also said that after the engineering
test period, whichever standard produced the best signal quality
would become the standard for radio/TV broadcasting in the United
States for the foreseeable future.

	The purests grumbled but that model has worked all over
the world.  In most countries, color television is
monochrome compatible and FM stereo sound broadcasts produce a
perfectly good mono signal on sets that don't receive stereo.

	If you consider the technology of the time period when
color was added to television, about 1950-51 or so, it was a
technological miracle that engineers could make it happen and
mass-produce that technology.

	The difference between broadcasting and web accessibility
issues seems total, but the parallel is that we are trying to
provide information to hopefully all comers.  There is no FCC for
computing because we are not dealing with the sort of mutual
exclusivity that is the nature of radio broadcasting.

	To this day, people can buy inexpensive monochrome
televisions and use them effectively.  They represent the
simplest and cheapest way to receive TV signals.

	Text-only browsers like lynx and relatives represent a
known-workable solution to access as well as a light-weight load
on either older, slower, or otherwise minimalist equipment.

	Truly good technology is flexible enough to continue to
work in a variety of situations.

	Is what we have now acceptable with all of its high-end
requirements?  I think not.

	We can have all the high-end capabilities one can imagine
and still easily support a great deal of legacy technology.  One
simply has to decide that this is an important principle and that
resolve has been absent as far as I can tell.

	Modems and other telecommunications devices usually
negotiate until both agree on a protocol that works.  Why can't
web server software do this automatically?

Martin McCormick
Received on Tuesday, 30 April 2002 17:38:27 UTC

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