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From: Nick Kew <nick@webthing.com>
Date: Thu, 2 May 2002 03:21:41 +0100 (BST)
To: Martin Sloan <martin.sloan@orange.net>
cc: Phill Jenkins <pjenkins@us.ibm.com>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <20020502025810.I994-100000@fenris.webthing.com>

On Wed, 1 May 2002, Martin Sloan wrote:

> In relation to this whole 'free/not free' proprietary argument, my
> reading of the legislation is that it only applies to software that a
> disabled person specifically requires to access the site. I.e. not to
> downloads which everyone needs to use the site - there is a
> difference. For instance, everyone needs to download Acrobat to view
> PDF files, but if this was charged for then disabled people as a group
> would be no worse off than those who are not.

Adobe's viewer is proprietary, and Adobe would (presumably) be within
their rights to charge for it.

But the PDF format is published, and AFAIK there are no restrictions
on software supporting it.  Free viewers such as xpdf and gv have
been around for years, and free software is also available to create PDF.

Extending your hypothetical case suggestion seems to raise further issues:

Now, supposing there were additional accessibility features for PDF
that were supported by some viewer, but only in a viewer costing
serious money.  What then?

And how does it affect the situation if the accessibility features present
problems - such as proprietary, unpublished extensions and/or onerous
licencing requirements - in the way of free software supporting them?
This is a very pertinent question in the context of microsoft's
policy of developing proprietary protocols and using lawyers to prevent
third-party products working with them.

> Although that could be interpreted to mean that screen readers should
> be provided free...

As of course they are, though the free products may lack the marketing
budgets of commercial offerings.

Nick Kew

Available for contract work - Programming, Unix, Networking, Markup, etc.
Received on Wednesday, 1 May 2002 22:21:50 UTC

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