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Re: Are Accessibility Standards Impeding Progress on the Web?

From: Martin McCormick <martin@dc.cis.okstate.edu>
Date: Wed, 28 Aug 2002 10:04:16 -0500
Message-Id: <200208281504.g7SF4Gw26354@dc.cis.okstate.edu>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

	Accessibility standards are a still small voice of reason
crying out in a din of chaos.

	One thing about people who are blind who use computers is
that it sometimes takes a little more effort to get an access
system going which is convenient and comfortable to use.
Therefore, we tend to hang on to that which works and want to
improve it rather than throw it out each time something new comes
along.
all of my job, for example, involves UNIX systems and the usual
tools we use when feeding and caring for UNIX systems, I want my
screen reader to intercept the data that are also going to a
terminal.  Lynx fits nicely in to this model and every other
command-line application I can think of also fits right in.

	What we have is a lot of simple and, yes, primitive
building blocks that can be strung together sometimes at a
moments notice that do a good job of turning ASCII data in to
speech.  This makes us reluctant to make major infra structural
changes because while we may want to add new capabilities, we
sure don't want to give up what has always worked before.  I
want my web browser to be another application I call while
sitting at my UNIX terminal and not some extra box sitting on the
table running a totally different operating system and browser
that can only be used from that physical location.

	Yes, there are other reasons for wanting to use lynx
besides economical or even sentimental reasons.

	I happen to know that even the use of JAWS and Internet
Explorer is no guarantee that any given javascript site will work
with a screen reader.  What we've got is a perpetually
moving series of targets that will always be just out of reach
under the present model.

	Every week, I hear of some new kind of script, plug-in,
or flash application that will probably do absolutely nothing
because the version of screen reader, etc, doesn't know how to
handle it so it is the old lynx javascript bugaboo all over
again except you pay a lot more cash to fight with private
vendors.

	Something is just wrong with this picture and I am sorry
but it is difficult to put it in words.  Any information
technology that is based upon hoping that everybody will
"upgrade" whatever the heck that really means, is doomed to
failure.  chaotic communications technology just doesn't work very well.

Martin McCormick WB5AGZ  Stillwater, OK 
OSU Center for Computing and Information Services Network Operations Group

David Woolley writes:
>And these sorts of aids are most likely to be paid for by an employer.
>Blind users with limited means (and the two tend to correlate) still
>quite often use Lynx to access the web.  (Others on limited means may
>have to rely on machines that operate a no scripting policy for security
>reasons, because they cannot afford a home connection.)
>
>I don't know the proportion of blind Lynx to blind commercial AT users,
>but they are certainly still around.  I suspect there may be rather more
>blind people who believe that the web is only useable by sighted people.
>
>PS I think that "progress" has often to be considered a "new speak" word.
>Advertisers have to make people associate change with progress, otherwise
>people might just keep using the perfectly good solutions that they already
>have.  I would actually argue that the initial, tru, progress of the web was t
>he
>result of deliberately dumbing down the technology, compared with contemporary
>versions of PDF, and word processors, etc. (this was an explicit design aim
>for T B-L).
>
Received on Wednesday, 28 August 2002 11:04:18 GMT

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