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RE: Media - Suit Over Airlines' Web Sites Tests Bounds of ADA

From: Phill Jenkins <pjenkins@us.ibm.com>
Date: Mon, 7 Oct 2002 17:50:01 -0500
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <OF81E4996E.5178F686-ON86256C4B.007892E8@pok.ibm.com>

>Accessibility means available to all users, regardless
>of the technology they may be using.

I respectively disagree.

>Bloated Flash intensive sites with
>locked down fonts, grey text on black backgrounds, "mission critical"
>functions which rely on JavaScript, and all the other hooey we see every
>is inaccessible to large portions of the population, not just those with
>visible handicaps. It's seniors, children, users who's first language is
>the mother tongue of the web site, it's people in rural areas with poor
>dial-up connections or under funded schools and libraries with pre-1995
>technolgies (Wow! a 486 with a 14" monitor and a 14.4 baud modem!)  These
>people deserve to have access to the internet and it's content as well.

I agree that everyone deserves to have access to the internet and it's
content.  But where the burden lies is the devil in the details.

Is it the author's responsibility to code the site so it can work with an
old 486 machine and 14.4 modem or is it the communities responsibility to
fund the community centers and schools with better technology?  Doesn't
everyone really deserve access to the functionality rich sites that rely on
JavaScript? I would much rather ask the author to make the JavaScript
directly accessible than to ask him/her to code another noscript site.   I
would much rather ask the handfuls of Assistive Technology vendors to
better support JavaScript than to ask all the millions of web developers to
code additional redundant noscript web sites.

Is it the author's responsibility to code the site without Flash or is it
his/her responsibility to code the Flash following the Macromedia
guidelines so it can be directly accessible?  Isn't NOT allowing Flash a
lot like saying it's the author's responsibility NOT to use the W3C HTML
coding tags but only provide a text document of the information because the
individual may not have access to a computer to access the internet?

Technology available to the users *is* part of the consideration of the
technical accessibility standards.  The angle of the ramp to a physical
building was determined when considering the wheel chair technology
available.  But, the regulations did NOT place the burden on the building
owner to provide the wheel chair, only to make the ramp accessible to the
wheel chair by following width and angle requirements in the technical
standard.  Can every wheel chair make it up the ramp?  Well, that depends
on the wheel chair power and battery if it's motorized and/or the users
strength if it is manual.

Is every web site accessible to the user's assistive technology (AT)?
Well, that depends on the AT's capability, the platform, etc. in other
words, the technology.  Because everyone deserve access to the content does
not give us the right to demand that every web site author re-code their
site to account for older 486 machines.  Also, because everyone deserves
access to the content does not give us the right to say that only W3C
formats are allowed on the internet, but it does give us the right to ask
for formats to have the ability to be compatible with supporting assistive
technologies - that's what this list is about - those interested in
technical web accessibility standards.

Now, back to the issue of the airline sites.  What are the technical
barriers that prevent today's AT's from working? Is there anything missing
from the technical standards (508, WCAG, UAAG, etc.) that could be added?
I think it would be more productive on this list to discuss these questions
than the disability rights and digital divide type issues, not that they
are not important, but should be discussed on other lists.

Phill Jenkins

[these are my personal opinions and not necessarily those of my employer
IBM, the W3C who hosts this list, my political party, the state I live in,
nor the High School I attended] <smile>
Received on Monday, 7 October 2002 18:50:35 UTC

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