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

From: RUST Randal <RRust@COVANSYS.com>
Date: Tue, 8 Oct 2002 08:15:32 -0400
Message-ID: <1A729C6059E7CD4CA1DFE3985E600421142E3A@fth-ex02.CVNS.corp.covansys.com>
To: "'Nissen, Dan E'" <Dan.Nissen@UNISYS.com>, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

> I am trying to see the differences that make it a requirement 
> to make a "accessible" website for an airline and does not 
> require the New York Times to provide a newspaper for those 
> same people.

The accessibility laws are about access to information, not the format that
that the information is provided in.  So if I go to the Southwest Web site,
and I'm blind, and can't find the information I need because they haven't
used ALT attributes properly, then I should be able to pick up the phone and
call them.  Upon doing so, I should be able to get the same discounts, etc.,
that I am unable to get via their inaccessible Web site.

If I want the NY Times to provide an article in an accessible format, I
could simply call them and have someone read the article to me over the
phone.

> Another point not addressed in this message stream seems to 
> be the accommodation part of the ADA.  You aren't required to 
> provide exactly the same solution for the disabled as for the 
> non-disabled. 

Right.

> Perhaps only the telephone service from the airlines is required.

Perhaps.  But if I went to the Web site so that I could get a discounted
fare, then I should still be able to receive that discount if I have to
place a phone call because their site is inaccessible.

> The reason that you see so little attention to the disabled 
> by business is that the market is miniscule and most of the 
> disabled do not have the income to buy most of the goods and 
> services of the society.  A startlingly large percentage of 
> blind people do not have jobs.

Oftentimes when trying to promote accessibility, I think that it is best to
eliminate the disabled user from the equation, and to focus on the user with
the alternate browser.  When you're talking about marketing and profit
generation, management tends to see those using a cell phone to access the
Web in a more positive light.  While this is highly discriminatory, it is
simply the facts of life.

> In any case, and more pertinent to this forum, I am very 
> concerned with the tone that implies it is trivial to provide 
> a fully accessible web site.

It is very easy to provide a fully accessible Web site.  My approach is
simple.  I create my pages and view them in the Lynx Viewer
(http://www.delorie.com/web/lynxview.html).  If I am able to read my page
and it makes logical sense, then I can be pretty safe in knowing that my
site will work for most users, if not all.  And if I might still have some
questions, I simply post the pages and have people on this list take a look
at them.  The members have been more than helpful in regard to this, and are
always willing to give feedback.  

> Do I use a LABEL or a TITLE?  
> Must I test with 25 or 150 different versions of browsers?  
> How many client operating systems must I support and test 
> browsers on?  Which screen readers, etc. must I try my site 
> on?  It is clear that if you don't test it, it probably 
> doesn't work.  And, bugs in all the software are appearing 
> regularly, requiring workarounds, because this forum does not 
> seem to believe that users should have to upgrade their 
> browsers. I think this is a difficult area to get right.  I 
> think we need to define a standard and allow people to 
> require usage of browsers that follow some standard when 
> talking about accessibility.

This is why you should mark up your pages according to the W3C
specifications, not to a particular browser or AT.  It's simply not feasible
to know how all of the ATs and browsers work.

> When I deal with the decision makers in my company and say we 
> need to follow Section 508, they ask for the details. 

What's not to understand about having to set the ALT attribute for images?
Essentially, if you follow the HTML or XHTML Recommendations as they are set
out, you will probably achieve most, if not all, of the 508 1194.22
Requirements.  
 
> Exactly when do we have to follow it, and what do we do to 
> assure ourselves that we have followed it?  It appears we 
> don't have definitive answers, really.  What is the economic 
> impact of not following it?  What will it cost to follow it?  
> I am definitely having problems answering those questions, 
> and I am sure others are also.  In my case, it has resulted 
> in a lower priority for accessibility, because it is such a 
> vague requirement.

In my opinion, you're making this much more difficult than it needs to be.
Providing accessibility is a healthy by-product of coding to the W3C
recommendations.  Look there first, then move on and look at accessibility
guidelines and make sure that you're achieving all of the guidelines.

Randal
Received on Tuesday, 8 October 2002 08:16:08 GMT

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