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

From: Nissen, Dan E <Dan.Nissen@UNISYS.com>
Date: Tue, 8 Oct 2002 07:33:58 -0500
Message-ID: <FC86023944FB1F48943B3B1CED11E0FC8217CC@USRV-EXCH2.na.uis.unisys.com>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

Thanks for the response.  I do want comments, and want to form a discussion
of the issues of the vagueness of the requirements, and the inability of the
providers and users to get together.

Most web sites are not aimed at service, but at advertising.  I think that
is a problem, but it is the fact.  And, advertising is all image.  Who, in
today's world, wants an image of plain text?  Most people watch television,
where the ads are better quality than the programming, and use all kinds of
eye-candy.  While that doesn't help the blind or vision impaired, it is
fact.  So, we need to define a web world that works for that as well as the
disabled who want service.  We have allowed TV to be almost entirely
unusable for the disabled, even with close captioning.  I run CNN with
captioning to see what I can see, and I don't get all the material in the
captions.  We need to be able to use markup to break out text and graphics,
and provide alternates.  We have the technical ability to do this, but we
are being dragged down by confusion, lack of tools, etc.

I respectfully disagree that the NYT web site has to be accessible.  Section
508 relates only to the government.  Perhaps ADA 
will bring in people who are providing accommodations, but not all web
sites.  And, the Radio Reading Service, unless I am way off, is not a
service of the New York Times.  There seem to be several found by Google,
and they are all nonprofit agencies. Perhaps the non-governmental agencies
that have provided alternative forms of books for years need to get into the
web and provide alternative forms of the service web sites that they would

I do not think it is useful to assume that because the third world and poor
can only get 486 computers the rest of the world needs to be constrained to
what that kind of computer can do.  The browser wars are over for this
round, and Internet Explorer, on Windows 95 or later, won.  Comparatively,
almost no one uses Lynx - I'll bet it is less than 1%.  And, I don't work
for Gates, but I do make my living building proprietary software, and I
don't think I'm being immoral.

The point I was trying to make about the unemployment among the disabled had
less to do with "We don't provide, you don't use", than it had to do with
"If I provide, and the disabled spend their disposable income, my share
price goes up less than $0.01".  If this is an advertising medium, then
advertisers want 18-49 year olds with incomes over $30,000.  The television
analogy is pertinent here as well.

Northwest Airlines announced today that they will now make their "Web-only"
fares available to travel agents.  I wonder if that had anything to do with
the lawsuit.

You mention "And how does that [telephone] help someone who is also speech
impaired?"  The issue of multiple disabilities is significant, and not well
addressed.  I don't think Helen Keller would be able to do very well in many
"accessible" web sites or accommodations, as they don't address the pair of
disabilities well.  The speech impaired would be helped by the telephone by
using the relay service.

You said the web has gotten less accessible since the beginning.  Yes, that
is true.  It has expanded tremendously and it did it by taking the
advertising budget and using it on the web.  It largely did not do it by
taking a service budget and using it on the web.  Back to the question "Who
wants an image of plain text in a world of multimedia graphics, sound and
animation?"  In my non-legal opinion, there is no "Right to get my

And, no one should be forced to spend money so someone else can live for
free.  I think the lack of employment by the disabled is much more important
than their access to an advertising medium.


Note: personal opinions not reviewed or approved by my employer.

-----Original Message-----
From: Access Systems [mailto:accessys@smart.net]
Sent: Monday, October 07, 2002 6:49 PM
To: Nissen, Dan E
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Subject: RE: Media - Suit Over Airlines' Web Sites Tests Bounds of ADA

On Mon, 7 Oct 2002, Nissen, Dan E wrote:

> 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
> to provide a newspaper for those same people.

no but the NYT web site has to be accessible

don't know about the NYT but where I live (major city south of New York)
the Radio Reading service daily reads every word of the local newspaper to
the subscribers (free) including ads' and the funnies before 12noon every
day of the week.

> 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
> to buy most of the goods and services of the society.  A startlingly large
> percentage of blind people do not have jobs.  This fact is why many
> retailers focus on other groups.  And, the lack of accommodation may be a
> cause of the unemployment.  This makes it harsh to say you don't have to
> accommodate.

catch 22, we don't provide because you don't use, you don't use because we
don't provide 

yeah that sounds about right

> 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.  For instance, the

equivalent facilitation

> company can provide someone to type in the data for the disabled where
> allow their non-disabled to write in a form.

not always legal, depends on how confidential the data is.

>  Only one stall in a bathroom
> needs to be accessible, not all.

right the one that everyone else uses first

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

ONLY if it were truely equivalent in every way...24/7 service, same sales,
same search service etc.   and then how does that help someone who is also
speech impaired??

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

actually it is trivial, it is when folks add all the eye candy and fluff
that it becomes inaccessible,  I have been on the internet for over 20
years and it was far more accessible years ago, because everything was
just plain text.   (a fast modem was 2,400 baud)

> do not believe this to be the case, after watching this forum for a number
> of months and seeing many discussions terminate without a clear answer as
> how to assure that your website does what all people answering here ask

because folks like to be fancy and show off thier "skill" and making it
pretty without enhancing the content.  

> to do.  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
> test browsers on?  Which screen readers, etc. must I try my site on?  It

there are one or two basic systems that are "lowest common
denominator" that you can test with.....if it works in Lynx you can be
pretty sure it will work with most adaptive gear

> clear that if you don't test it, it probably doesn't work.  And, bugs in
> the software are appearing regularly, requiring workarounds, because this
> forum does not seem to believe that users should have to upgrade their

how do you "Force" someone to spend money when they don't have it???  and
as said before what about the "rest" of the world. it is the WORLD WIDE
web... I work with folks in Nicaragua that consider themselves lucky to
get thier old original mac to work and they pay for phone connection by
the minute...you can't force them to spend a months salary on some eye

> browsers. I think this is a difficult area to get right.  I think we need
> define a standard and allow people to require usage of browsers that
> some standard when talking about accessibility.  I'm not sure the standard

I thougt the "minimum level of service" was Lynx or similar

> is yet done, but it appears a lot closer than the browsers that follow it.
> And, many people want to use the free OS and the free browser that is not
> compatible with the standard, it seems.

??? you work for gates or something??

> When I deal with the decision makers in my company and say we need to
> Section 508, they ask for the details.  Exactly when do we have to follow
> it, and what do we do to assure ourselves that we have followed it?  It

sure you do.  read the reccomended practices

> 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

the cost of defending the law suit will be far higher than the cost of

> 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.

it is not vague it just doesn't fit your desires or what you think should
be the "standard"  

> Comments solicited.

you asked

> Regards,
> Dan
> -----Original Message-----
> From: RUST Randal [mailto:RRust@COVANSYS.com]
> Sent: Monday, October 07, 2002 9:47 AM
> To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
> Subject: RE: Media - Suit Over Airlines' Web Sites Tests Bounds of ADA
> > Shanx:
> > Wonder why no one has ever sued NYT or IHT for the small 
> > print in their newspapers. Suddenly, the Internet and all the 
> > Bobby and accessibility jazz that is bandied about so 
> > liberally has encouraged every Joe with a handicap and his 
> > dog to scrounge for some sympathy. But suing is ridiculous. 
> > Perhaps an education in customized CSS or VIEW --> TEXT SIDE 
> > is in order. 
> > Harry Woodrow:
> > Yes but Discrimination is even more ridiculous.
> > Andrew McFarland:
> > There is an important difference between print and the web.
> Harry and Andrew are both on the mark.  Web and print are different,
> similar mediums.  And accessibility isn't /bandied about/ in the U.S. as
> much as some of us would like.  In fact, if you go beyond Web design
> and outside of the public sector, no one really seems to care if their Web
> site is accessible.  I wish that this were not the case, but it seems just
> so.
> Randal

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Received on Tuesday, 8 October 2002 08:34:09 UTC

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