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A business must want to be accessible (was: RE: Media - Suit Over Airlines' Web Sites Tests Bounds of ADA)

From: John Foliot - bytown internet <foliot@bytowninternet.com>
Date: Thu, 10 Oct 2002 20:39:02 -0400
To: "W3c-Wai-Ig" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>, "Nissen, Dan E" <Dan.Nissen@UNISYS.com>
Message-ID: <GKEFJJEKDDIMBHJOGLENMEJACMAA.foliot@bytowninternet.com>


Start here:  http://www.w3.org/WAI/bcase/benefits.html

At the end of the day however, I suspect that a business must want to be
accessible, not forced to be.

To my thinking, the ethical position of ensuring my web site is accessible
is also a benefit to my business.  The fact that I work the web (and
consult, especially on accessibility issues) is secondary to that point  - I
think that if I were hawking widgets I would still want to do so on firm
moral ground (although I will conceed that it probably does impact on the
fervour with which I respond to this issue).

Morally, I should treat all customers equally, one because that's how I was
brought up, but also because they may potentially be my next "big" customer.
Legally (*), I cannot discriminate against a person of colour or race
different than my own (including inferior or different services... no
sitting at the back of the bus as it were) - how is then that I can
discriminate against users, who may have the latest and greatest technology
(or not), but who may experience a disability, be it visual impairment,
mobility impairment or cognitive impairment;  especially since there is
little technical reason to not do so.  Building accessible web sites is not
easy, but it's not hard either... it takes way more sophistication to build
a car, or run a factory.  A lack of knowledge and an unwillingness to try
are not acceptable reasons for not doing it, at least not to me, and
probably not to a smart CEO...  And as this list is a testiment to, if you
really need help there are believers out there that are willing to share
free advice and guidance... reducing a potential cost barrier to you and
your organization (**). {I'm not saying we'll do all the work, but if you've
watched this list for any length of time you'll know that there is usually
somebody in the wings to provide a helping hand or point you in the right

But while the disabled community are probably the first beneficiaries of
accessible web development in the short term, in the long term ensuring that
my content is properly developed and employed from the onset reduces future
"re-tooling" costs (**), whether that means applying a whole new style sheet
(effecting a visual transformation to hunderds of documents by changing ONE
DOCUMENT!) or re-purposing symantecly correct HTML mark-up to another
browser platform such as WML, etc. - accessibility is more than just
"..making available to the disabled".  Remember, this technology is in it's
fledgling stages... 10 years ago I bet you didn't even have an email
address; now I bet you're a slave to email <grin>

This thread started off by a note regarding a private industry company being
sued over inaccessible web content.  Whether the litigation is successful or
not is almost secondary... bad publicity and the cost of lawyers to defend
against the charges cost the company money.  Is that how your president
wants to allocate his profits? (*,**)

So, sooner or later, your existing web site will be up for a re-do... every
businesses' assets falls under that master, whether it's purchasing new
computers, or office desks, or re-painting the reception area.  So then the
business case becomes, "Why wouldn't you ensure your site is


[You wanted legal and financial reasoning: (*) = Legal, (**) = Financial]

> -----Original Message-----
> From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org]On
> Behalf Of Nissen, Dan E
> Sent: October 10, 2002 4:19 PM
> To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
> Subject: RE: Media - Suit Over Airlines' Web Sites Tests Bounds of ADA
> I don't know how useful this reply will be as you are making an equity
> argument (there are the poor or disabled and they deserve to be included)
> and I am making either a business (I need to see a positive return on
> investment) or a legal argument(Section 508 is a particular
> clause added to
> the Rehabilitation Act of 1973).  As a human being, I accept your
> argument,
> but I have these needs to force a budget to appear to actually
> retrofit the
> implementations to comply with accessibility, and they need to be
> driven by
> business and/or legal arguments.
> 1. Radio as an advertising medium to model web sites on - Radio
> is a useful
> medium, but most people react better to graphics than radio ads.
> Advertisers pay much more per person for TV ads than radio,
> because they are
> more effective at influencing purchases.  Return on investment will be
> better if the web site has graphics.
> 2. I see no reason to assume that anyone is actively preventing
> access, just
> not actively allowing access.  Do you have any examples of active
> preventing?  It seems that your argument could be used to require
> companies
> to supply computers to anyone who wants access to their web site.  A good
> goal, but unrealistic in this day.
> 3. Section 508 is a particular section of the US Code that requires
> government agencies to purchase accessible E&IT if available for their
> application.  Others can follow but are not legally obligated to do so.
> 4. I assume that advertisers will make the decision as to whether
> to support
> pocket PCs.  I am not such an advertiser.  I agree with another comment on
> this list that said that most sites that support small screens
> will provide
> two interfaces, because the 17-inch monitor user will find the 3-inch
> monitor display to be too small.
> 5. Perhaps I overstated on the living free.  I was referring to people who
> insist that all other people make it possible for them to use Linux and
> other free software because, as they have told me, it is free.
> Most of this is a side discussion to what we should do to make accessible
> web sites easier to build and know that they are accessible to as many
> people as possible.  Has anybody looked at
> http://dynamic.macromedia.com/bin/MM/exchange/extension_detail.jsp
> ?extOid=26
> 6562 and tried to build accessible web sites with DreamWeaver?
> Dan
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Isofarro [mailto:w3evangelism@faqportal.uklinux.net]
> Sent: Thursday, October 10, 2002 2:07 PM
> To: Nissen, Dan E; w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
> Subject: Re: Media - Suit Over Airlines' Web Sites Tests Bounds of ADA
> From: "Nissen, Dan E" <Dan.Nissen@UNISYS.com>
> > 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.
> Image in this context isn't visual, otherwise how does radio advertising
> work?
> >  Who, in today's world, wants an image of plain text?
> So how does this opinion explain advertising on radio? There are many
> non-visual ways of creating an image. A company with an accessible website
> which allows me the same service on my preferred choice of
> user-agent on my
> PC and on my other choice of user-agent on my pocket pc is going
> to get more
> of my business because of its accessibility on my pocket PC.
> > I respectfully disagree that the NYT web site has to be accessible.
> Okay, what are your arguments for actively preventing access to
> information - the information that the user qualifies to receive?
> What kind
> of image does a company portray by saying it provides information, but
> prevents legitimate people from getting that information? Surely that is
> misleading?
> >  Section 508 relates only to the government.
> How did you figure that?
> > 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.
> So you consider schools, libraries, family members third world?
> It is also ironic when computer specs are bandied about, they all
> completely
> miss the obvious fact that it isn't the processing power of a PC thats the
> bottleneck, but the speed of the internet connection.
> > "If I provide, and the disabled spend their disposable income, my share
> > price goes up less than $0.01".
> Ironic to note than inaccessible websites cannot be used reliably
> on pocket
> pcs. People who buy pocket pcs do have quite significant
> disposable incomes.
> Accessibility _gives_ you an avenue to that market.
> >  If this is an advertising medium, then
> > advertisers want 18-49 year olds with incomes over $30,000.
> And users of pocket pcs don't fall into this category?
> > And, no one should be forced to spend money so someone else can live for
> > free.
> Who is living for free?
Received on Thursday, 10 October 2002 20:39:15 UTC

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