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when a suit is in the rong?

From: David Poehlman <poehlman1@comcast.net>
Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2003 09:42:25 -0500
To: wai-ig list <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-id: <00db01c2f214$4f2fde00$6501a8c0@handsontech>

In today's letigeous society, it is sad that it is possible even though all
that can be done has been done that an entity can still be sued for lack of
accessibility or in any case, compliance with someone's idea of
accessibility even though the site is accessible.

I would hope that compliat companies and entities out there who are
producing and maintaining web sites are keenly aware that they need not be
coerced into meeting someone's idea of accessibility if their site reflects
the best of all possible worlds in this regard.

I mention this because There is a growing sense that a tool alone is the
measure of accessibility and defense of that tool by its producers or
proponents is growing and because it is education that is important to the
process and not the tool we use.  I know of two instances where the tool is
the rule and the tool fails to measure up.  The tool can also be an entity
using or producing or backing a tool.

Being sued in the United states is not pleasant, but even more unpleasant is
being sued even though you have followed someone's guidance in providing a
site that is "accessible".  To this end, we all need to work hard to educate
the community towards accessibility which is not defined by the use of a
particular tool but that is defined by good practices in site design and
development.  The W3C WWAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines v1.0 though
having its ambiguities and pitfalls and being open in some cases to
interpretation has stood many in good stead in achieving the goals implicit
in best practice development.  The techniques that accompany it and the
expertise that has grown up around it has been fenoninal but can be
undermined quite easily and soon if the notion that a tool is the end is
allowed to flourish and prevail.  Tools have their place but in the rong
hands as we have seen, they can also become weapons of distruction.

If someone asks you to enter into an agreement with them concerning making
your site "accessible", make it clear that what you are buying is at least
conformance with the p1 and p2 guidelines of the WCAG.  In the case of
course of the us government, make sure that you are getting a site that
complies with section 508.  The same goes for reviews.  If someone reviews
your site and tells you that it does not meet their specifications but they
can help you meet those specifications, ask them instead to provide you with
a site review based on either 508 if you are an us federal government entity
or WCAG v1.0 p1 and p2.

If you have been told that your site meets some notion of accessibility,
find a way to have it looked at for p1 and p2 checkpoints or 508 even a spot
check will do because if it fails, you are leaving someone out.

For an easy test, go to:
http://www.contentquality.com

David Poehlman
Reducing Technology's Disabilities
Received on Monday, 24 March 2003 09:50:39 GMT

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