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RE: Web video accessibility

From: John Foliot <jfoliot@stanford.edu>
Date: Wed, 17 Aug 2011 18:57:48 -0700 (PDT)
To: <accessys@smart.net>
Cc: "'Karen Lewellen'" <klewellen@shellworld.net>, "'EmbedPlus'" <ext@embedplus.com>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <01b401cc5d4a$3fd7c490$bf874db0$@edu>
accessys@smart.net wrote:
> just once, someone will get it.
> access means access.
> seems simple.

There is simple, and then there is simplistic, and they do not mean the
same thing. 

The boundaries and definition of access change as we look at different
content, and the total "web experience" in 2011. Ensuring accessible
access to video content delivered via the web is very important, and
frankly I've been in the thick of *that* with regard to HTML5 for close to
2 years now. We invested significant time researching and documenting
user-requirements for accessing multi-media content that looked at not
only Deaf/HoH user requirements, but also the needs of Blind/Low Vision
users, mobility impaired users, multi-language (cognitive) issues, etc.
All of that however is predicated on the basic understanding that the
user-agent in question offers support to multi-media content in the first
place. The document can be found at:
http://www.w3.org/WAI/PF/media-a11y-reqs/ (Please note that this is an
Editor's Draft - the original working copy can also be seen at

However, what we are currently experiencing in this thread is akin to the

A user wants to cross the lake. They have a bicycle. They then complain
when the bike sinks to the bottom of the lake as they try to cross...
"curses you lake" <shakes fist>. (Totally failing to admit that to cross a
lake, you require a boat, not a bike) The user is angry at the lake, the
lake's owner, the water and everything related to that lake because they
can't ride across it on their bike. "Lakes are unfair, and not inclusive
enough, because I cannot access the other side of the lake on my bike"
says the user.

Later we have a new paddle maker, who thinks (based on feedback he
received) they he might have a paddle that will improve the boating
experience for some 'disadvantaged' users. He comes forward to a group of
experts that represent those disadvantaged users, to ask if he's getting
things right and seeking constructive feedback; instead, that paddle maker
is belittled because the user with the bicycle still cannot cycle across
the lake. He's chastised for assuming that while most people understand
that crossing a lake means using a boat, he does not realize that not
everyone has a boat, or can use a boat. He's criticized for not speaking
"correct" bike-speak, or being aware of the appalling bicycling conditions
in some far off land. I mean, after all, he makes paddles - his paddle is
for boaters, not bikers.

See the problem here?

> maybe I had my expectations raised too high by the PR

Then you did not read the "PR" properly. This is a plugin solution that
works with YouTube. If your system configuration does not support YouTube
now, then the plugin isn't going to magically transform the pig's ear into
a silk purse. If that is your expectations, not only are they too high,
they are completely unrealistic. You can feign innocence here if you want
Bob, but I know better than that; I've known and seen your postings for
years now and you're smarter than that.

> try this, what text based FOSS system with allow one to inpendently find
> and listen to a Utube video, many of them are serious interviews but
> how do you find them.  ORCA will sort of do it but not without serious
> hunting  and moving around blindly (bad pun)

Take that up with Google/YouTube. Don't jump down EmbedPlus' throat over
issues they have no control over. Focus your frustration at the right
party, don't b-slap the first person who comes along. Especially when they
come, open-handed, seeking advice and guidance. That's just plain wrong.

> probably misread the blurb but that was the hope.
> and "conventional browser" could best be defined as "the one I'm using"

In your world, yes. In Tay's world, new to the accessibility space, it
meant a mainstream GIU browser, and anyone reading this on this list, who
has been here for more than a month, knows that already. Don't play naive.
It was a teachable moment totally over-run by snark and anger. And I am
laying *that* at yours and Karen's feet.

> true story "I was in Central America and in the capital city of one of
> country's, I visited the local Independent living center, the only one
> the entire country I think.  sitting in the office was a single Apple
> II and a dial up modem with acustic coupler...!"
> the frustration with the web they expressed was palpable, one of the
> leaders left the room they were so frustrated,   the phone lines were
> so bad that my laptop wouldn't even hold a connection.

The world is cruel and imperfect. Central America is not the same as
downtown Manhattan, Los Angeles or Silicon Valley - we get it. What does
crappy Central American phone lines have to do with this discussion?

How does any of that relate to the fact that a new developer, who has a
tool that he thinks might be of benefit to some people with disabilities,
is so poorly treated on this list that I am truly and personally

What could have been a fantastic opportunity to welcome one more person
into the fold, to teach, to guide and to maybe, just maybe, make
improvements for some (not all) users on the web today, was totally
squandered trying to score a political point so far removed from that
developer's perspective as to totally disenfranchise and discourage that
developer from further participation. I truly hope that is not the case,
but again, if I were Tay and this was my first exposure to "accessibility"
on the web, I would be turning and running so fast it would set speed

> this is the problem that we are often ignoring....

That is a completely different problem Bob. 

EmbedPlus has a tool that might be useful for *some* disabled users to
better access YouTube videos. They might have dyslexia, they may be
cognitively challenged, perhaps they have mobility issues. They might not
be blind, they might not use a screen reader, they might not be a FSF
supporter - perhaps they were given their Mac or PC by family, friends or
church group.  

They are netizens as well however, and likely they use one of the GUI
based browsers in favor today. Instead of helping Tay/EmbedPlus understand
what they should and could be doing so *those* netizens can better take
advantage of and interact with the web, you make the blind kid in
Nicaragua the poster child of everything that is wrong on the web today,
and in the process chase off a potential ally to our cause. Bravo to you. 

> I will not forget their faces and the desire to connect. and for many
> of them lynx is the advanced browser.

Stats Please. Saying so doesn't make it so, back that up with 3rd party

And even if it were true, there are statistically and numerically more
disabled users out there that are using a GUI browser who would still
stand to benefit by a tool that makes YouTube videos more user-friendly
and accessible - a point your are conveniently disregarding as you try to
defend your current response to EmbedPlus.  I called you on your initial
response to EmbedPlus, and you're turning this into a geo-political rant
to justify your response. I don't buy it.

> and we are not trying to build for the average user but for the basic
> barely on the net user.   I have no problems with the latest and
> but everyone writes for the latest and greatest and very few current
> users can actually use that.

I have never seen those statistics, and welcome them here publicly. 

My experience with a wide variety of users with disabilities (and not just
blind users BTW) is that they are using relatively up-to-date equipment,
and software. There is an implied social contract that to fully
participate on the modern web you must meet the developers half-way. If
you want to access YouTube videos, you need a browser that supports at
minimum the Flash plugin. That's not 'discrimination' against users with
disabilities, that's a condition for ALL users wanting to access YouTube
content, disabled or otherwise.

Irrespective of that, if a tool comes along that makes improvements for
some users, then I say take the win as it comes. Work with the developer,
provide encouragement and productive feedback. Build on *that* success, no
matter how modest it may be.

That's not what happened, and bringing up "true stories" of how the
telephone system in some Central American country couldn't support
maintaining a dial-up connection has nothing to do with how EmbedPlus was
treated here. It's just posturing and politicking.

Don't get me wrong, ensuring that the global community has access to the
internet is an important and laudable goal - I'm not criticizing that. But
that's not what this thread is about, it's about how we, as "accessibility
experts" treat newcomers to our cause.  You haven't addressed that,
instead you've tried to turn it into a discussion of the disparity between
first and third-world countries.

> our charge if I understand it clearly is to help make sure no one is
> excluded from the Web...  

Correct, but that is not a binary proposition. There is no magic bullet
that is going to instantly make everything on the web 100% accessible to
all users irrespective of their individual needs. 

I've said it before, and I will repeat it again: EmbedPlus has the
potential to make accessing YouTube's videos more 'accessible' to some,
likely many, users. We should encourage that, because in the grand scheme
of things that is yet another plank in the "coverage" of accessibility
support. It's not one single Grand Act that is going to make things
better, it's the millions of smaller acts that will get us there.

> CSS and graceful degrading seems to be a lost art.... (at least FSF has
> got it and keeps their website accessible, so far)

How does this relate to your treatment of EmbedPlus?

> please let us not forget the core mission.   the web is not accessible
> until everyone can use it.  and I define "everyone" as everyone.

To which I can only respond - how are we ever going to get there, when as
witnessed here, every time a new developer seeks to learn "we" belittle
him and chastise him and essentially chase him away for not already
"getting it"?  I mean, what is your plan to get there Bob, piss-off
everyone into submission? 

Received on Thursday, 18 August 2011 01:58:27 UTC

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