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RE: A table navigation technique

From: Bryan Campbell <bryany@pathcom.com>
Date: Tue, 17 Nov 1998 19:47:34 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ua@w3.org
05:47 PM 16-11-98 -0800, "Charles (Chuck) Oppermann" <chuckop@microsoft.com>
>Scott, has any other browser stepped up to do this? Will Netscape and Opera
>do this? For that matter, do either of those browsers expose the structure
>of the table in both a accessibility-generic and HTML-specific fashion?

>I think Microsoft has done plenty to make tables and the HTML content
>accessible. We're not in the business of providing Nth degree of rendering
>options for structure mark up.

As a keen observer of the PC industry I'll confidently say whatever one
developer does is usually quickly followed by others in the same field. Well
except for IE not copying Opera's extensive one keystroke keyboard controls
which will hopefully soon change [& perhaps in Communicator, too]. &
Microsoft is building on software Accessibility which began in 1988 when
TRACE asked Windows 2 be more usable for people with disabilities, though
'Mouse keys' could use more power. Microsoft has huge success which brings
with it equal responsibility so it is reasonable to expect it to do great
deeds. With a projected 56 million assured installs of IE when PC builders
put Win 98 [noted at the next URL] on the systems they sell Microsoft has
the resources do much

Great leadership is needed because great misunderstandings abound as seen in
the following column that energized the WAI Interest Group today; it is
followed by a reasoned 'Letter to the Editor'. My hope is that Microsoft
will act decisively in a field with only intangible rewards.

From: Jamal Mazrui <empower@smart.net>
Date: Tue, 17 Nov 1998 09:14:57 +0400
Subject: Washington Post editoral:  Claims Against Common Sense
Resent-From: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

>From the web page 

Claims Against Common Sense By William Raspberry. Monday, November 16, 1998;
Page A25

If I promise to go back to being my old sweet self tomorrow,
would you let me get a little meanness off my chest today?


Randy Tamez: Get a grip.

Tamez, left blind by treatment for a brain tumor a dozen years
ago, has sued the Bay Area's Metropolitan Transportation
Commission for violating his rights. The basis, according to the
Associated Press: He can't access the system's Web site for bus
and train schedules. That, in his view, is a violation of the
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

It is, in my view, a clear violation of common sense.

Of course I sympathize with Tamez's difficulties. Who wouldn't
sympathize with a 36-year-old guy suddenly rendered unable to
see anything beyond shapes, shadows and light? Blindness must be
a terrible handicap, and I would applaud any genius who comes up
with a device to make it less burdensome.

But someone already has come up with something that works quite
well for most of us: Web sites with lots of graphics, sound,
video clips and such that make it possible to provide useful
information in user-friendly ways (and also to facilitate the
advertising that makes many Web sites worth providing in the
first place). Apparently a return to a text-based system would
make it easier for the visually impaired, though arguably less
attractive for the rest of us. Is that a violation?

I hope you don't think I'm just being nasty to Tamez. I've been
waiting nearly a year for a chance to be nasty to the disabled
folk who complained about Rick Fink's nice-guy gesture. Fink,
divisional maintenance manager for the 97 Wendy's restaurants in
Kentucky, West Virginia and North Carolina, decided that while
the company was undertaking renovations to make the bathrooms
and other facilities more accessible to wheelchair users, he'd
go an accommodating step farther. He positioned two regular
tables near the door and marked them with the stylized
wheelchair symbol.

You know what? Some representatives of disabled groups accused
Fink of establishing a "disabled ghetto." "We want the
opportunity to be there without the stigma or labeling," one of
them said. Are those choice near-the-door parking spaces a
"disabled ghetto" as well? Get a grip.

Look, I think the ADA is a terrific idea. The wider doors,
ramped entrances and roomy, handrailed toilet stalls must be a
godsend for those who need them -- with no skin off the noses of
those who don't. Similarly with wheelchair-accessible curbs and
other modifications -- particularly in cases of new construction.

I still remember a column by Charles Krauthammer praising the
subtle ramping at Washington's Kennedy Center -- an
architectural boon for wheelchair users and utterly unnoticed by

What sparks my meanness is the insistence by some among the
disabled that (1) their disability be accommodated and (2) that
we take no notice of it. I mean, for instance, the people who
insist on putting chair-lift devices on all public buses -- even
when relatively few wheelchair users are among the riders and
even though it can be significantly cheaper for local
governments to furnish door-to-door transport by taxicab or limo
than to retrofit all the buses.

I mean the deaf guy who wanted to discuss some controversy with
a colleague of mine, using one of those phone devices that
involve speaking to an intermediary who then teletypes the
message to the caller's phone screen, and then waits for a typed
response that he reads to the callee. It can take awhile. My
time-pressed colleague finally offered a deal: Put your comments
in a letter, and I'll respond in detail by return mail.

The guy was furious. He didn't have time to write letters, he
said, clearly resenting the fact that other readers who wanted
to talk to columnists didn't have to write letters.

Get a grip.

A part of my problem, I suppose, is that I am utterly unable to
extract a useful principle from any of my resentments. Sometimes
I'm happy for the accommodations our society is making for the
"differently abled." Sometimes I think they ask too much or are
ungrateful and whiny. And sometimes I think, with Krauthammer:
Why, what a sensible, nonobtrusive, nonhumiliating solution.
Shouldn't all our accommodations be like that?

But, of course, they can't be. Sometimes the handicap means that
you can't do things the way everybody else does them, that you
have to accommodate to your own situation. By picking up the
phone and calling the transit authority's information line, for

There, I feel so much better.
(c) Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

From: Craig Wilson <cwilson@slip.net>
Subject: RE: Washington Post editoral:  Claims Against Common Sense
Resent-From: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Here's a letter to the ditor I just sent to the Post. There's so much that
could be said, but I tried to raise what I see as the issue around the
necessity ot including everyone in the community of dialogue that I think
the Web is.

To the editor: William Raspberry's column "Claims Against Common Sense" is both
patronizing and off the mark.

How obnoxious is his "sympathy" for Randy Tamez, the visually handicapped
San Jose man who filed a complaint that he could not access transportation
schedule information from the Bay Area's Metropolitan Transportation
Commission Web site. But after all, says Raspberry, we already have
"something that works well for most of us, Web sites with lots of graphics,
sound, video clips and such that make it possible to provide useful
information in user-friendly ways." 

I seem to recall a time when America had a segregated school system that
was thought to "work well for most of us." The point then, as now with the
World Wide Web, was not making changes simply to redress the "unfairness"
or "inequality" of separate school systems (as important as that was and
is.) The significant social questions "equal opportunity" and "equal
access" raises are who is included in our society and who is not, who makes
the decisions and how those decisions are made.  In the case of computers
and the Internet, the question can also be framed as "who is the user to
whom user-friendly applies?" All of which goes far beyond how pretty Mr.
Raspberry thinks Web pages should be and whether he "sympathizes" or not
with someone who is visually impaired.


-> Life is a beta test. We mustn't let software companies add unnecessary
Received on Tuesday, 17 November 1998 19:50:10 UTC

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