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Re: My issue

From: Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
Date: Wed, 25 Aug 1999 14:55:11 -0400
Message-Id: <4.1.19990825144323.00a3d9e0@pop3.concentric.net>
To: dd@w3.org
Cc: Authoring Tools Guidelines List <w3c-wai-au@w3.org>, Kelly Ford <kford@teleport.com>
aloha, daniel!

whilst i agree with your proposal vis a vis re-wording the intro to 1.2, to
wit:

quote
  - edit the intro (I think this is a bug as is) to say "the creation
    of accessible Web content", not just "the creation of Web content"
unquote

i am not convinced by your other arguments...  the purpose of the AU GL is
two-fold:

1. ensure that AU tools create accessible web content as per the WCAG
        *and*
2. ensure that the tool is accessible to authors with disabilities

and i would strenuously oppose any diminution of the latter's importance...

why?  as i put it to the AU list on 24 march, in a post which invoked a
perspicacious response by kelly ford, which i will also quote,

-- begin first quote
as a blind individual who has earned his daily bread for the past 3 years
designing, constructing, and maintaining web sites _by hand_ (several of which
have nothing to do with blindness or disabilities), i know that the days of the
electronic scriptorium are numbered -- the specs which one must master and
apply in order to create pages that are both accessible and aesthetically
appealing are simply too complicated to allow a webmaster to create and
maintain web content that conforms to the WCGL while working under a strict
deadline... the generation of accessible content is but half of the equation --
if we do not ensure the accessibility of the authoring tool itself, we will not
only have failed to fulfill our WG's mandate, but we will have weakened the
entire Web Accessibility Initiative, by tacitly stating that providing the
means for professionals and amateurs to create accessible web content is
sufficient... if we do not address the question of what compromises "base
functionality" vis a vis the authoring tool itself, we are, in effect,telling
those--like myself--who are incapable of using a mouse or a monitor that we
should rely on third parties to create accessible content_for_ us... this is
cyber-ghetto-ization of the most condescending kind... unless the authoring
tool is capable of exposing _all_ of the information it makes available to the
quote mainstream unquote user to a user of adaptive technology, it cannot be
considered an accessible tool,even if the output created by that tool is a
paragon of universally accessible design... the appeal of the web for persons
with disabilities is that it enables us to speak for ourselves--both amongst
ourselves and with the world as a whole... if we fail to include such base
functionalities as keyboard and other alternative input driven navigation in a
structured view, we are setting the stage for separate and unequal access to
the basic building blocks of cyberspace... which is why the analogy between
accessible AU tools and curb cuts is so apt--of course, the intent behind curb
cuts and entrance/exit ramps to public places was to enable those in wheel
chairs unimpeded access to places which had hitherto been inaccessible, but the
general population soon discovered that they make life easier for anyone
pushing a stroller or baby carriage,not to mention wheeled luggage... but the
parallel doesn't end there--when the legislation mandating curb cuts and ramps
was promulgated, there was a loud hue and cry by business owners (large and
small) and municipalities, decrying the quote unwarranted unquote expense and
potential economic hardship that compliance with the law (or so they claimed)
would bring... it was claimed that there was access to most places
already--although what was characterized as access usually meant that an
individual in a wheelchair could gain access to an inherently inaccessible
building by having someone either drag their chair backwards up the stairs or
down off and back up the curb... what was generally overlooked was that the
entire point of curb cuts was to endow individuals with the ability to traverse
public places _themselves_... so too with authoring tools--simply endowing a
professional or amateur webmaster with the ability to create accessible web
content is not enough--we must safeguard the inalienable right of all persons
to create content for the web, and that means ensuring that the tools of the
trade endow the quote disabled unquote user with the same range of options and
features that are available to the quote mainstream unquote population... it
also means ensuring alternative access methods are built into authoring tools,
and, yes, that features such as the ability to navigate and edit in a
structured view are include din the GLs... the argument that structured views
don't matter because most of the content on today's web is unstructured [note:
this was Chuck Opperman's argument at the previous teleconference] is as
fallacious as arguing that curb cuts are a waste of municipal resources, simply
because one has never actually seen a person in a wheelchair utilize them...
the accessibility of authoring tools themselves is as crucial to the WAI's aims
as is the production of accessible web content--it is not, nor should it be
considered, an either or proposition... if we fail to equate the accessibility
of an authoring tool with the accessibility of the content it creates, we will
have failed to create a truly accessible environment in which the physical
limitations of a web author are as immaterial as the physical limitations of a
web surfer...
-- end first quote

to which kelly ford added:

-- begin second quote
I think that Gregory's points are 100 percent accurate.  I would only add
that access is critical because as the tools for web creation are
developed, those of us with disabilities need to understand how they
operate to speak intelligently about their use to create accessible web
content.

It does no good for me to advocate and educate about how to create an
accessible web page if I don't understand or can't use the tools being used
to create that page.
-- end second quote

gregory.

--------------------------------------------------------
He that lives on Hope, dies farting
     -- Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1763
--------------------------------------------------------
Gregory J. Rosmaita <oedipus@hicom.net>
   President, WebMaster, & Minister of Propaganda, 
        VICUG NYC <http://www.hicom.net/~oedipus/vicug/>
--------------------------------------------------------
Received on Wednesday, 25 August 1999 14:51:02 UTC

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