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[for discussion] comments on How People with Disabilities Use the Web

From: Shadi Abou-Zahra <shadi@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 17 Sep 2010 14:32:48 +0200
Message-ID: <4C935FF0.8090403@w3.org>
To: EOWG <w3c-wai-eo@w3.org>
Dear EOWG,

Please find the comments on How People with Disabilities Use the Web 
received so far. We will go through them on the call in a few minutes:

# Sylvie
  - Ref: 
  - Mostly editorial; several relate to references to "web browsing 
methods" which is currently incomplete

# Jennifer
  - Ref: 
  - Mostly editorial; one relates to references to "web browsing 
methods" which is currently incomplete

# External commenter
There are some parts on the WAI pages that indicate that sign language 
interpretation is needed for audio "accessibility". However, culturally 
Deaf people don't consider themselves "disabled" and rather as "cultural 
minority" and that they are very "visual". If that's so, why do they 
need sign language interpreters for websites where they can see 
information in print?

I understand if culturally Deaf websites have signed videos - it is part 
of their "culture" just like French websites are written in French as 
part of French culture. But if they can read and write, it doesn't make 
sense for audio and video files to have sign language interpreters 
online. We barely have any accessibility to video and audio in captions 
and transcriptions, and we wouldn't want to make confuse hearing people 
further with extra information about sign language that is used by a 
mere 1-2 percent of people with hearing loss.

I know many culturally Deaf people who prefer captions and would be 
offended if someone says that they "cannot" read and write - many of 
them are very proud not just of their Deaf culture, but also of being 
bilingual and bicultural and having good education. Also, many 
organizations complain about "expenses" on captions and transcriptions - 
to say nothing about expenses on sign language interpreters for online 
"interpretation" of text that all people with hearing loss can read (not 
to mention that sign languages also vary from country to country). 
Captions are UNIVERSAL accessibility for everyone while sign language is 

There's a very good article written by WebAIM about Deaf culture and why 
captions and transcripts are required for audio accessibility:

I totally agree with them - this is exactly what hearing people need to

For example, WAI wrote:

Under the "Alternatives for audio and video content" it says "Sign 
language interpretation of audio content, including relevant auditory 
experiences". Can this be removed to avoid confusion to hearing people?

And another example:

Under the "Accessibility Barriers" -> "Auditory" it says:

- Lack of sign-language videos as alternatives for long passages of text 
and for audio content
- Complex sentences that are difficult to read and unusual words that 
are difficult to understand

Can those removed also? Especially "complex sentences that are difficult 
to read and understand" - it would sound more like for "cognitive 
difficulties". Would that imply that culturally Deaf people have 
cognitive disabilities? They would be offended as well.

Also I would suggest to remove "sign language" from web browsing 
methods. Otherwise it would imply that people with hearing loss do not 
understand navigation in text???

Another comment about text alternatives:
- http://www.w3.org/WAI/EO/Drafts/PWD-Use-Web/2009/provisions#alternatives

It says:
- Brief descriptions of non-text content such as audio and video files

What does "brief descriptions" for audio and video files mean? We need 
FULL accessibility to audio components, not some summary. It would again 
confuse hearing people thinking that it would be okay to summarize audio 
info and decide for themselves what is important for us!

# External commenter
Hard of hearing people typically DO NOT use sign language interpreters -
they use CART writers.

Please read the following:
- http://hearinglossweb.com/Issues/Identity/ohl/nat/ohla/ohla.htm


"The term "Deaf and hard of hearing" is the largest contributor to the 
misperception that Deaf people and hard of hearing people comprise a 
single group. Most people use the term "DeafAndHardOfHearing" as if it 
were a single word, with little regard to its implications. *The term is 
oppressive to the OHL community, because it fosters the notion that the 
relatively plentiful accommodations enjoyed by Deaf people (e.g. 
interpreters) are appropriate for OHL people.* The result is the 
erroneous perception by the general public and many DeafAndHardOfHearing 
service providers that adequate services are available to the OHL 

"Virtually all of the services promoted as supporting people who are 
"Deaf and hard of hearing" really support people who are Deaf; they are 
generally "of, by, and for" people who are Deaf. The use of the term 
"Deaf and hard of hearing", or more appropriately,
"DeafAndHardOfHearing<http://hearinglossweb.com/misc/glossary.htm#dahoh>" is 
used primarily to claim a target population of about *30 million 
people*in the US, rather than the *few hundred thousand people who are 

"The bottom line is that *30 million hard of hearing, late-deafened, and 
oral deaf people do NOT have access to appropriate and adequate 
services*, because the services that seem to be provided for them are 
really appropriate only to the the *roughly one percent of people with 
hearing loss who are Deaf*."

Also, there's another link:


"Over the past several years I've sent many complaint emails to 
organizations that engage in behavior that is *oppressive to people with 
hearing loss who prefer spoken language*. (a group I call the oral 
hearing loss - OHL <http://hearinglossweb.com/misc/glossary.htm#ohl2> - 

"The most common example of this behavior is to group *32 million OHL 
folks*with a *few hundred thousand Deaf folks* and claim that they *all 
use sign language * (when *less than 2% actually do!*) I have NEVER had 
a positive response to those emails - UNTIL NOW! "

"The best statistics I've seen is that 2% of hard of hearing people use
sign. Perhaps you could say, "a tiny fraction of hard of hearing people" 
or "roughly 60 thousand of the 30 million hard of hearing people". Or 
better yet, why not just say "people who use ASL"? That leaves no room 
for misunderstandings."

There are much more emphasis on this on that website about the majority 
of people with hearing loss who do not use sign language (or if they use 
it, they do only for social purposes). I hope WAI is mindful of this 
majority of people with hearing loss (98-99% of those whose primary 
language is spoken, not signed).


Shadi Abou-Zahra - http://www.w3.org/People/shadi/ |
   WAI International Program Office Activity Lead   |
  W3C Evaluation & Repair Tools Working Group Chair |
Received on Friday, 17 September 2010 12:33:15 UTC

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