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Freedom of speech (Was RE: Another update to the proposal)

From: Yvette Hoitink <y.p.hoitink@heritas.nl>
Date: Wed, 1 Jun 2005 13:59:46 +0200
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <E1DdRsz-0005NN-U2@lisa.w3.org>

Ineke wrote:

> Hallo John,
> Thanks for your work, but reading the coming European 
> Constitution I think it is better to remove or change  
> everything that might be in contrary to the following articles.
> Art. II-83:
> Arts and scientific research are free. Acedemic freedom is respected.
> Title II: Freedoms
> Art II-71: Everyone has the right on freedom of expression. 
> This right contains the freedom to have an opinion and the 
> right to give and to get information without any intervention 
> of public authorities and without boundaries .
> I am convinced that everything that is about contents of a 
> website, should not  be testable  in the guidelines. Because 
> any test on the contents by law/authorities is forbidden in 
> Europe, at least that is my interpretation of the text of art. II-71.
> That does not say it is impossible that people can ask for 
> information/explanation of the content of a website, but 
> controlling/testing of contents is not a  task for authories, 
> laws etc. This has  only simply to do with freedom of expression.
> And about poems, prose etc we don't need to talk anymore, 
> they are free of everything, at least the contents of them.. 
> But the code can always be tested.
> I am not aware of such texts in the constitution of the USA. 
> I tried to google it, but the constitution texts I found did 
> not say anything about freedom of arts or of scientific 
> research/ acedemic freedom It may be that I found the wrong ones..

Whether this European Constitution is coming or not is highly debatable.
Last Sunday, France voted no, and today the people in the Netherlands are
voting on it in a referendum. Polls suggest they will vote against it as

But even if this constitution won't be ratified, most countries in the world
have a concept of 'freedom of speech' without censorship by the government
so your point is still valid. In the United States that's covered by the
first amandment [1] to the Bill of Rights. 

I don't see any problems for WCAG though. Freedom of speech is one of the
reasons why level 1 is rather limited, because at level 1 there no limits
are put on the actual message the author is trying to convey. All the level
1 items can be done in markup without interfering with the author's

For level 2 and higher, sometimes the author will be limited in the way he
expresses himself (for example: in choice of colors to make sure the website
is usable for people who are colorblind). But the author is free whether or
not to conform to these higher levels. Choosing to conform means choosing to
submit yourself to the limitations set by the standards. It's up to the
policymakers of countries not to require anything that is not legal. So in
countries that have freedom of speech as a lawful right, governments won't
be able to require level 2 from everyone. But people or organizations that
want their websites to be accessible can choose to conform to level 2 or

Yvette Hoitink
Heritas, Enschede, the Netherlands
E-mail: y.p.hoitink@heritas.nl
WWW: http://www.heritas.nl 

[1] http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.billofrights.html
Received on Wednesday, 1 June 2005 11:59:53 UTC

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