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PC Week editorial: "Accessibility for All"

From: <empower@smart.net>
Date: Fri, 08 May 1998 21:40:03 -0800
Message-Id: <199805090138.VAA28837@gemini.smart.net>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Below is an editorial from a recent issue of PC Week magazine, 
located at http://www.zdnet.com/pcweek/opinion/0504/04edit.html

Although it is not completely accurate, I encourage folks to send 
positive feedback to the publication's Letters to the Editor 
section, which may be addressed by email as PCW-L2ES@zd.com


May 4, 1998

Accessibility for all

Making the Web more accessible

The next time you go to the store, your office or a public
building, look around and you will see access ramps and other
means for assisting the disabled.

Now go to your favorite Web site or your company's home page.
You are unlikely to find any features to assist the disabled.

Lack of such accommodations is a growing problem for Web
developers, IT managers and disabled users. Not only does the
lack of assistance limit access to information, it cuts off a
potentially large group of users, or customers, of online

Until now, most users with physical or cognitive disabilities
merely got by on the Web. Some use text readers, speech
synthesizers or voice-activated commands to penetrate HTML. But
that access is in danger of being cut off as the Web becomes
more application-centric, with complex scripts for generating
dynamic content, which text-based software can't translate.
Likewise, hearing- or visually disabled users can navigate a
site but are left behind when audio or video is the source of

The solutions to the access problem are many and simple. First,
IT managers and Web-design teams should wake up to the need to
maximize access for all types of disabled users.

Second, developers should follow Web design recommendations
being drafted by the World Wide Web Consortium's Web
Accessibility Initiative group. When the guidelines are
published, within the next few months, they will call for
standard ways of presenting content that will make it easier for
disabled users to navigate a site, such as implementing standard
style sheets instead of custom HTML tags and offering
closed-captioning and transcripts of multimedia presentations.

Third, IT managers should learn about the potential crossover
benefits that access technologies will give to their nondisabled
work force -- for example, "hands-busy" workers, such as those
in factories or operating rooms.

The Department of Justice has ruled that the Americans with
Disabilities Act has jurisdiction over public Web sites the same
way it does over public buildings. If adoption of accessibility
initiatives is slow, lawsuits may result.

We take for granted the infrastructure that assists the
handicapped through the everyday world. IT managers and online
developers should make access to the Web just as ubiquitous.

Comments? Please send them to Letters to the Editor (PCW-L2ES@zd.com).

 Copyright notice

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Received on Friday, 8 May 1998 21:38:39 UTC

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