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From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Wed, 27 May 1998 20:10:20 -0700
Message-Id: <>
To: love26@gorge.net
Cc: "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
At 06:42 a.m. 05/27/98 -0700, William Loughborough wrote:
>I wonder if anyone has any reason why the following Proposed
>Presidential Proclamation could, should, or would not be embraced by
>such people as Tim Berners-Lee, Bill Gates, and (tada) Bill Clinton:

Do you want real reasons or will I be condemned as a traitor to
The Cause for doing so? :)

>Because "the buck stops here" I am from this date forward *requiring*

Reason #1:

Technical implementation issues should not be decided at the
presidential/CEO level based on reasons of politics, in my 
opinion.  Clinton's knowledge of HTML and the issues around
accessible web design is likely nil or less.

Specific technical issues should be addressed by trained
technical staff with expertise in that field, taking their
direction from the leadership, but not having exacting policy
dictated by a lofty and ignorant leader who can be swayed
by the latest polls or snazzy presentation.

>that any document put onto the World Wide Web by this ______________
>[insert "organization", "company", or "government" here] conform to the
>Authoring Guidelines of the Web Access Initiative of the World Wide Web
>Consortium as published at: http://www.w3.org/TR/WD-WAI-PAGEAUTH.html

Reason #2:

Those guidelines are in a state of flux.  Indeed the Guidelines
themselves state that they are not to be considered a "solid 
base" of any sort.  Requiring people to follow a "standard" that
does not exist as such and is not yet settled on is a bad thing.

Right now I'm involved with a project in the HTML Writers Guild
to examine the guidelines.  In general, they're a good document;
however, there are definite "problems" with them that must be
addressed before they can be useful and valuable to the greater
community of web designers.

Insisting on using those documents, as they are today, would be
a big mistake.

>Although retrofitting all of our Web sites is a daunting (but ongoing)
>task, there can be no excuse accepted for not making all further Web
>additions (or revisions) fully compliant with accessibility guidelines.

Sure there can further excuses:

Reason #3:

Our core audience doesn't have a browser that supports the WAI

Reason #4:

We make our material available in other formats besides the web,
thus we are in compliance with ADA without needing to do the work
you claim is required.

Reason #5:

Following these guidelines will add half-again the time on to the
development of our web pages, and thus will increase by 50% the
expense of producing materials on the web for us.

Reason #6:

We have invested heavily in a particular web design tool which all
of our users are trained in and know how to operate; while it does
not produce the code you want it to, we are pleased with it and
are unwilling to spend the money to switch.

Reason #7:

We don't have the expertise needed to do this currently; thus we
would have to send our people out for training or hire contractors
to do this; we don't have the finances now to support what you
suggest, and can't justify the cost based on the projected benefits.

>At the LA Face2Face Phill Jenkins pointed out that as he went through
>the various phases of trying to get IBM's web presence into the world of
>accessibility the first methods' effectiveness (personal modification,
>pleas to webmasters to comply) paled compared to going to somebody in
>charge who in effect said "fix it or get fired!"

If only it were as simple as "fix it".  When we're talking major
expenditures of time, money, and energy of a number of people, those
expenses have to be justified.  You're asking people to spend
thousands or millions of dollars, just because -- why?  "More
blind people may read your site?"  "You won't get hit with an
ADA fine?"  "It's the right thing to do?"

I'm not meaning to be negative today -- and of course I fully
support accessible web design -- but I don't think it's as
simple as merely getting a handful of leaders to say "MAKE IT
SO" in order to solve this problem.  By pretending that it's
a simple solution, I think we hurt our cause more than we
help it.

Kynn Bartlett <kynn@hwg.org>
Vice President, Marketing and Outreach, HTML Writers Guild
Education & Outreach working group member, Web Accessibility Initiative
Received on Wednesday, 27 May 1998 23:02:54 UTC

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