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Re: Section 508

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Tue, 30 Jun 1998 16:05:55 -0700
Message-Id: <>
To: love26@gorge.net
Cc: "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
At 08:22 p.m. 06/26/98 -0700, William Loughborough wrote:
>Section 508 of the Rehab Act requires that federal agencies not buy
>inaccessible.  It's not much of a reach for that to apply to Web
>Authoring Tools *and their output*.  If a word processor or whatever has
>the "facility" to produce inaccessible code as a by-product of its "save
>as markup" feature, it should not be acceptable for federal purchase??

Okay, so I'll be a federal agency.  Please define what "accessible"
and "inaccessible" HTML code is, so I can know what to buy?

This is part of the problem with trying to rely on laws passed by
non-technical people that will be applied by non-technical people to
a technical issue.  You and I can figure out what "inaccessible"
means, but what does it mean in practice?

Is an editor "accessible" if it provides automatic ALT attributes
(such as ALT="image34.jpg 3752 bytes")?  What if it "provides support
for ALT attributes"?  Or does it have to _require_ ALT attributes
be used?  (And how does that mesh with autogenerated ALTs?)

You see, you and I can't even define what "accessible" means, let
alone expect a government bureaucrat to make that decision.  If
someone asks the maker of <X> brand of web software, be that
Microsoft or SoftQuad or Netscape or anyone else, "Does this soft-
ware produce accessible code?" they will say "Yes, it does", for
whatever definition fits their product.

And so we're back to square one -- except that now the bureaucrat
thinks she's doing a good job on web accessibility, even if she's

Kynn Bartlett <kynn@hwg.org>
Vice President, Marketing and Outreach, HTML Writers Guild
Education & Outreach working group member, Web Accessibility Initiative
Received on Tuesday, 30 June 1998 18:58:01 UTC

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