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Washington Post Column Greeted with Raspberries

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Sun, 29 Nov 1998 11:01:04 -0800
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Letters to the editor in the Washington Post, from yesterday:

(apologies for the formatting)

He's the 'Whiny' One

Saturday, November 21, 1998; Page A19 

William Raspberry's recent column about the "excesses" of people with disabilities
who are using the Americans With Disabilities Act to more fully participate in
community life was narrow and ill-informed [op-ed, Nov. 16]. Using several examples
of "ungrateful and whiny" people who wanted accommodations in order to
participate in events that Raspberry enjoys every day of his life without thinking
(making a phone call, riding public transportation and reading a bus schedule), he
told people with disabilities to "get a grip." 

So Raspberry thinks a reporter doesn't have time to use a relay-type phone service
when a deaf reader wants to talk with him? What makes the reporter's time more
valuable than the deaf reader's? He has to rely on it every day of his life; the reporter
has to take 10 extra minutes. So, Raspberry doesn't want buses retrofitted with lifts
because so few people in wheelchairs ride them? Maybe if every community had bus
lifts, more people with wheelchairs would ride. 

Raspberry wants people with disabilities to accommodate to their own situations?
That's what they do every day of their lives with the help of the Americans With
Disabilities Act. Without the law, people with disabilities would be kept out of the
workplace, off public transportation and out of the communities in which they have
as much right as anyone to participate. All because it might cost a few extra tax
dollars or a couple of extra minutes. 

Raspberry is the one who needs to get a grip.

-- Beth Swedeen

William Raspberry does not understand that making a Web page accessible to a
visually handicapped person does not require returning to a text-based page format.
The technology for "reading" the most sophisticated graphics is readily available,
cheap and simple to implement. Sighted users need never know that the information
is also being made available to people using screen-reading software, in the form of
alt-tags and other text-descriptive materials. The sighted user sees the page in all its
graphic glory.

Before he complains about someone's desire to have public information made
available to the people who are, by law, entitled to that information, Raspberry
should not assume that making information accessible necessarily imposes
limitations on Web page designers.

-- Lila Laux 


Kynn Bartlett  <kynn@idyllmtn.com>             http://www.idyllmtn.com/~kynn/
Chief Technologist & Co-Owner, Idyll Mountain Internet; Fullerton, California
Enroll now for web accessibility with HTML 4.0!   http://www.hwg.org/classes/
The voice of the future?   http://www.hwg.org/opcenter/w3c/voicebrowsers.html
Received on Sunday, 29 November 1998 14:04:43 UTC

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