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Re: Debunking the need for "text-only" parallel sites

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Fri, 21 May 1999 12:35:50 -0700
Message-Id: <>
To: Nick Traenkner <nick@kentinfoworks.com>
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
At 03:03 PM 5/21/1999 -0400, Nick Traenkner wrote:
>And of course browsers which support the mechanisms available to make work
>those pages which require no text-only views. While they are getting better, I
>am (as I am sure many here are) disillusioned by the progress of both
>Microsoft and that other company that I can't remember at the moment (started
>with an N I think...). I am sure this has a lot to do with the fact that
>although it seems old hat to me, HTML4 and CSS etc... are young

Except there are more browsers than just those two out there.  If
you consider the special needs of many users with disabilities,
you'll find that they might very well not be using Netscape or
MSIE.  The web is meant to work with whatever client the user finds
best suits his or her needs, right?

>But this is a real problem right now- some (business) clients demand hacked

Slap them around a little.

>in this case, text-only looks like a good solution, especially if you
>can do it without duplication. They aren't concerned that the AOL 3.0 browser
>that doesn't support CSS will render a page readable- they're concerned that
>it will render the page "ugly"- image is very important to them (though I do
>fight against 'marketing creep' as much as possible, in favor of accessible

If they're concerned about "ugly", introduce them to a screenreader
and their eyes (or ears) will be opened.  Load a demo version of
pwWebSpeak, show them that they _cannot_ guarantee presentation of
their pages EVER, and then let them hear how bad their site sounds
in pwWS.

Why is it okay to sound/look ugly to some people and not others?
Why is are those people who you look awful to determine by their
disability?  Ugh!

>This is not so much a usability issue then as it is a political issue (not to
>imply political = not important). By offering a text-only view of a site, you
>are creating information ghettos. Interesting point- one I would not have
>considered, being disability-impaired. 

It's always something to consider, especially when we are making
certain people feel like they're not the primary users of the
site.  That is TERRIBLE business sense.  Read my "selfish reasons
for accessible web design" at http://www.kynn.com/+selfish for
a quote about how much money users with disabilities have to
spend, and note that they'll spend it places where they feel

To me, multiple views of a site are sorta like having two doors
to a store.  One is at the front, under the sign, with all
the signs and people to greet you.  The other one says "DISABLED
ENTRANCE" and is around the side, with a ramp that leads up
to a plainly marked door at the back of the store.

If I were designing that building, I'd just make one big 
attractive door in the front, with a ramp up to it, that
anyone could use.  Wouldn't you?

>My view is that until everyone supports
>the proper application of HTML/CSS special accomodations may be neccessary for
>those web authors who must work within the constraints of a customer with
>high-visibility (actually the trick is getting them to constrain themselves).

Then the accomodations are being made for the sucky browsers
(MSIE, Netscape) -- so why are we making it look like there's
something wrong with disabled folks?

If I were blind, I would say, "The disability isn't that _I_
can't see the web -- the disability we're dealing with here is
_your_ inability to create a good page.  My disability doesn't
prevent me from getting information -- yours does."  I think
the same thing applies here -- why not have two views of the
site, one that reads "for REAL web browsers that can handle
HTML correctly and accessibly" and the other labeled "for
MSIE, Netscape, and other crappy browsers"?

(Be careful with your answer, you may inadvertently state that
it's better to alienate standards-compliant browser users 
and/or alienate disabled users!)

Kynn Bartlett <kynn@hwg.org>
President, Governing Board Member
HTML Writers Guild <URL:http://www.hwg.org>
Director, Accessible Web Authoring Resources and Education Center
Received on Friday, 21 May 1999 15:35:45 UTC

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