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Re: QED & Marshall McLuhan

From: Anne Pemberton <apembert@crosslink.net>
Date: Tue, 08 Jun 1999 12:44:00 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org, Chris Maden <crism@oreilly.com>
At 11:50 AM 6/8/1999 -0400, Chris Maden wrote:
>But requiring the impossible is impossible, and mandating the
>difficult is difficult.  We can (and should) work to understand how to
>accomodate those with learning disabilities or cognitive disorders on
>the Web, but until we have that understanding, we can't implement

I remember when it was believed to be quite impossible to educate children
who were born with cognitive limitations and parents were urged to
institutionalize their birthing "mistakes" and never look back. There were
folks back then who believe the impossible was possible. No, special
education doesn't prepare retarded children to study quantum physics, but
many who would have been remanded in the "old days" to a life sentence in a
straw-furnished cell, have achieved full status in society - they marry,
they raise children, they hold jobs, they pay taxes, and they are standing
at the doorway to the Internet and wondering when someone will let them in
(outside of schools).  

>I think there *is* a difference between getting information into
>someone's brain, and getting it in a form that the brain can process.
>They are both worthwhile goals, but they are different problems with
>different solutions.

In education, we have learned that the "different solutions" aren't all
that different, and after years of separating special education students
from their peers for "different solutions", we have now learned that much
is lost by removing some children from interacting with peers. The emphasis
now is on incorporating what has been learned by pursuing "different
solutions" for some, into instruction suitable for all. Putting some people
into a different subset on the Internet is no different than putting them
in institutions or separate schools. It is not inclusive. Perhaps a
separate subcommittee to work out the issues and develop universal
solutions is good for a start, but I don't think this group of disabled
people deserve to be sidelined just because it isn't clear at the beginning
how best to serve them. And forming a separate (less equal?) subcommittee
is not going to work towards a universality, but only a separation of

(Excuse my choice of words above. I've just finished summarizing Brown vs.
Topeka for a student who cannot get sense from reading the download I gave
her on the case.)

Folks, consumers, & taxpayers (and potential tax payers) want to be
included in the future, not shunted off to a side room for "illiterates". 


Anne L. Pemberton
Enabling Support Foundation
Received on Tuesday, 8 June 1999 12:36:34 UTC

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