W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > April to June 1999

Re: QED & Marshall McLuhan

From: <Lovey@aol.com>
Date: Wed, 9 Jun 1999 16:59:46 EDT
Message-ID: <9dd4876e.24902fc2@aol.com>
To: bbailey@clark.net, jay@peepo.com, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
In a message dated 6/7/99 3:00:29 PM, bbailey@clark.net writes:
<< For what it is worth, Bill Gates (and others) are hard at work at this
because, after all, if you make computers easier for persons with cognitive
disabilities to use, you make computers easier for everyone to use, and
then you get to sell more computers!  Windows is hard to use (that is, it
requires literacy) because the best minds have not been able to figured out
how to make it otherwise! >>

I find this thread confusing and upsetting.
For what it's worth in 1985, Apple Computer created it's Disability Solutions 
Group. Since then, children and adults with learning disabilities and 
developmental delays (i.e., non-readers) have been using computers in the US 
and abroad. 
My son started in 1997 on an Apple II when he was one month old and still 
uses Apples and Macs at school and Home.

Quite simply this means there are children and young adults with LD/DD's 
(i.e., non-readers) that are *computer literate*.
My 12 year old has Downs, and has a reading level of K-1. He can open 
applications in the Mac and - do practically anything he wants. 
But the internet is useless to him. 
He cannot use a browser such as PW Speak because he is also hearing impaired.

Yet, the times we visited Johnathan's peepo.com were a fascinating experience 
for me and exciting for him.
The first time was immediately interested and expressed he found the website 
pleasing. He navigated through the website without any prompting by following 
the icons. The Museum tours are his favorite. He likes the rocket.
But he also likes Hockey, Laurel and Hardy and the Spice Girls. We live in 
San Antonio and he is very interested in the playoffs (Go Spurs Go!). He 
cannot navigate these websites (even if they were "accessible").
As Anne L. Pemberton stated in an earlier post, there is an entire generation 
of children and young adults with LD/DD's who want to use the internet NOW.
If we ignore this we might as well tell these young people to get a stone and 
draw on a wall or send smoke signals.

What was the population of PWD's the framers of the WAI originally planned 
for? Perhaps it has already changed. 
I am a purist - I dislike flashy animations, etc., on websites, but I have to 
admit from my own experience as a mother, a text based medium isn't going to 
work.  AOL is the closest to usability for an on-line service for my son 
because they use a lot of symbols (globes, mail icons, pictures, etc.)

Many webmasters believe "designing for accessibility" refers only to people 
with vision or hearing impairments (they do not even consider those with 
gross or fine motor impairments)
Yet, personally I think it would be easier/faster to click on an image of a 
football than to have to read it or have it read to me. I am not an expert, 
but the visual recognition seems to be processed faster than the written word.

So I have a quandary. 
My older child surfs through the internet with several windows open at a 
lighting speed. My younger sons watches intently, but he cannot type in URL's 
or keywords for search engines. 
After so many years of work and reinforcement by my family, therapists and 
educators telling my son "You CAN do it" how will I tell my "computer 
literate" child he can't use the internet?
He will try anyway, but "non-readers" that have higher cognitive abilities 
know their rights and will demand them. (these could be people who have 
suffered strokes or TBI's)

I also have to remember I live in a city with an illiteracy rate of 25%. 
These people probably also live below the poverty level. They can't afford 
computers - should we forget them and their children?

The internet is in it's infancy and a million lights years behind the 
education of PWD's.  How did this happen - I don't have a clue? But don't 
write this off.
As always,
With kindest regards,
ps: Here is a primer to help you understand pictorial language:
The Elephant’s Memory: In Search of a Pictorial Language
An invented pictorial language for children and adults 
by Timothee Ingen-Housz.
Received on Wednesday, 9 June 1999 17:00:21 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Tuesday, 13 October 2015 16:21:04 UTC