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Re: QED & Marshall McLuhan

From: Steven McCaffrey <smccaffr@MAIL.NYSED.GOV>
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 10:36:10 -0400
Message-Id: <s764db2e.051@MAIL.NYSED.GOV>
To: kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
I too have been following this thread for some time.  Since I am totally blind, I am mostly concerned with access for the blind, but firmly believe in universal accessibility as expressed in the principles at least of the WAI guidelines.
In many areas, I think the web is still far too inaccessible because of being too graphical, but the people speaking up for the broad class of non-readers have made an excellent case and I for one want to learn more about how to use graphics to make sites accessible for those who need this kind of interface.  I believe it was once said that
injustice for one is injustice for all.
I believe this applies to accessibility as well.
The distinction between "accessibility" and "understandability" is not so clear-cut in my view.
It wasn't so long ago that people used to believe 
that blind people could not "understand" something because they could not "see" (i.e. "access") a picture, diagram, mathematical equation.
As L.Kelly pointed out, children as young as one month can learn to use computers: it is simply a matter of software.  All we need do is transfer this software to the web.  Hard?  I don't see why.
Am I saying that all sites, no matter how complex the material such as rocket science, need to be accessible to non-readers?  Well, some of those sites and *to some degree*, yes.
If it is an educational site, say written by NASA, explaining to the public at large
how the space Shuttle works, what it's mission is, and other information which, in part, justifies spending our tax dollars, then it must be accessible to non-readers as well.  Yes?

The discussion should now be on exactly to what degree

Certainly all government sites that explain government services must be.

I agree completely with  <snipet> from Charles McCN

A couple of points:

in the guidelines, 14.2 says "supplement text with graphic or auditory
presentations where they will facilitate comprehension of the page". But it
is priority 3 - something that may be done to improve accessibility.

Anne is suggesting that this is a priority 1 requirement - something that
must be done to remove an accessibility barrier. I will take this suggestion
to the guidelines working group.
<end snipet>
That's just my 2 cents on this thread.

Steven McCaffrey
Information Technology Services

>>> Kynn Bartlett <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com> 06/10 1:43 PM >>>
I was gone all day yesterday, so you were spared my interactive
dialogue on this subject.  However, I remain unconvinced that
every single page on the World Wide Web has an obligation to make
itself understandable to every single person in the world of
every cognitive/understanding level.

I view "understandability" as a completely different issue from
"accessibility", and while I have compassion for those who are
unable to comprehend everything presented to them, I cannot
possibly fathom the idea of instructing web designers to "dumb
down" every single page they create, irregardless of the intended

Yes, everyone should be able to _access_ the information, and
there should be a guarantee of _that_, but I cannot stomach the
idea that it is _my_ obligation to make _every_ piece of
information "understandable" in a way that is obvious to someone
with a learning disability.

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 Monday, 14 June 1999 10:38:53 UTC

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