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Re: The second thing I don't like about the WAI-IG list

From: Charles F. Munat <coder@acnet.net>
Date: Sat, 2 Jan 1999 18:46:53 -0600
Message-ID: <005001be36b2$9165d080$221172a7@acnet.net>
To: "Kynn Bartlett" <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>
Cc: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
At 06:25 p.m. 01/02/99 -0600, Kynn Bartlett wrote:

Well, he wrote a bunch of stuff. Rather than try to pick out
quotes, I've reproduced it below.

I half agree with the line of reasoning espoused below. Yes,
business-people will make decisions based on what's good for
the business. However, what's good for the business may
depend on ethical issues.

In the civil rights movement, the high moral ground was
clearly held by those in support of equal rights for
negroes. The moral underpinning of this fight helped to pull
in a lot of people who might have otherwise sat it out.
True, when the buses were boycotted the message to the
businesspeople was sent on the bottom line, as it must be
given our current business attitudes. But this message was
made a thousand times more powerful by the moral indignation
that roused so many other people to the cause.

So do not underestimate the power of ethical or moral
arguments. Nations have toppled over them.

Overall your argument seems cynical to me. Worse, you make
"idealist" sound like a four-letter word. Idealism is what
makes us most human. It is our greatest gift, that we can
see beyond our immediate needs. To dismiss this as naive and
to play--quite consciously--to selfishness seems to me to
perhaps win the battle but lose the war. It is a price I,
for one, am not willing to pay.

And I do not share your cynicism about humanity. Most of the
people that I know are kind, thoughtful people. They only
act cruelly when they are isolated from the effects of their
actions. When they see the harm that they are causing, the
*vast* majority are appalled and cease to harm. Now it may
be that all business owners are evil (I doubt it), but even
if they were, their business is a social venture depending
on the support of society for it's existence. They will
listen if enough of their customers demand it.

Sure, let's sing the praises of accessibility for all,
disabled or not, but let us not forsake the high moral

Charles Munat
Puerto Vallarta

At 06:25 p.m. 01/02/99 -0600, Kynn Bartlett wrote:

Part of the problem here is that when you make it "an
ethical thing" to support accessibility, you lose the fight.
Because businesspeople _will_ make it a business decision,
and frankly, the majority of people out there DON'T want to
make things accessible to the disabled.  It's the natural
state of people to be cruel and heartless to the disabled,
because people (in general) suck.

Accessibility _is_ about more than letting a blind person
look at your web page.  If you try to sell it on the
of "be good to the blind", you won't get very far.

However, you _can_ make a stronger case for accessibility
concerns by pointing out that it's not just "those stupid
cripples who want, of all things, the right to 'see'
on a computer screen! (why, next thing you know, deaf people
will be demanding the right to use radios!)"

Accessibility is about making the web usable by everyone, be
that someone in a car, on a phone, on a crappy computer from
the 1980s, in a foreign country, on the moon, or even
who's unable to see.  Sell the benefits of access to
and it's a much better sale than saying "hey, I'll tell you
what, I'll break the HTML, thus guaranteeing fewer people
use your site, but hey, it'll save you money!"  Any business
person who buys that will go out of business soon!

In short, I think you're a bit idealistic to think you can
accessibility on the premise that people will "do the right
thing" because they're ethical.  Especially since it's not
only benefit of accessibility.

Kynn Bartlett  <kynn@idyllmtn.com>
Chief Technologist, Idyll Mountain Internet
Design an accessible web site:
Tell your friend a celebrity wrote to you:
Enroll now for my online CSS course!
Received on Saturday, 2 January 1999 19:55:17 UTC

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