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RE: Statistics on Blind & Visually Impaired Web Users

From: Joel Sanda <joelsanda@hotmail.com>
Date: Sat, 04 Sep 1999 00:02:30 MDT
Message-ID: <19990904060232.13213.qmail@hotmail.com>
To: mburks952@worldnet.att.net, joelsanda@hotmail.com, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Forgive my ignorance, and this isn't to ignore the irony of your question. 
But what point can your question make?

I think it's obvious that just about anyone can access the Internet, within 
a certain definition of "anyone". I can access it for free at my local 
library. Of course, "access" is also a scale, and not an absolute today. 
But, nonetheless:

My friend who has severe CP accesses it all the time, and despite his lack 
of motor control has yet to not defeat the lastest gluns-a-blazin' game for 

My friend who is a C4 paraplegic uses the Internet and Microsoft Office all 
the time. She just became an attorney, thanks in part to the voluminous law 
texts available on CD-ROM.

And I recently made the acquantance of someone who is blind and takes 
courses online.

I think a much more realistic question is how many *do* access the Internet, 
for several reasons:

1. Like everything else, the growth of the Internet is informed by our 
economy. We're lucky the Internet came along in a time of great growth. 
Knowing how many blind and visually people access the Internet translates 
into users which translates into money via advertising from traffic and 
however else net-entrepeneurs cook up their money. After all, this 
discussion list is about getting more people on the Internet - increasing 
traffic. Which bring me to my second point.

2. Such a figure shows writing accessible code for Macintosh and Netscape 
browsers is probably less important than writing code that can be accessed 
by the blind and visually impaired. If we assume the available numbers are 
correct, there are more blind and visually impaired web users than Mac users 
on the Internet. If, as a web developer, my goal is to design web pages that 
will work for the largest number of people with the least amount of 
production time, I'm going to focus on the WAI suggestions and drop Mac and 
Netscape support in favor of IE4/5 and the recommendations of the WAI. By 
focusing only on IE4/5, I'll grab 75% of the browser share and be coding for 
a browser that several screen readers work well with.

3. Finally, creating an arbitrary group of "blind and visually people that 
cannot use the Internet" may obscure other determinants of Internet usage: 
gender (though as I understand it, this gap is closing rapidly), age, 
occupation, socio-economic status, and country. My hunch is that of the 
population of blind/visually non-Internet users, we can explain the patterns 
of non-use much more meaningfully using the above variables and not their 


>From: "Michael Burks" <mburks952@worldnet.att.net>
>Reply-To: <mburks952@worldnet.att.net>
>To: "Joel Sanda" <joelsanda@hotmail.com>,<w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
>Subject: RE: Statistics on Blind &amp; Visually Impaired Web Users
>Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 21:48:32 -0400
>Would it not be also appropriate to mention how many blind and viusally
>impaired users cannot use the internet at all?
>Just seems one should mention that.
>Mike Burks
>-----Original Message-----
>From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org]On
>Behalf Of Joel Sanda
>Sent: Friday, September 03, 1999 4:58 PM
>To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
>Subject: Re: Statistics on Blind &amp; Visually Impaired Web Users
>Kynn & Gregory;
>Thanks for the quick responses. I have been doing a lot of research on
>accessible web design for my company, and was just saying how I bet there
>are more blind and visually impaired users than Mac users on the Internet -
>according to the OS and browser stats at http://www.StatMarket.com.
>Well...I was asked to back that assertion up by a manager. <GULP> I don't
>know how accurate the self-reported figures at GVU are, but they the only
>ones I've seen so far.
>It sure would be a boost to accessible web design efforts if we had a good
>source of these figures!
>Again, thanks for the quick replies.
>Joel Sanda
>Get Your Private, Free Email at http://www.hotmail.com

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Received on Saturday, 4 September 1999 02:03:08 UTC

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