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Re: a new wave of disturbing possibilities?

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 24 Sep 1999 12:18:32 -0400 (EDT)
To: David Poehlman <poehlman@clark.net>
cc: Steven McCaffrey <smccaffr@MAIL.NYSED.GOV>, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.10.9909241213230.20737-100000@tux.w3.org>
As a basic principle, accessibility which is added on afterwards is generaly
more expensive, and further behind, than accessibility which is designed in
from the start, and keeps being a design criterion.

The way I think of it is that accessibility is a first-class technical
problem. The purpose of a communication medium is to get information from
person to person, and if there is a reason why that doesn't work, whether it
is becuase the bits get lost in the network, or two systems can't
interoperate (and this applies to a word processor unable to read a different
format and to a braille line unable to present the information in a document)
then the medium doesn't work. The challenge is twofold. First, designers need
to take this understanding on board. Second, they need to keep it on board,
and keep thinking about it, especially where they are trying to make an
optimisation. Applying the "it'll work 90% of the time, or 99% of the time"
approach to justifying a deviation from proper design practice is the warning
bell, but it must be heeded if accessibility is going to be a fundamental
feature of specifications or systems.

Charles McCN

On Fri, 24 Sep 1999, David Poehlman wrote:

  true but then the question arrises as to what we deliver it on and
  from what I've seen of the current crop of delivery platforms for this
  type of thing, there doesn't seem to be much hope.  I'm the eternal
  optimist but here as well as in some other arenas, just as we are
  about to catch up, it seems as though the proverbial rug will be puled
  out from under us.  How long will it take to get access up to speed on
  this vursus how long it will take for it to proppagate?
  These are things I have concern about.  Not, can it be accessible? 
  What will the cost be in dollars and lost potential while its access
  evolves.  Perhaps this is a paradigm where providing access can be
  done early and often.  I only know that as this prolfferates, we are
  in for a bumpy ride.
  Steven McCaffrey wrote:
  > If this trend moves to one standard platform where the notion of individual PC's and individual platforms (operating systems etc.) disappears, this could be the solution not the problem.
  > Besides, the issue is not a web-OS versus a PC Os.  The question is, regardless of which is used, are accessibility features built in.  Neither case has inherently better conditions for accessibility as far as I can see.  What is a potential problem is the "dynamic document" metaphor - this would really make things difficult for *current* screen readers.  Then again, it's not a question of dynamic vs. static either.  It's a deeper question again.  If dynamic documents do become the dominant metaphor, this just means accessibility standards for this model need  to be created.
  > If there really is one standard, seamless web-os, it should be easier to write such accessibility guidelines and easier to create assistive technologies.  There is no guarantee of this happenning of course.
  > The potential for taking advantage of something can always be ignored...
  > It is never as simple as "Is format/tool/technology accessible or not".  That question is much too simplistic.
  > -Steve
  > ------
  > Steven McCaffrey
  > Information Technology Services
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--Charles McCathieNevile            mailto:charles@w3.org
phone: +1 617 258 0992   http://www.w3.org/People/Charles
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative    http://www.w3.org/WAI
MIT/LCS  -  545 Technology sq., Cambridge MA, 02139,  USA
Received on Friday, 24 September 1999 12:18:34 UTC

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