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[Fwd: Re: practical info for creating accessible web pages]

From: David Poehlman <poehlman@clark.net>
Date: Fri, 05 May 2000 13:02:59 -0400
Message-ID: <3912FEC3.8AD62DBA@clark.net>
To: wai-ig list <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: practical info for creating accessible web pages
Date: Fri, 5 May 2000 09:36:56 -0700
From: "Stewart, Ron" <Ron.Stewart@ORST.EDU>
Reply-To: "* WEB http://www.rit.edu/~easi" <EASI@MAELSTROM.STJOHNS.EDU>

Go to our web site, or the DOIT program or MIT's site and use the guidelines
that are there. Until our legal department can deal with the copyright
issues of the WAI stuff, I am very hesitant to release what we have done.


-----Original Message-----
From: Paul Chapin [mailto:pdchapin@AMHERST.EDU]
Sent: Friday, May 05, 2000 8:41 AM
Subject: Re: practical info for creating accessible web pages

Ron, would you be willing to share what you do have?  I think I'd rather
adapt than build from scratch.

I don't want to sound too down on W3C.  It's nice to have some kind of
complete, structure "standard" to fall back on.  And I hand out their
business card guides when I teach PageMill which for many is their first
guidelines of any kind.  But their full guidelines are like handing somebody
a US Law book when asked about copyright and web images.

My big hope for W3C at the moment is their authoring tools guidelines.  The
awkwardness of making accessible pages from most web editors is significant
and contributes to the cost.

Let me agree with Ron, however, that we don't help the situation by implying
that accessible pages are free.  It's an "accessible pages, attractive
pages, inexpensive pages: pick 2" kind of situation.

When I recently changed my job, I decided that I needed to create a new web
presence for myself.  I also decided that I was going to go out and do it
right - build accessibility into it from the start. The problem I ran into
was that given that the variety of different disabilities and, more
importantly, the variety of different technologies to assist people with
disabilities is so extensive it's really hard to cover all your bases and
still create graphically interesting pages.  For instance, using tables to
format pages is almost universal anymore. But a lot of the screen readers,
dare I say most, don't deal well with tables where cells contain multiline
text.  The latest version of JAWS in fact does, but how many people are
running earlier versions?  If memory serves me, even the W3C guidelines are
a little vague on this subject using terms like "avoid" using tables for
layout and "we suggest separating structure from presentation". (Okay, I
looked it up).

Most of my users consider the disabled to be a minimal to non-existent
audience.  The faculty member working on a page for a course will look
around his class and say, "I don't have any blind students, why should I
care I my page reads well with a screen reader?"  The obvious counter
arguments, like the fact that the page may last more than one semester, or
that perspective students may want to see the page, or that it's simply
better to get in the habit of creating accessible pages, isn't go to cut it
with a busy faculty member if it involves a sign cant amount of work or

In a practical sense, this may mean just accepting that there may be some
people our there who aren't going to be able to access the page.  In many
cases it will be better to make draconian recommendations, (don't use
frames), rather than worry about the nuances of how to do something properly
if the proper solution is too complex.

What I'm looking for is a simple set of guidelines that will let my users
create attractive pages that are reasonable accessible and which don't
require extensive html knowledge.

My apologies if I've been ranting, but trying to figure out what to say to
faculty and students that is useful without turning them off to the idea
completely has been an extremely frustrating experience.

I will now get off my soapbox. If you're still here, thank you for your

Paul Chapin
Curricular Computing Specialist
Amherst College
http://www.amherst.edu/~pdchapin  (Note:  This is my old, out of date,
homepage.  I don't even think it passes bobby.  I've never been able to come
up with a design for new pages that is both attractive, universally
accessible and not excessively complex.)

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Received on Friday, 5 May 2000 13:03:28 UTC

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