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RE: WaitingForBob -- Selfish Reason for Accessibility

From: Michael Burks <mburks952@worldnet.att.net>
Date: Thu, 8 Jun 2000 07:20:56 -0400
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <005701bfd13b$9d40ab80$8e404d0c@computer1>

I have been following this discussion with some amusement and some
consternation.  I am wondering if the person who says the force of law will
produce gruding compliance, has ever had find a restroom that could
accomdate their wheelchair?

The Web is no longer a separate and distinct entity.  It is more and more
becoming a part of everyday life.  With that in mind it should be clear that
tne only way some organizations will comply with making things accessible is
by the force of law.  This is not directed at those who would do it anyway.
I have seen estimates that some 70-90 % of web sites are inaccessible.  Now
whether these figures are accurate is not the point, the point is that many
web sites are not accessible, and people with disabilities are being
separated from others and denied access to vital products and services.

The fact is that this will make a bad situation ( 80-90% of people with
disabilties who can work are unemployed or underemployed) even worse.  All
the academic arguments in the world will not change this.  If the force of
law was not necessary to level the playing field then the ADA would have
been unecessary.  As it stands it has not done enough.

Again I suspect that many who rail against the force of law are neither
disabled nor unemployed.  I suggest that they take a good long look at the
figures about this situation and re assess their postition.  Let me add this
as well, I would rather have people gainfully employed and paying taxes than
on social security and being supported by those who do work.  Most of the
folks I know on SSI feel the same way.

Just for the record I am disabled and employed.


Mike Burks

-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org]On
Behalf Of Christopher R. Maden
Sent: Thursday, June 08, 2000 3:58 AM
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Subject: Re: WaitingForBob -- Selfish Reason for Accessibility

At 07:21 7-06-2000 -0700, William Loughborough wrote:
>Got to have standards.
>Got to enforce the standards.

While ISO standards have force of law in some countries, some of the most
successful standards in terms of compliance include HTTP, SMTP, and
XML.  One (XML) is "enforced" by an industry consortium (the W3C), and the
other two by a decentralized amorphous group (the IETF).  These standards
are successful because the benefits of compliance are obvious and intensive
education efforts have been run by various groups at various times.  (AOL
and Microsoft had notable non-compliance events with HTTP.  They were
smacked into line not by any authority, but by a failure to communicate
with other Internet entities.)

In the case of accessibility, law enforcement will produce grudging
adherence to the letter of the law, which will not actually improve the
accessibility of the Web.  Education that demonstrates the concrete
benefits of real accessibility will produce motivated accessibility efforts
on the part of content providers.

>In matters similar to this in all civil/human rights movements there is
>this frequent cry "you can't legislate morality, what's needed is
>education." One of the best educations is a 2x4 upside yo' head.

Any sysadmin knows the value of a LART.  But the sysadmin has real
enforcement power on a system.  The biggest problem with trying to enforce
anything on the Internet is that actual power to change anything is close
to zero.  Any law ultimately has a gun behind it; figuring out where to
point those guns on the 'net is next to impossible.  Enforcement *can't*
work - my philosophical disagreement with it is moot.

>I don't know if Chris is advocating we take no further steps to
>promulgate regulations concerning standards compliance by government Web
>sites or the proscription against our taxes being used to buy
>inaccessible software, but if he is...

If I am, what?  You'll take a 2x4 to my head?

I want to make it clear that there is a significant difference between laws
requiring that the government itself be accessible - which is effectively
the same as a corporate regulation - and laws requiring that other entities
be accessible.  Here I'm referring to the DOJ finding that Web sites were
likely public accommodations covered by the ADA.  I think that attempts to
rigorously enforce general accessibility, whether through litigation or
criminal proceedings, will give accessibility a bad name and hinder efforts
to make the Web a better place.  A better idea is to vote with your feet,
and to encourage others to do the same.  Organize boycotts and awards.  I
use Lynx as my primary browser, and I simply refuse to visit sites that
can't be seen with Lynx.  It acts as an excellent bozo filter; generally,
if it doesn't work in Lynx, the content really isn't that interesting


Christopher R. Maden, Solutions Architect
Yomu: <URL:http://www.yomu.com/>
One Embarcadero Center, Ste. 2405
San Francisco, CA 94111
Received on Thursday, 8 June 2000 07:45:01 UTC

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