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RE: A Call to Arms(?)

From: Judy Brewer <jbrewer@w3.org>
Date: Sat, 17 Jun 2000 12:59:59 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org, "Michael Burks" <mburks952@worldnet.att.net>, "William Loughborough" <love26@gorge.net>
I agree that it's very important to have people monitoring policy
development around technology and accessibility issues. But the main
purpose of the WAI Interest Group list is not to monitor the development of
U.S. policy or that of any other country, nor to berate people about policy
actions taken or not in specific countries. Some non-W3C lists provide
options to do that, and I think that there needs to be more people
participating in technology policy monitoring and response on such lists.

It's still useful to exchange information on this list about policy
developments that may be informative for parallel developments in different
countries or that others may want to look into, and yes, you (Mike) shared
Cynthia's list of questions & concerns on this list on Tuesday evening U.S.
Eastern Time -- for a Wednesday vote in the U.S. House and a Thursday vote
in the Senate, apparently, which doesn't give the people who are in a
position to respond on policy issues in the U.S. much time to do so -- but
that can sometimes still be accomplished with targeted calls or emails to
policy advocates and others.

W3C does not typically participate directly in policy development, nor does
it monitor the language of such bills as they are in development. It does
develop technologies that are sometimes referenced in such legislation.
It's important that various networks of people monitor how the technology
and the policy intersect, ask questions, and help develop a technical and a
policy analysis and a timely response to particular problems. 

In looking at Cynthia's questions, one of the questions that I have is
whether the US Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) wouldn't supercede the
bill's apparent failure to address the need for accessible formats in
completing electronic transactions, and whether this couldn't be clarified
in a regulatory process. That's probably too detailed of a policy debate to
get into on this list, but for those pursuing some follow-up on this issue
it might be a question worth looking into.


- Judy

At 11:09 AM 6/17/00 -0400, Michael Burks wrote:
>I find it astounding that no one except Cynthia Waddell saw the implications
>of the Digital Signature Law.  She wrote a Commentary on this which I posted
>to this list.  As far as I can tell it was largely ignored.  The only
>response I saw was that I was suggesting the law should not have been
>passed.  I was merely bringing up rightful concerns...concerns that others
>should have voiced long ago.
>The people who hold responsibility for letting this law go through without
>challenging it are US!  Yes US who should know better.  There is an entire
>Agenda for digital laws being passed.  Who I repeat who on this list or any
>other is watching what these laws are and bringing the issues to the fore
>front.  I can assure I will, I can assure you that I will drag others into
>the fray, but who else?
>Mike Burks
>-----Original Message-----
>From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org]On
>Behalf Of William Loughborough
>Sent: Saturday, June 17, 2000 9:58 AM
>To: mediatalk@onelist.com; webwatch@telelists.com;
>dd-confcall@egroups.com; w3c-wai-ig@w3.org; jerrysorphans@aol.com
>Subject: A Call to Arms(?)
>Two NYT headline descriptors today:
>"Without one disapproving vote, the Senate passed a final
>bill...allowing sign[ing of] contracts online with a click of a mouse."
>"Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. is developing an Internet-based...
>system that will link truck and rail shipments at the click of a mouse."
>Those of us working on training Web designers to provide accessibility
>often recommend as an exercise hiding the mouse in order to emphasize
>the importance of keyboard/alternate operations. Both of the above
>stories refer to undertakings that are very likely to be easily made
>accessible to PWDs and not the retrofitting nightmare we sometimes face.
>But it's not clear if their designers had accessibility concerns in mind
>during their processes.
>Here the significant things are whether we could have had any input to
>these sorts of landmark decisions by means of Scott's suggestion for
>some "yet another consortium" of technologists/DRMers or whether
>effective awareness of the fact that there are people who are (could
>be?) a very effective part of society if their inability to use a mouse
>weren't some kind of major liability.
>W3C has been in the forefront of standards-setting for the systems that
>promulgate the protocols used in all these efforts. The members who work
>on these matters are commited to accessibility, in most cases. Yet...
>Could it be that the attitudinal prejudices against PWDs are so
>deep-seated that only a complete rebirth of "we're all in this
>together..." is a prerequisite for these kinds of innovations to be
>inclusive in nature?
>The mediatalk list members try to achieve this by influencing newsfolks
>to, through heightened awareness/sensitivity, make the common language
>lead in the desired direction: get away from "confined to a wheelchair";
>skip playing the pity card; command recognition of the untapped talent
>in the "disability community"; etc. Not just political correctness but
>simple humanity acknowledgement.
>The "Jerry's Orphans" are attacking the same problem by focusing on the
>peculiar outpouring of pity/guilt called the "telethon" in which
>organizations and individuals with a history of not hiring/respecting
>PWDs profess concern by pledging money to fund (mostly non-disabled)
>researchers working towards evasive "cures" while the "victims" are
>useful mainly as "poster children" to make the donations larger.
>Groups like Justice for All and ADAPT move in the political arena
>supporting things from demanding a statue of FDR in a wheelchair at his
>memorial to getting people out of institutions and into the community.
>As in most "wars" this one has certain "choke points" through which the
>"enemy" must pass. The Web is clearly such. Anything that affects the
>what/how of Webstuff, particularly the tools used to create/decipher it
>are extremely important targets.
>Posting to and learning from the Web must not be restricted to TABs. Any
>use of this medium must be undertaken with inclusion paramount.
>"Everyone, everything connected" must prevail. Brotherhood isn't perfect
>but the Cain/Abel thing and sociopathy can be overcome - particularly as
>we realize that we are all members of one another.
Judy Brewer    jbrewer@w3.org    +1.617.258.9741    http://www.w3.org/WAI
Director, Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) International Program Office
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
MIT/LCS Room NE43-355, 545 Technology Square, Cambridge, MA,  02139,  USA
Received on Saturday, 17 June 2000 13:01:21 UTC

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