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Commercial Realities and Accessibility (was: Are Small Text butto ns level 2 compliant)

From: Dave J Woolley <david.woolley@bts.co.uk>
Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2000 18:40:22 +0100
Message-ID: <81E4A2BC03CED111845100104B62AFB5824A35@stagecoach.bts.co.uk>
To: "'WAI'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
> From:	Kynn Bartlett [SMTP:kynn-edapta@idyllmtn.com]
> CSS is unreliable, and the needs of web designers (and site
	wants, not needs.

> concerns are worthless (and they must use an inferior solution
	The real problem is that HTML in an inferior solution,
	because it is not designed to meet the requirement of
	a thin client page description language that commercial
	designers really want.  They don't share the concerns
	expressed by TB-L and the W3C.

> That's not a barrier, that's simply poor use of your user
> agent software.  If you want a faster loading page, then don't
> load images -- there's a switch on _your_ software to do this.
	[DJW:]  It takes even longer then to turn the feature
	on an off, just to get fast access to the few sites
	that use alt properly.

> Most users do not consider download time as a "barrier" to
> access; it is expected that web pages will take a while to
> load, especially on relatively slow connections.  Your suggestion
	Even the rather visually oriented 
	http://www.websitegarage.com/ considers load times
	to be a significant factor, and I've certainly backed
	out of sites waiting for all the graphic elements to
	form a recognizable picture.

> That's not a barrier; it's barely even a speedbump.
	Speed bumps are supposed to be barriers to excess speed.
	If they don't act as a barrier to some users of the road,
	they are failing in their purpose.  (They act as a barrier
	to the speed, and also a barrier to drivers wanting to
	use speed, making it more attractive for them not to
	cut through the back streets.)

> Your colleagues may be thinking realistically; such concerns
> cannot simply be written off, they must be addressed.
	[DJW:]  Actually I agree , and that was the sort
	of point I was trying to make.  I find the person
	on this list with the signature that says accessibility
	is a right is being totally commercially naive. 

	The colleagues are expressing the position that gets them
	paid, which is basically that there is no money in 
	even thinking about accessibility. I try to take into
	account accessibility, but often have to forego it.

	People on the list need to understand that the current low
	accessiblity, and ubiquitous broken HTML, on web sites is
	the natural consequence of, largely unregulated, market forces.

	There are two problems here, one is the general 
	government regulation problem as to how do you bias
	the market to achieve your public policy aims without
	getting voted out of office by the businesses that 
	think they are incurring extra costs or losing 
	business to unregulated countries.

	The other is the one I pointed out above that HTML
	was never intended as a thin client page description
	and animation language, but as a way of marking up
	the structure of information.  It is being used not
	because commercial authors really want its design
	characteristics but because browsers come pre-installed
	on PCs and because people have learned to use it
	in college, probably in turn because one could originally
	hand code it, whereas hand coding of PDF is much more
	difficult and you had to pay for the authoring tools.

	(PDF won't meet the current demands for animation, but
	is a better fit to commercial wants technically, but not
	in the sense of a pre-installed thin client with 
	free authoring tools.)

> They are not addressed by viewpoints such as "all graphical text
> is inaccessible" which require the use of defective technology
> to achieve poor results.
[DJW:]  I believe that the guidelines where written from the
point of view of the original concept of HTML, and really
were meant to discourage text as graphics.  A lot of HTML 4
is a, largely unsuccessful attempt, to manipulate authors
into better accessibility practices.

SVG is a better thin client page description language, but
my objection to it is that it removes the weak constraints
on authors to produce vaguely structured documents that 
are imposed by HTML.  However, the commercial reality is that
worrying about the likely ubiquitous inaccessible use will not
stop it, or similar tools being created.
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Received on Tuesday, 26 September 2000 13:40:38 UTC

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