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RE: Olympics.com (was: Re: apology on "alt" tags)

From: Sean Lindsay <seanlindsay@disabilitytimes.com>
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2000 05:04:07 +1100
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <LPBBIAACGBELCIBFLDOEIEIBCGAA.seanlindsay@disabilitytimes.com>

> > From:	Sean Lindsay [SMTP:seanlindsay@disabilitytimes.com]
> >
> > So saying "it would take a year", as many in the media have
> > misrepresented,
> > is totally inaccurate. Based on these numbers, a team of thirty
> could have
> > accomplished the task in the 17 days between the decision and
> the start of
> > the Olympics. Or, if IBM had mobilised all 2000 of the paid staff they
> > reportedly have on the project, it would have taken 90 minutes.
> >
> [DJW:]  Software projects don't scale like this (I think
> is actually the basis of the title of the well known
> book, The Mythical Man Month).


I'm fully aware of that (No project scales like this). I was just riffing on
SOCOG's unsubstantiated evidence that "one person working 8 hour business
days would take 368 days". The basic point is that they had the time, they
had the staff, and they were trying to show that they didn't.

There were approximately 325 business days between the lodging of the
complaint and the opening of the Olympics. So if they'd put 2 of IBM's 2000
project staff on it, they could have spent several months getting trained in
accessibility techniques and still got the work done on time. Whatever way
you cut this, it's not impossible.

"368 working days" is a nonsense figure, anyway -- if you actually wanted to
solve the problem, you wouldn't put one person on it for a year, you'd put a
team on it. If SOCOG/IBM actually did a proper cost/workload analysis of the
problem, why didn't they offer it as evidence in the hearing, instead of
offering this seemingly random number?

I speculate that this number, and the $2 million in infrastructure figure,
were invented to make the job seem impossibly difficult. "It would take a
year and cost $2 million" is a good sound bite to feed to the mythical
average Australian who's already sick of the cost of the Olympics.

Whether or not this is what SOCOG intended, this is how the case is being
presented in the media, and it's simply not true.

This should be an issue for people in this forum. If we allow these nonsense
figures to become part of the public perception of accessible design, it
will be even harder to educate designers (and more importantly,
decision-makers) about the true costs and benefits.

This is also why it's important not to mis-characterise this as "designers
who didn't know better". In this case there was a very deliberate decision
made at the most senior level not to pursue accessible design, but to fight

And, let's not forget, SOCOG *lost*. In Australia there is now a legal
precedent. It's not just about education anymore.

Sean Lindsay
Received on Wednesday, 27 September 2000 14:04:16 UTC

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