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The Nonsense Rhetoric of Web Accessibility (was: background-image in CSS)

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-edapta@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Fri, 18 Jan 2002 10:57:26 -0800
Message-Id: <a05101001b86e1e7fba93@[]>
To: "Charles F. Munat" <chas@munat.com>, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
At 10:53 AM -0800 1/18/02, Charles F. Munat wrote:
>RUST Randal wrote:
>>as a journalist, i find the point of view that the user has control over
>what i determine is essential is simply ludicrous.
>Yes, and back in the 1960s, many store owners thought that they had 
>a right to decide who they would serve and how. If blacks were 
>served at all, they had to enter through the back door. And when 
>confronted with the discriminatory aspect of this practice, the 
>store owners loudy protested their right to discriminate.

Wow, this is the week of awful analogies

>Accessibility is a civil rights issue, and civil rights issues are 
>human rights issues.

Yes, but what you're saying and what other people are saying is, frankly,
bizarre, inflammatory, divisive, and downright stupid.

A background image which is related to the content, which conveys
content available elsewhere on the page, which can be safely turned
off and still convey the essential purpose of the page, which
enhances the ability of the visual user to use the content without
hurting the accessibility to those who cannot see visual content,
and which complies with WCAG1 -- which is what Randal proposed,
if anyone had bothered to read it -- is in NO WAY AT ALL anything
like store owners discriminating against black people.

Not at all.  It's not.  It's simply not.  If you claim otherwise,
you are insane, deluded, lying, or woefully misinformed.

The author determines the essential purpose of a web page.  This is
not discrimination.  This is not equivalent to racism.  This is not a
major threat to accessibility in the slightest.

The GREATER threat to accessibility is nonsense rhetoric such as
this, which only serves to make web accessibility activists look
like complete and utter fools, thus making it harder for those of
us who are not utterly foolish to stand up and say, "you have to
make sites which can be used by everyone" while some other loon
is off saying, "...which means that I, the user, have full
control over whatever you want to say!"

I find the comparison to racism to be completely offensive both in
the minimalization of 1960s-style racism and the absurdity of
claiming that the existence and proper execution of authorial
intent -- in which the author is explicitly taking steps to
ENSURE the accessibility of the essential content of the page --
to be equated with racism.

Come on, people.  Of course accessibility is a human rights issue,
but let's not suddenly make any sort of statements which we don't
agree with into a Nazi death camp or institutionalized racism
or slavery or whatever.  Please.

--Kynn, disgusted

Kynn Bartlett <kynn@idyllmtn.com>                 http://kynn.com
Chief Technologist, Idyll Mountain            http://idyllmtn.com
Web Accessibility Expert-for-hire          http://kynn.com/resume
January Web Accessibility eCourse           http://kynn.com/+d201
Forthcoming: Teach Yourself CSS in 24 Hours
Received on Friday, 18 January 2002 14:23:27 UTC

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