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Equality within accessible online environments

From: Jeremy Hurst <jeremy.hurst@slightlydifferent.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 05 Jul 2002 12:01:39 +0100
Message-ID: <3D257C93.3070905@slightlydifferent.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

Dear All,

One thing that is being missed here is that accessibility should not be 
at the expense of equality.  Creating a site that is merely text on a 
plain background is not conducive to good Internet practice, despite the 
accessibility merits.  This approach will not inspire others to 
investigate making their own sites accessible, particularly in a 
commercial environment, until accessibility is the law for all, and I 
feel that the W3C site certainly lacks an element of design.  By 
creating a site that includes very few elements of design, the potential 
exists that the site could be accused of promoting exclusivity and is 
subscribing to the medical model of disability.

The issue of disability should not be looked at purely in terms of 
whether a site is accessible or not, but also whether it promotes 
equality.  The creation of two-tier sites where there is an accessible 
version and a non-accessible version is not good, as although this does 
cater for people with disabilities, they are obviously isolated and 
excluded through having to view a different site - a good example of the 
difficulties this causes would be the person with limited mobility who 
needs to use the accessible version of the site, but misses out on 
viewing any images that the other version of the site may have.

Until all Internet developers recognise that it is possible to design 
sites that are not only accessible but also inclusive - a 'one site fits 
all' approach - then the Internet will remain an exclusive province, no 
matter how accessible the sites are.


Jeremy Hurst
Business Director
Slightly Different Ltd.   http://www.slightlydifferent.co.uk
Tel: +44 (0)1326 372416   Fax: +44 (0)1326 372114

Slightly Different Ltd work with the Self Direction Community Project, a 
registered charity in the UK, providing a variety of online 
accessibility services including development, site reviews and 
accessibility audits.  A joint project is currently under development at 
www.alfaproject.co.uk examining the issue of accessible e-learning.
Received on Friday, 5 July 2002 06:59:05 UTC

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