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Re: Legal Precedent Set for Web Accessibility

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Sat, 9 Sep 2006 09:41:53 +0100 (BST)
Message-Id: <200609090841.k898fr403790@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

> My point in saying the above is that here we are talking about a 
> multi-multi-multi dollar corporation that can afford enviable web 
> development resources equally capable of coding accessibly, not just my 
>   little $50 setup..

The way that multi-multi-multi dollar corporations become such is by
defining large numbers of cost centres with small budgets and making
sure that each one tries to maximise its contribution to profits
or minimise its contribution to total costs.  Excess funds go to the
shareholders, although if the market is working correctly, there are
no excess funds, because there is a competitor who will win the orders
if prices are high enough for them.

The total funds are just not available to any given web design project.

> Now, I'm meandering ahead to someone possibly suggesting that their 
> website errors and omissions, in particular those that directly affect 
> accessibility, are the inevitable result of a design necessary to 
> produce instantaneous, ever varying feedback for, say, product 
> availability, pricing, etc..

Producing valid HTML in automated systems is quite easy; the only real
problem is that pages are tested for correct display, not for correct
syntax.  About the only real issue in such an environment is that you
have to be aware of the need to escape certain characters and, judging
by the number of invalid form style URLs, most coders aren't aware, but
even then, that is easy once you understand what you are doing.

The real problem for accessibility in database systems is that the budget
for each descriptive item is very small, so they rely heavily on images
and put inadequate effort into the descriptive text (even for sighted users).

> invested enough in a project to do the finger work it takes to learn the 
> same (from any number of *f_r_e_e* resources available online no less)..

There is a cost in the time to research them and the time to use them,
and authors simply do not perceive a need to go beyond producing 
something pretty on IE.

> case is that, on a random validation earlier today, the homepage for the 
> Target website in question returned 556 errors, errors that potentially 

When you validate a commercial site quite a few of the errors are 
likely to be due to claiming a published DTD but actually writing against
the unpublished DTDs for IE, which contain many extra attributes, for
presentational reasons, and some extra elements.

Missing attributes, such as alt and type are also very common.

However, my experience is that most commercial sites also have serious
structural errors (somewhat akin to not-well-formed errors in XML).

> could negatively affect accessibility unto themselves, first gander 
> revealing many recognizable as immediately correctable simply with a few 
> quick strokes of the keyboard..

As well as not checking for syntax, many designers learn by cutting and
pasting, so never learn the fundamental syntax rules.  Many text books
seem to be cook books of cut and paste fragments.  I think all software
designers, these days, have to rely on cut and paste (e.g. out of MSDN)
to some extent as software changes so fast and is too poorly documented
to allow design from first principles.  However, there are a significant
number who cut and paste design without any understanding of how the
code works; I've met a least one example of someone who could only code
in that way.  (Also, in designing from first principles one risks patent
problems, although I'm not sure that is a big issue in this case.)
Received on Saturday, 9 September 2006 08:42:05 UTC

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