W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > wai-xtech@w3.org > August 2008

Re: Flickr and alt

From: Boris Zbarsky <bzbarsky@MIT.EDU>
Date: Sun, 24 Aug 2008 11:02:00 -0400
Message-ID: <48B177E8.304@mit.edu>
To: David Poehlman <david.poehlman@handsontechnologeyes.com>
CC: W3C WAI-XTECH <wai-xtech@w3.org>, public-html@w3.org

David Poehlman wrote:
> If the public internet were not responsible to stem the flow of porn 
> traffic, then why would action be taken to stop it when it is found and that 
> action is being taken every day.

The view of a large fraction of the population in the US (I can't speak 
as to what things look like elsewhere) is that the viewing of 
pornography is harmful to children.  I think I'm on safe ground when I 
say that the age range 5-13 is included in the definition of "children" 
involved here.  Therefore, there are laws which say that common 
carriers, while they are not responsible for looking prevention, need to 
take certain steps to remove pornographic material if it is accessible 
to children once said pornographic material is pointed out to them.

Note that numbers matter here, both in terms of the size of he group 
being harmed and in terms of the group which is worried about the harm, 
in terms of determining society's response.

To put numbers to this, there are, according to 
http://www.afb.org/Section.asp?SectionID=15#num (which I presume is 
fairly unlikely to underestimate), 1.3 million legally blind people in 
the U.S. and about 8.7 million visually impaired people.  I presume they 
exclude correctible problems, since that's the only way to account for 
the second number.

According to 
as of July 2008 there are about 36 million children between the ages of 
5 and 13 in the US.

> If the internet did not have a mandate for 
> accessibility, then why would there be laws to govern this?

You keep mentioning this, and I keep pointing out that these laws have 
their non-internet counterparts, and that in all these cases the right 
to accessibility is not absolute.  I realize that taking an extremist 
position with no room for compromise is an effective tool for social 
change at times, but I'm mystified as to how you expect it to bring 

> We stray but there is responsibility and president for it.

I assume you mean "precedent".

I don't think we stray at all.  The question involved is what the HTML 
specification should require from all HTML authors.  Your fundamental 
position, if I understood it correctly, is that an authors production of 
content that is not accessible to some user is a violation of that 
user's civil rights, and that hence all authors [1] must be forced 
(whether by civil laws or by authoring specifications) to produce only 
content that is accessible to all users [2].  If I have misunderstood 
your position, I would welcome you providing a clear description of what 
it actually is, of course.

As far as I can see, your position is not really supportable on moral, 
legal, or ethical grounds.  But it does inform your opinion on various 
accessibility-related aspects of the HTML specification, of course.


[1] I should note that this position seems to me to completely fall 
apart when applied to, say, an 8-year-old putting a school project up on 
the web so his grandparents can look at it, but then again I think this 
position falls apart on other grounds too.

[2] Or are you only concerned about blind users?  I realize that that's 
the aspect of accessibility that most concerns you personally, but what 
about users with other disabilities?  Should they settle for a lower 
accessibility bar?  If not, how do you envision this working, given the 
large number of various cognitive disabilities that limit comprehension 
of language, for example?  If a lower bar is OK there, how do you 
reconcile that with your fundamental "accessibility is a right" position?
Received on Sunday, 24 August 2008 15:02:53 UTC

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