Re: Flickr and alt

I want to bring this back to the spec and what should be required in order 
to achieve the best ends for all.

Regardless of the law, there is a responsibility of the community to make 
content accessibility to all.  As I understand it, this is the very center 
of what the web is about.

AS far as answering your question about who should benefit, it is all for 
whom technology is available to benefit.  It is unfortunate but I would be 
less than accurate if I were to say that all should have access when 
technology is not present to accomplish this.

We must understand what accessibility is and it's been rewritten so many 
times, it seems to get lost.  The wcag 2.0 thematic approach for instance 
"perceivable, operable, understandable and robust, is to a degree subjective 
and they are attempting to ensure that it is testable.  I would argue with 
its followings that someone needs to know how to write in order to write.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Boris Zbarsky" <bzbarsky@MIT.EDU>
To: "David Poehlman" <>
Cc: "W3C WAI-XTECH" <>; <>
Sent: Sunday, August 24, 2008 11:02 AM
Subject: Re: Flickr and alt

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 (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 15:20:56 UTC