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Date:      Wed, 7 Nov 2001 00:56:15 -0600
From:      Mike Meyer <>
To:        "Ted Mittelstaedt" <>
Cc:        <advocacy@FreeBSD.ORG>, <chat@FreeBSD.ORG>
Subject:   RE: NatWest? no thanks
Message-ID:  <>
In-Reply-To: <000001c1674e$6587e780$>
References:  <> <000001c1674e$6587e780$>

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Ted Mittelstaedt <> types:
> >> Then how about instead of mandating ADA compliance, you mandate EITHER
> >> ADA compliance, or W3C compliance?  I'd rather see ADA compliance mandate
> >> a website comply with a public standard than with it's own set of special
> >> rules.
> >By that, I take it you mean the W3C's accessibility guidelines that
> >can be found at <URL: >.
> >I'd say no. The federal guidelines - used for federal government sites
> >- don't mandate what technology be used; they mandate that there there
> >be accessible options available for all disabled - not just blind -
> >users. The W3C guidelines tell you how to do that using the technology
> >available at the time they were written. Would you rather have "Your
> >site must have accessability options", or "every img that carries
> >content must have a meaningful alt"?
> The problem with sentence 1 (which I assume is the fed guidelines) is
> that it's too easy to slime your way out of it.  The web designer/site
> owner could argue that since there's a web browser that has a braille
> driver out there that he doesen't have to bother changing his coding
> as long is his site renders in some fashion on the braille browser.  This
> ignores that because of crummy html the rendering is a much more
> unpleasant experience for the blind person than for the sighted person.

Sentence one is not the fed guideline, but my interpretation of a
bunch of the collapsed together. The guidelines proper can be found at
<URL: >.

As for the web site experiences, that changes time the viewer changes
a browser setting. That's life on the web, and nothing can change
it. One of the things the government tried to do was *not* limit the
technology that designers could use to make information available for
the temporarily abled. The critical idea behind the ADA is not that
the experience should be the same for everyone, no matter how abled,
but that everyone should have the same information available. This can
be done using one site and the W3C's mechanisms for alternatives, or
it can be done with a text-only site.

> Although it's been a while since I've looked at w3c, since it's a standard
> it surely is worthless if not updated to stay current with current technology.
> Forcing sites to stay compliant with it to remain OK under ADA gives a
> yardstick
> that is very definite, there's no wiggle room for the designer to slime out of
> it.  If the designers have a beef then they can take it up with the standards
> body and have a public discussion that settles things rather than some
> backroom
> sealed deal (which is how the government seems to like to handle things)

The part of Section 508 that covers the web are based on the W3C
WAI. Unless the W3C is made part of the government, it really can't
write regulations. The regulatory agency responsible for electronic
access has adopted the WAI rules. That's as close as you can legally
come to what you want.

> I liken this to the ADA requirements for ramps for building access.  The
> standard requires a ramp, but the codes also specify how wide and the degree
> of incline of the ramp.  You cannot for example put in a 45 degree ramp that
> extends 6 feet and is 6 inches wide and claim that it makes the building
> wheelchair accessible.  So why would you advocate that the websites that fall
> under
> ADA requirements be given more wide lattitude than ADA gives for building
> access?

Because they are working in a medium that's a bit more pliable than
concrete. The rules - again, adopted from the W3Cs WAI - are designed
to insure that the site will be accessible to any standards-compliant
browser. They don't say "every IMG must have an ALT"; they say "every
non-text element must have a text equivalent" (and 15 other rules,
some of which aren't quite so general). The first is tied to the
technology. The second one isn't - which was my point.

Mike Meyer <>
Q: How do you make the gods laugh?		A: Tell them your plans.

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