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Accessibility and Usability Forum

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Federal Judge Sustains Discrimination Claims Against Target.com website
Legal Precedent Set for Web Accessibility
le_gber

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 6:46 am on Sep 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

[biz.yahoo.com...]

A federal district court judge ruled yesterday that a retailer may be sued if its website is inaccessible to the blind. [...] The suit charges that Target's website [...] is inaccessible to the blind, and therefore violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)[...]. Target asked the court to dismiss the action by arguing that no law requires Target to make its website accessible. The Court denied Target's motion to dismiss and held that the federal and state civil rights laws do apply to a website such as target.com.

 

pageoneresults

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 1:20 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Let me preface my below comments with the fact that I am as passionate about this as the rest of you.

Does every book ever published HAVE to be available in braile? Nope, so why does my website HAVE to be the electronic equivalent?

It doesn't. And nowhere in this topic does it state that. We're talking about basic html guidelines here and nothing else. If the guidelines for developing a website were followed, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

Doesn't it strike you as somewhat bizarre that I could for example sell Amazon books that a blind man cannot read but I have to make sure he can read the *website*?

Not at all. The issues at hand here are not only affecting the blind.

I see all sorts of good and moral reasons why you might want to make your site easy to access but I see no justification whatsoever in forcing people to comply with an ill-thought law that demands they make up for other people's disability.

The W3C Guidelines for all things related to this are now becoming more public mainstream. If you think about this, the laws being thrown about now will be the groundwork for the change that must take place if the web is to move forward.

Developers, designers, consultants, etc. cannot continue to design as if it were 1995. The year is 2006. One of the biggest and most important things one can do is to learn basic html, the elements, the attributes, what each one means and how it makes a page whole. And then, one will need to learn basic CSS. With an external style sheet and NO inline styling and/or presentational markup, you've covered a very large part of the accessibility issue. As long as a user can override your stylesheet, you are leaps and bounds ahead of those who have pages full of <font> and/or inline styling. ;)

The above applies to the 10 page small business site and also the 5,000,000 page big business site.

In regards to this legislation, I'm all for it. But, I'm in no way supportive of the methods (the litigation issues) being used to achieve the goal.

[edited by: pageoneresults at 1:27 pm (utc) on Sep. 14, 2006]

le_gber

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 1:30 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)


[...] Blind people are not equal. They are blind.
[...]
They don't see stuff. That's what blind means. You KNOW this, so why the insistence that they be equal? They simply are not.

Well I am afraid that's where you are WRONG - from a legal point of view.

If you own a shop and refuses to sell your products to disable people that's discrimination.

If you own a shop and refuses to accomodate your shop access to allow them to be able to get in the shop and buy your products that's discrimination.

The same laws should apply to the internet. End of story.

buckworks

WebmasterWorld Administrator buckworks us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 2:00 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Nope, so why does my website HAVE to be the electronic equivalent?

That's not a good analogy for what this is about.

This is not about making a duplicate version of anything, it's about some simple fine-tuning for one version.

There is so much sloppy logic in this thread that it makes my head ache.

I'm seeing a strong pattern: the posters who are the most upset and making the most excuses are unlikely to be expressing an accurate understanding of what it takes to make a site accessible. I'm seeing many opinions that are based on fear, not knowledge or sound thinking.

It's ironic: if the first thing some folks had heard about accessibility was that the techniques are a reliable shortcut to better SEO, they'd be all over it thinking, "I gotta learn how to do that."

pageoneresults

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 2:06 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

It's ironic: if the first thing some folks had heard about accessibility was that the techniques are a reliable shortcut to better SEO, they'd be all over it thinking, "I gotta learn how to do that."

That's actually what happened to me! :)

I've long since changed my view on Accessibility and Usability. You no longer really have to think about the SEO aspect of things when following the guidelines that have been established for many years. Those guidelines are continually updated to reflect new technologies and Internet trends.

Want to read an excellent SEO Book?

[w3.org...]

[edited by: pageoneresults at 2:10 pm (utc) on Sep. 14, 2006]

Mindy

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 2:09 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

This is not about money or compensation. They tried to get Target to fix their site without litigation. This is about exposure, it's about making people aware of the issue, it's about establishing a precedent that others will have to follow. It's about making sure that everyone is clear that the ADA covers websites too so that businesses will have to think about how they design their sites, how they can make them user friendly for more than just your average user.

This case needed to happen to establish that websites are an extension of the shop floor and that anti-discrimination laws and laws about accessibility apply in cyberspace. This is a good thing for web design. It will hopefully mean that standards will have to be followed so that what works in one browser or assistive technology will work in all of them and so that professional designers will have a real specification to follow that works and a standard of quality to live up to.

I hope the DRC pursues something like this in the UK very soon so that designers and companies begin to take accessibility more seriously and start thinking about it when constructing their sites because it will make the web easier to use for everyone, not just blind people.

[edited by: encyclo at 2:18 am (utc) on Sep. 15, 2006]

Pibs

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 2:28 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thems are great sentiments.

Problem is, once you have such a precedent you cannot easily stop it. A law is a law and is not just a law for "companies like Target".

As someone pointed out earlier, if Target had immediately started trying to change they would actually open themselves up to a lawsuit in any case.

P.

Murdoch

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 3:03 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Honestly, I'm on the fence about the whole situation here.

I do support following the W3C guidelines for accessibility reasons, in this case just adding alt text and mousefree navigation isn't particularly hard so I could follow it.

Do I believe that people should be forced to do it though? Absolutely not. I think back to those signs in restaurants that say "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone". It may be a bad move for them politically, but I believe they do have the right to refuse service to anyone.

If you are the victim of such an unfortunate occurence, then do what is in your power without resorting to the legal system. Protest, start boycotting groups, hassle the customer support lines, or hell just shop somewhere else! Just DON'T SUE!

Yes Target could have complied easily (maybe) and then this would have been done and over with. But honestly, I think the real antagonist here is the blind student that called for a class action lawsuit. That's childish and inappropriate.

Doesn't Wal-Mart have an accessible site? I would have tried there first. Then you've already won a battle. Just say SCREW TARGET and tell all your friends to do the same, then you've made them lose business. But to take Target's money on a whim, without any real "harm" being done, seems a bit juvenile. Just my opinion just like everything else

[edited by: encyclo at 2:21 am (utc) on Sep. 15, 2006]

KenB

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 3:10 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Please note, this thread progressed so fast this morning that there were several new posts made during the timeframe I was writing this post.

People are panicking unnecessarily. Nobody's suggesting for starters that Bob Smith's personal webpage has to be perfectly coded.

Exactly... Besides, the laws could not be written in a way that put these burdens on personal/non-commercial webpages and still passed muster with the first amendment. This issue is strictly a commercial endeavor issue.

Even with commercial endeavors we're not (or at least I am not) suggesting that there should be laws that require perfectly coded pages. What we are suggesting is that a basic level of accessibility be supported (e.g. ALT attributes for graphics and keyboard navigation.). As has been pointed out and ignored is that HTML by its very nature is already accessible and keyboard navigation is inherently built into HTML. All one normally needs to do is simply add relevant ALT attributes to graphics, add label tags to forms and not do anything stupid that disables keyboard navigation to be accessible.

Should COMMERCIAL websites fall under the ADA yes they should. Should they be required to meet WCAG Level 1 yes. Should they be required to meet WCAG Level 3, maybe not. The web is inherently accessible. It was designed from the ground up to be accessible. In order to render a site inaccessible requires very significant failures on the part of the website's developer.

In a B2B setting (e.g. web based CRM) existing equal employment opportunity laws could very easily be used to force accessibility because the web is inherently accessible and failing to make that B2B web application accessible is denying a disabled person the ability to perform a specific task for no good reason.

Nor are they suggesting that if you miss out a couple of alt attributes or accidentally forget to label one form field you can be sued. But, if you are a business and you put up a public site that a non-disabled person can use, in the same way as a brick and mortar shop, then you need to take reasonable steps to ensure that as many users as possible can complete the main call to action of the site.

Exactly, if one puts up an ecommerce site they are directly competing with traditional bricks and mortar stores for the same business. It is not unreasonable; in fact it is the basis our laws are based on, to expect an online company to have to abide by the same regulations as their offline counterparts.

Offline business are required to put in curb cutouts, elevators, ramps, automatic doors, accessible bathrooms, counter areas of certain heights, etc. Requiring an online business to provide basic levels of accessibility simply levels the playing field. There are no good or justifiable reasons to render most sites inaccessible.

How would you feel if someone said to you, "I know I could have built my site so you can buy your groceries without needing help, but I couldn't be bothered learning how so instead you'll have to rely on a friend/relative/carer to do it for you. It must feel good having to rely on others when at your fingertips is a way to be able to do it yourself."
Its all about setting a reasonable standard.

Requiring accessibility standards doesn't just liberate disabled people, but it eliminates unnecessary burdens disabled people place on society by enabling them to do things for themselves. Even in a bricks and mortar situation most accessibility requirements don't place a tremendous economic burden on the business but they do lift major economic burdens from society in general. By requiring accessibility in the work place, people who thirty years ago would have been an economic burden on society because they couldn't work can now be fully functional tax paying members of society and not dependant upon government hand outs simply because they couldn't find work because of their disablities.

Nobody who's reading this has a site that is accessable by Every handicapped person.

Indeed, my site is more accessible than the vast majority of websites out there and there are still small parts of some pages that may not be entirely accessible. Most of us in this discussion calling for accessibility aren't saying sites need to be made accessible to the last degree. Not even the chap that sued Target was asking them to make their site AAA compliant to WCAG level 3. From my reading of this issue over the past year or so he was simply asking for single 'A' compliance to WCAG level 1. He simply wanted ALT attributes LABEL tags for forms, keyboard accessible buttons and alternative navigation means when inaccessible image maps were used.

Following accessibility guidelines doesn't just help the disabled; it makes sites more usable for "normal" folks. Again the biggest myth out there is that accessibility is hard or requires extra work. If it requires extra work to make a site accessible during the development process than the developer is doing something wrong.

To me one of the greatest scams a web development firm can do is to charge extra to make a site accessible. When I was helping to oversee a web development project the company I was working for had contracted out to a third-party, that third-party kept trying to make accessibility sound really hard and complicated such that they could charge extra for this service. It was complete garbage and simply a ploy to milk more money out of the company I was working for.

This is no different the garbage extra fees web developers try charge to ensure websites support different browsers. With practice it is no harder to code to W3C specifications and to be able to ensure that a website works correctly on all browsers than it is to get a site to work correctly on only MSIE; and presumably anyone who calls them self a professional web developer gets plenty of practice.

I suspect that if case law was built up that showed the ADA applied to the web and that web developers could end up being dragged into ADA lawsuits, we would pretty quickly see an end to the practice of inflating development costs to cover basic levels of accessibility.

The real problem with making ecommerce sites accessible isn't companies like Target. The problem is the bad advice provided by web developers and the inflated fees web development firms charge for these "special" services. In the long run it might actually save money for companies who want to do the right thing if case law was built up that showed commercial websites were bound by ADA requirements as web developers would have to make accessibility part of their normal development process rather than an extra service with an additional fee.

Sorry let me rephrase that. People do not want separate sites because separate sites rarely get updated as regularly and most blind users will tell you they feel they get given less information.

Why should they have to cope with separate, crappy text-only sites when a professional web designer who actually knows what he's doing can make the main site accessible quite easily?


This is exactly the point. It is a complete myth that one needs to develop a parallel site to handle accessibility issues. A competent web developer can build a completely accessible website that does not sacrifice any of the desired functionality for sighted, mouse using users with little to no extra effort. If a specific piece of functionality can not be made accessible than the developer really needs to reevaluate the functionality in question because actually might not be that user friendly for their target users who can see and use a mouse AND it would probably cause SEO issues as well.

I think the hostility to the whole idea of building well-coded, standards compliant accessible sites points to the reason there needs to be legislation about it. People think they shouldn't have to think about the needs of others, that it's someone else's problem "It's MY shop I can do what I like" or "let them go to another shop if they can't access mine" but not only are 80% of websites NOT ACCESSIBLE so going somewhere else is not an option in most cases, but general social concern suggests that people simply should think about others. You know, in the 19th century they had to pass legislation to require children up to the age of 16 to go to school. The parents didn't want it because they wanted their kids working in factories and bringing in money. At the time it was considered a blow to the free market. Today, we realise education is invaluable and can be thankful that we were given that nudge towards something that benefitted society as a whole.

Very good points that bare repeating.

Does every book ever published HAVE to be available in braile? Nope, so why does my website HAVE to be the electronic equivalent?

It doesn't. And nowhere in this topic does it state that. We're talking about basic html guidelines here and nothing else. If the guidelines for developing a website were followed, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

This is a very important point. Printed books are not by their nature accessible to the blind; however, by design HTML, CSS, etc. are innately accessible. To make a site accessible requires nothing more than following best development practices that are very simple and straight forward. For a competent web developer (and anyone claiming to be a professional should be competent), it takes NO MORE EFFORT to build a completely accessible website.

Developers, designers, consultants, etc. cannot continue to design as if it were 1995. The year is 2006. One of the biggest and most important things one can do is to learn basic html, the elements, the attributes, what each one means and how it makes a page whole. And then, one will need to learn basic CSS. With an external style sheet and NO inline styling and/or presentational markup, you've covered a very large part of the accessibility issue. As long as a user can override your stylesheet, you are leaps and bounds ahead of those who have pages full of <font> and/or inline styling.

Indeed. There is no excuse for web developers to be still using tags like FONT, I, B, etc. These were depreciated seven or eight years ago. Professional web developers should also be striving to free themselves from tables. Honestly, abandoning tables is the most liberating thing I have experienced as a web developer. Personally I'm appalled when I see "professional" web developers still relying on FONT, I or B tags when they weren't even developing websites prior to 2000. There is no excuse for this.

Relying on HTML only to provide structure and using CSS to provide layout control and design opened up a whole new world of options to me. Suddenly I could make all pages of a website printer friendly with doing no more than adding one simple style sheet and creating two classes ("PrintOnly" & "NoPrint"). It even made SEO much easier because I could separate the position of objects on a rendered webpage from their position in the source code. Now the most important part of a page (e.g. the body content) is one of the first things to appear in the source code and less important things (e.g. menus) appear at the end of the source code. This works really well from an accessibility stance in that a user of a text only browser (e.g. dynamic Braille display) doesn't have to wade through menu links to get to the core content and when they have completed reading the content of a page the menu links are then provided to them to encourage them to continue on to other pages of my site.

With my home brewed CMS I use for many of my websites I don't even need to redesign the HTML source when creating new sites, I simply rearrange the design of the site using style sheets. This means I can accomplish in a half day what used to take me days to complete.

Don't get me wrong, I agree one should indeed make the effort. I can't give links here but look on the bottom of my site and you'll see the little WC3 thingy, albeit only on the core pages as I had to pay someone to get them that good. I use a WYSIWYG thingy, html is not my strongpoint.

If you are creating a personal site, I see no problem with this; however, for a professional web developer that creates commercial websites it should be unacceptable to say "HTML is not my strongpoint". After all for a web developer HTML is the profession.

On the flip side if it were shown that ADA laws do apply to the web then developers of HTML development software like the WYSIWYG editor you use would be forced to make their software better such that it did a better job of creating accessible web pages without the user of said software needing HTML to be their strong point.

Likewise, just what kind of "damages" is this kid expecting? Pray tell what *harm* he came to by not being able to shop at some specific shop?

In the case of Target, in the beginning the only "damages" being asked for was for Target to fix their site. I'm sure it progressed beyond this now to at least also cover legal expenses of the plaintiffs.

How is it more moral to FORCE a storekeeper to cater to a specific group, than to simply not provide websites that the blind can see? The blind cannot see, they are NOT equal in the seeing aspect.

The ignorant thing about this comment is that on the web it does not matter if one can see. The web is nothing more than bits of data stored in a digital format and transmitted over wires and cables. That data is interacted with via an input device (e.g. keyboard) and an output device (video monitor, dynamic Braille display, etc.). HTML and the web were DESIGNED to be device independent from the ground up. Accessibility wasn't an afterthought it was a core feature and objective from the very beginning.

The whole philosophy behind the development of HTML and CSS was to eliminate any barriers between people using different devices and with different physical abilities. It takes no more effort to design a site that is interoperable (works on different devices) and completely accessible than it does to create a site that only works correctly in MSIE using a video monitor and mouse.

Let me say this very clearly. It is inexcusable for professional web developers to create sites that require specific web browsers and/or are not accessible. Failure to make a site accessible violates the very tenants upon which the World Wide Web was designed and built.

It's ironic: if the first thing some folks had heard about accessibility was that the techniques are a reliable shortcut to better SEO, they'd be all over it thinking, "I gotta learn how to do that."

This really is the sad irony to this whole issue; making a site accessible and SEO go hand in hand. Typically the things that make a site accessible are also tremendously important to SEO objectives.

Want to read an excellent SEO Book?

[w3.org...]


This really is the best SEO source on the web.

As someone pointed out earlier, if Target had immediately started trying to change they would actually open themselves up to a lawsuit in any case.

If they had immediately started to work towards fixing their accessibility issues to begin with when those issues were raised BEFORE the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit there would have been no grounds for the lawsuit. In addition the plaintiffs did try to work with Target outside of the legal system to resolve this issue before filing the lawsuit. The goal wasn't to get lots of money out of Target. The goal was to get target to make their website assessable.

--reason for edit--
typos.

[edited by: KenB at 3:17 pm (utc) on Sep. 14, 2006]

Demaestro

WebmasterWorld Senior Member demaestro us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 3:40 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

We're talking about basic html guidelines here and nothing else. If the guidelines for developing a website were followed, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

Agreed but the question remains...... Are the guidelines for developing Websites a matter of law? Should law makers being forcing html guidlines on us. w3 is not a law making body they are a standards orginization. Please give reasons why yes if you think the law should be involved in forcing standrads on people. I think it is very a very dangerous slope to be standing on.

Offline business are required to put in curb cutouts, elevators, ramps, automatic doors, accessible bathrooms, counter areas of certain heights, etc. Requiring an online business to provide basic levels of accessibility simply levels the playing field. There are no good or justifiable reasons to render most sites inaccessible.

This is so true....... and yet with all these ways of gaining access to the pysical location how would ANY of these examples you gave help a blind person find CoCo puffs or even the cereal isle?

What do brick and mortar stores have to tell a blind person what product they are standing infront of? The answer is NONE! nothing, nadda, nathen, zero, zip. All examples giving are for the disabled but not the blind, a blind man doesn't need a curb cutouts, elevators, ramps, automatic doors, accessible bathrooms, counter areas of certain heights. So tell me what do brick and mortor stores have so that blind people can ID products on the shelves with?

Do you see brail on all the prices and products? Nope you don't, does Walmart get sued for not have brail reading price tags...No they don't so enough of the brick and mortor comparison it is not a valid argument as major brick and mortor stores have no service for the blind that equals what LAW MAKERS are discussing having legally required on your website.

Again I am all for making your site accessable to everyone and the work involved in bring your site up to scratch can be minor unless you are dealing with a high volume of pages, but still a matter of law? No way!

Discrimination? That is a stretch.

[edited by: Demaestro at 3:44 pm (utc) on Sep. 14, 2006]

Pibs

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 4:09 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

"..it should be unacceptable to say "HTML is not my strongpoint". After all for a web developer HTML is the profession."

I'm a webmaster, not a developer. I build the site how I want it then hire someone to tweak and tune it to WC3 once I'm happy enough after split-testing.

Under this standard should it be illegal for me to test a new page design? In case a blind man walks into it, so's to speak?

I agree, WYSIWYG editors should comply to standards - but in many respects it does. I can make the site look how I want, and that's how it looks to visitors. That's a standard. Pixel perfect.

Ironic that it should be illegal for me to use a WYSIWYG editor, for the "WYS" bit doesn't apply to those that cannot 'S'. Perhaps I need a WYHIWYG?

As for what the internet was founded on, it was a military thing so warmongors could communicate despite bits being broken - it wasn't developed so blind people could shop at target. That for the most part they can is a happy bonus.

Again I stress I have nothing against the principle.

P.

[edited by: encyclo at 2:23 am (utc) on Sep. 15, 2006]

buckworks

WebmasterWorld Administrator buckworks us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 4:18 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Please give reasons why yes if you think the law should be involved in forcing standrads on people. I think it is very a very dangerous slope to be standing on.

It's a nuisance for an electrician to have to take care to meet the electrical code instead of just slapping any old wires together, but the fact that electrical systems are required by law to meet certain standards is a big part of the reason we can even have this conversation.

le_gber

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 4:25 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

[...] so enough of the brick and mortor comparison it is not a valid argument as major brick and mortor stores have no service for the blind that equals [...]

I think that this is a good example as there is one issue that seem to be coming up quite often. It's the amalgamation of disable and blind. The WCGA are there to improve access to websites for the disabled, not just for the blind.

The fact that the plaintif is blind means the site was even less accessible or him than for a person who has restricted mobility. But the site would have been inaccessible for the latter as well as keyboard navigation seemed lacking.

Demaestro

WebmasterWorld Senior Member demaestro us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 4:46 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

It's a nuisance for an electrician to have to take care to meet the electrical code instead of just slapping any old wires together, but the fact that electrical systems are required by law to meet certain standards is a big part of the reason we can even have this conversation.

Wow this is the silliest line of comparison ever! A bad elecrtical job can cause fires and is a hazard to public safety and property. Electrical wiring permits aren't about standards at all they are about public safety, please don't say that a website working with a screen reader is a matter of public safety. That is the biggest stretch ever.

buckworks

WebmasterWorld Administrator buckworks us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 4:49 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

You're missing the point that the standards faciliitate all sorts of interconnectivity that wouldn't be possible if every electrical company took their own approach. The standards create value that is quite separate from the issue of safety.

Demaestro

WebmasterWorld Senior Member demaestro us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 4:53 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

le_gber I understand what you are saying, but what I am saying is there is no brick and mortar service that equals what we are talking about having e-stores do for the blind. So the comparision to brick and mortar stores isn't a valid one.

Like I said there is NO product reader for the blind REQUIRED BY LAW at ANY brick and mortor store, let alone a standard for product reading in brick and mortar stores.

So why the constent comparison? People keep saying stores have to do make consessions in the physical world for the blind to shop at stores. I am saying there are no such consessions, so these lines of parallel comparison to me seem mute. There is no legally required product reader for the blind in pysical stores. So why have it for websites?

Demaestro

WebmasterWorld Senior Member demaestro us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 4:59 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

You're missing the point that the standards faciliitate all sorts of interconnectivity that wouldn't be possible if every electrical company took their own approach. The standards create value that is quite separate from the issue of safety.

No you are missing the difference between standards and legally required safety guidelines.

It is a legally required safety guidline to make sure all live wires are secured and grounded with no bare exposures.

It is a standard to use red wiring for live and white wiring for grounds. Not legally required

However it is legally required that you have the legend of the wiring mapped out, But you can CHOOSE to not use the standard. You can CHOOSE to use green for live and black for ground. Just as long as you meet the legal guidline of mapping it.

Do you understand the difference between a standard and a legally required safety guidline?

[edited by: Demaestro at 5:01 pm (utc) on Sep. 14, 2006]

buckworks

WebmasterWorld Administrator buckworks us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 6:06 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Just as long as you meet the legal guidline of mapping it.

In other words, you can do what you want as long as you identify things clearly so people can tell what they are.

That's a big part of what accessibility concerns are about.

KenB

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 6:18 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

No you are missing the difference between standards and legally required safety guidelines.

It is a legally required safety guidline to make sure all live wires are secured and grounded with no bare exposures.

It is a standard to use red wiring for live and white wiring for grounds. Not legally required


Actually electrical codes (e.g. law) require the use of specific color codes for wiring in most areas.

With that said, I would agree that electricians are a poor comparison to web developers.

A more applicable comparable profession may be an interpreter or medical transcriptionist. In many areas these professionals are required to be licensed/certified and we would expect these individuals to maintain a specific level of professionalism.

Ideally there would be no need for laws regarding web development, but history has shown there do need to be laws to protect/enable those with disabilities. Think of how hard big companies like McDonald's fought against building the most basic levels of accessibility into their stores (e.g. curb cutouts). It was senseless, it took no more effort to add a curb cutout in the sidewalk and eliminate steps to the door when constructing new facilities, yet they fought against it every step of the way. Businesses like McDonald's did not add these basic levels of accessibility to their stores until it was mandated by law.

Given the fact of how long web development accessibility guidelines have been in existence, the fact that the WWW was designed from the ground up to be accessible and given the current state of the accessibility of sites like Target's it is all too apparent that these guidelines will not be taken seriously until they are required by law. Hopefully it can be done by applying existing laws without needing to write new laws.

Accessibility guidelines are in the end about creating more opportunities for those with disabilities like blindness, and affording them more opportunities to lead a more normal life. In short this is about basic human dignity and the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

In the end the basic levels of website accessibility asked for in the lawsuit against Target and we have been talking about here does not add any extra costs or burdens to the website development process but it would make a tremendous difference in the lives of millions of people who are blind or have other disabilities that preclude their ability to use traditional input/output devices like a mouse and video display.

Demaestro

WebmasterWorld Senior Member demaestro us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 6:57 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

In other words, you can do what you want as long as you identify things clearly so people can tell what they are.

No, quite trying to put words in my post, the reason for the mapping is a safety issue for anyone who comes along after the fact and needs to do wiring work. Again this an issue of safety of the worker, not an issue of FORCING industry standards onto businesses.

Actually electrical codes (e.g. law) require the use of specific color codes for wiring in most areas.

Actually I don't think that is the case, there may be a few states that this is true but I don't think so. I can speak for Canada when I say that color specific wires is not regualted by law.

In any event standards that are in place for public safety are law for that reason, the safety of the public. Screen readers hardly qualify as a matter of public saftey.

Accessibility guidelines are in the end about creating more opportunities for those with disabilities like blindness, and affording them more opportunities to lead a more normal life. In short this is about basic human dignity and the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Sure this is absolutely true, so I will ask again, what brick and mortar equivilent to they have for the blind to identify products or even the isles? The answer is still none. And yet they want to FORCE you to do these things on your website.

This isn't about access. Anyone can access the Target website by typing in the URL. It isn't like there is code denying entry to a blind person.

A blind person has as much access to Target's physical store as they do the website. Just once in, that person can't see any of the products or purchase them and so they will always require assitence to do so. So why force this law onto ecommerce sites and not the actual store itself? Why force this at all? And don't say access because as I have pointed out they have access.

This is a true story........

The other day I was at 7-11 getting a Slurpee and this gentleman who was in a wheelchair and seemed to have very limited control over only 1 arm( the other didn't seem to do what he wanted it to) rolled up with a huge cup on his lap. He asked if I would fill his cup with pepsi slush which I gladly did he wheeled over to the counter and had the teller remove his change purse and get the amount needed and provided him change and then hheld the door open for him.

Now do you think that it should be required by law that this man be able to accses the Slurpee machine without assitance? Should 7-11 be sued for discrimination?

Of course not.

That fact is he has limitations and so therfor requires help from others. I am all for making his life easier, there were ramps to allow him access and wide dors that made his chair easy to get through and into the store, but there is only so much 7-11 can do. They can't make everything available to him.

I am sure if a blind man came in and was all ready for a nice slush still would have had to ask someone which level was the one for pepsi. Should 7-11 be sued over Slurpee machine access?

If we go passing laws everytime someone with a disability feels slighted because he can't do something that everyone else can do then we are going to spend a lot of time and money that would be better served elsewhere.

Imagine if under this precendent someone sued an online gaming site because they don't have in game vocals describing what is on the screen. It would be insne and yet they would have legal grounds based on this judgement.

We should be helping these people and making their life easier, but like it was said already, not with a gun to our head, or more to the point, not under threat of being sued for discrimination or being prosecuted by law.

[edited by: Demaestro at 7:02 pm (utc) on Sep. 14, 2006]

Murdoch

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 7:01 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

In other words, you can do what you want as long as you identify things clearly so people can tell what they are.

Of course the whole color mapping thing would have no benefits to someone who was blind.

Then we'd have to require all the electrical maps to have braille

The question is, where is the line drawn between the rights of business owners (not government regulated occupations such as an electrician or medical transcriptionist) to pick and choose their clientele and the rights of the disabled in their "pursuit of life, liberty and happiness"?

Not being able to shop at Target will not kill you. Bad wiring or the wrong prescription will.

That being said, the current standards being requested for passing as law are not difficult, and should (IMO) be required by commercial institutions operating via the web. If it was something more critical to the design of the site such as having to use a specific language or designing a disabled-friendly sister site, then I could see room to complain. Hey what's the verdict on Javascript here anyway? Can the screen readers parse it?

There should also be some exemption criteria placed in the law as well though, or at least some kind of extension process. As mentioned some people who own commercial websites are just not tech savvy, and considering their financial status at the time they may not be able to hire a web developer to make changes. Obviously as a web designer I am biased and think it's a walk in the park. Others aren't quite so lucky so you have to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Demaestro

WebmasterWorld Senior Member demaestro us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 7:27 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

What ever happened to good old public outcry and consumer boycotting? Why do we always have to run to a court and ask for monetary compensation? If he really wanted to stick it to them he would have gone to the press, instead he went to his lawyer. I question his reasoning, and still don't feel this is a matter for lawmakers.

I am pissed at Target for being this stupid and they won't see my $$, Walmart pissed me off 10 years ago and I haven't set foot inside since. I don't care how cheap the toothpaste is. Even better is to call Target and let them know they lost your business and why.

Court and tax dollars not required.

[edited by: Demaestro at 7:27 pm (utc) on Sep. 14, 2006]

bedlam

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 8:31 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

The question is, where is the line drawn between the rights of business owners (not government regulated occupations such as an electrician or medical transcriptionist) to pick and choose their clientele and the rights of the disabled in their "pursuit of life, liberty and happiness"?

Actually as I understand the law and the issues being discussed, that is not the question. I believe that question is covered by long-settled law. In fact, I would say that this, like most of the nay-sayers in this thread, characterizes the problem in entirely the wrong way.

The existing law seems to provide that (among other things) no barriers should be erected that might prevent access by the disabled to otherwise accessible locations. It's not permissible, for example, for a business move to a new place of business that's already fully accessible--say it has a to-code wheelchair ramp--and render it less accessible--say by removing the ramp to improve the appearance of the store. I think this is relatively uncontroversial.

The web--as has been repeatedly pointed out--was intended from the outset to be accessible by a wide range of useragents with a wide range of capabilities. It was, in other words, purpose-built to be an accessible place. What's at issue here is whether or not it is permissible for web-businesses based in jurisdictions covered by the ADA to needlessly create barriers to accessibility--and as I've already mentioned in this thread, to make basic html inaccessible is the result of deliberate omissions or incompetence.*

-b

*A note to anyone who feels insulted by this word: there's nothing at all insulting about the word; for example, I'm not really a competent machinist. The point is that if I were running a business that relied in some way on machined parts, I'd have to learn or I'd have to hire somebody who is competent in that trade.

KenB

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 8:59 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

The question is, where is the line drawn between the rights of business owners (not government regulated occupations such as an electrician or medical transcriptionist) to pick and choose their clientele and the rights of the disabled in their "pursuit of life, liberty and happiness"?

In the U.S. this issue will always fall down on the side of the rights of the disabled a business can not pick and choose their clients based on the lack of physical abilities. Instead they must make reasonable accommodations for the disabled. This is what the ADA is about. Part of what defines reasonability is the burden it places upon the business. It is not unreasonable to expect curb cut outs to be built into the sidewalk in front of the entrance to a Target store. Likewise one can not reasonably argue that it places an undue burden to include appropriate ALT attributes with images (especially navigational images), to make use of LABEL tags in forms and to not disable keyboard navigation. This is all we are talking

In the instance of labeling goods in a physical store for the blind, the most reasonable accommodation may be for the store to make an employee available who can assist the individual rather than labeling all of the goods on the shelf in Braille (which most sighted people could not be sure were labeled correctly). At the same token it is very easy to make product labeling accommodations on a website by simply using the accessibility features designed into HTML & CSS in the first place.

What ever happened to good old public outcry and consumer boycotting?

A boycott would do no good when the affected group is already excluded.

Why do we always have to run to a court and ask for monetary compensation?

It should be noted that the individual/group involved in bringing this lawsuit had been trying to negotiate with Target to resolve this problem since May of 2005 and that they didn't file the lawsuit until Feb of 2006 after those negotiations broke down.

I haven't found reference to the amount of damages being requested although it does include legal fees.

If he really wanted to stick it to them he would have gone to the press, instead he went to his lawyer. I question his reasoning, and still don't feel this is a matter for lawmakers.

As has been mentioned several times in this thread they went to Target first (in May of 2005) and tried to work out a solution without the need for involving the courts. This issue was also covered in the press. It wasn't until after negotiations broke down (after 10 months) that the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and the National Federation of
the Blind of California filled a lawsuit. It should be noted that the NFB is a NON-PROFIT organization and monetary damages are not the primary thrust of this lawsuit. Beyond covering legal fees, the monetary damages part of the lawsuit appears mainly to be a stick that the NFB is using to get Target to settle the case and resolve the accessibility issues without this case needing to go to trial.

Since there has been a great deal of discussion about this but no documented references to the case I thought it was prudent to provide a link to the legal filing for this case:
[dralegal.org...]

More information about this case can be found at:
[dralegal.org...]

Murdoch

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 9:24 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

I believe that question is covered by long-settled law.

It doesn't cover where the line is drawn, because that seems to be moving everyday. Prior to this, there was a verdict handed down that the disabilities act does not cover websites.

[news.com.com ]

Now they are changing all that. Hence, line moved. I just want to know when it stops moving.

Now, again, I am IN FAVOR of the requested changes to the law. No big deal, just some alt tags and keyboard navigation. But there has to be limits. Next they'll start wanting the in-store readers like Demaestro is talking about, tomorrow everyone will have to learn braille and sign language. I'm not against giving the disabled a leg up on things but it has to stop somewhere.

I look at it this way. Suppose the website doesn't seem to have what the person is looking for in the first place. Then they could do one of two things:

A. Call customer support and ask

or

B. Shop somewhere else

Or they could even ask someone near them for some help. In some cases yes, we are "enabling" people to continue their daily routines. However, what many people are arguing here is that disabled people are incapable of finding another method, and I think that is untrue.

An alternative to (or maybe an addition to) the policy is to have a click-to-call button on the home page of a commercial website and have technology that connects the disabled person's computer to their telephone (speakerphone) so human assistance can be easily accessible.

Hey I'm trying to come up with something too. Give me credit at least for that. I just don't want to wake up in the future to everything being on a ramp and every box of cereal needing to be in braille. Give an inch, take a mile, whatever disabled or not. Technology has enabled these people's lives %10000000 percent more since half a century ago so don't tell me they still have it so rough and/or that I am discriminating against them. The only reason I am even agreeing with the current legislature (provided it is as transparent as alt tags and mouseless navigation) is that it is quite easy to implement (for me) so we shouldn't be crying about it. But now I'm discrminating against poor website owners who don't know a lick of HTML. Go figure.

KenB

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 9:49 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

But now I'm discrminating against poor website owners who don't know a lick of HTML. Go figure.

I go to an accountant to handle my accounting because I don't know tax law; I go to a stylist to cut my hair because I can't cut my own hair; I go to my car dealer to fix and maintain my car because I don't know how to do this myself; I'd hire a carpenter to make major repairs to my house because this is not my forte...

What is the difference between these and a business owner hiring a qualified web developer? Nothing. We can't be experts in everything and as such we should rely on competent professionals for those things we don't have the skills necessary to do correctly ourselves.

Demaestro

WebmasterWorld Senior Member demaestro us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 11:00 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

to make basic html inaccessible is the result of deliberate omissions or incompetence.*

Actually no.... think about the techincal aspect of it all. To make the HTML inaccessible one has to put some barriers in place as ANY website that has a DNS lookup is accessable to the public. The person in question has the same access to the HTML as any of us.

The issue isn't access, the user had access to the site, the problem was that his browser didn't function as he would have liked it to.

No barriers were put in place.

While Target is obviously grossly incompetant in this matter, they shouldn't be required by law to put alt values in their images tags.

KenB

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 11:34 pm on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Actually no.... think about the techincal aspect of it all. To make the HTML inaccessible one has to put some barriers in place as ANY website that has a DNS lookup is accessable to the public. The person in question has the same access to the HTML as any of us.

The issue isn't access, the user had access to the site, the problem was that his browser didn't function as he would have liked it to.

No barriers were put in place.


Yes barriers were put in place. For example, graphics were used in place of text based buttons (e.g. their "add to cart" buttons) with no ALT attribute being provided. In other words they replaced plain text that would be totally accessible with a graphic AND omitted an alternative plain text equivalent as is required by W3C specifications. There is no substantive reason for this graphic only an eye candy stylistic desire. Basically they intentionally sacrificed function for form and then ignored the features available to recover the lost function. This is no different then the earlier example of eliminating curb cut outs because it makes the front of the store look better.

Pibs

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 3:19 am on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Seems to me the only real "barriers" being put up here are those regarding making a website.

Someone mentioned fear due to ignorance - yep, damn right, because when it become a legal matter it rapidly devolves into something you "need" a lawyer to even understand let alone implement.

Someone mentioned that Bob's personal homepage wouldn't be affected cos it would come under 'freedom of speech'. OK, heads up, only the US, 5% of the world's population, has any "free speech" protection, secondly your sites are available to Europe and so on, thirdly, how is it less discriminatory if Peter the blind chap gets lost or messed up on Bob's site than any other?

Put it this way, if Bob opens up a personal website saying how much he hates black people, does he slide past anti-discrimination laws because he's not selling anything? No.

So where's the logic of thinking this will not, now or in the near future, hit personal sites?

If Peter's reader thingy goes all screwy and Peter cannot tell what he's doing or where he is because he hit your messy homepage, how is that less confusing, intimidating, restrictive or generally "discriminatory", if we're to use the D word in relation to not trying hard enough to cater to blind people?

Yes, laws are fear-inducing, that's the point of them. I mentioned a gun to your head, someone agreed with that and then said "more to the point" that you could be sued or fined. No, understand this point, THAT IS THE GUN TO YOUR HEAD.

Try breaking a law, then refusing to pay the fine, then refusing to be arrested and refusing to be jailed?

What's the first thing the nice policeman and his friends will do? Stick a very real, very loaded gun to your head.

Any law, no matter how minor, IS backed up by a GUN to your head. That is exactly what a law is, a rule that if necessary will be enforced at gunpoint to ensure you comply.

Think of the big robot in the first Robocop - "You have nine seconds to comply... you have six seconds to comply.."

That is what the law is. The threat of lethal force to ensure you comply, be it paying a fine, going to jail or doing what you were told in the first place - but try and resist and bottom line the gun is there.

Whenever you pass ANY law, you are pointing a gun. Period.

Further, once there's a law, there's a pack of laughing lawyers around it, making it os obscure it cannot be understood. How long before we get a 60 page fine-print document that you must comply with?

How long before the onus on providing suitable facilities falls on YOU, not the web-reader software?

Why should a blind man have to pay for special software, when the technology is there for YOU to provide the audio etc?

How long before you need a *license* to run a commercial website?

How long before you need a license to run ANY website?

How long before that undermines anything you thought you had in the way of free speech?

I'm VASTLY more in favor of letting the market handle it. We already have commercial software that can scan suitable sites, why not develop that software further? Why not put this non-profit's money to better use advising on the SEO advantages of accessability? Just the other day I got an email from some SEO site talking about the advantages of providing audio on your site, one of those little talking head things. If conventional browsers moved in the direction of speaking the site, we'd all be keen on ensuring our sites were ready for such browsers.

But instead of pushing in such directions they have targetted Target, 'negotiated' (at gunpoint) for 10 months and are now pulling the trigger, bringing the government into it.

Once a legal precedent is set, YOU are legally obliged to provide a suitable website, regardless of the site. There's a gun to your head.

Bottom line this does far more to confuse, intimidate and restrict access to the web for small webmasters than any good it does for the percentage of the population that is blind.

As populations age and their eyesight fades, as technology moves on and companies look for an edge, there are great incentives for newer better ways of presenting web data - but we just killed any innovation because now everyone must follow a strict text-based formula or they're BREAKING THE LAW.

Where there's a need the market will find a solution, faster, cheaper and better than any committee can dictate. But we just stuck a gun in the face of the market and said "Go this way or else".

Congratulations for helping the internet develop.

P.

Pibs

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 3:40 am on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

I shall not engage any further in this thread. It seems some people are upset at my viewpoint.

I often enjoy a good debate but as we're here to facilitate discussion of a helpful nature, there is little point in winning or even engaging in debate, even if I feel understanding my point of view could allow someone to see that ultimately the web is better off without being dictated to by narrow-defined standards enforced by law.

Few like to admit it but much of the technology that has driven the net forward came from porn. To me that is how it should be, the market will forever seek better ways of using the technology and is actually hampered by being forced to work in fixed ways.

That's all I need say, I'm here to learn rather than inflict my view upon those upset by them.

Have a nice day.

P.

KenB

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 5:13 am on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Someone mentioned that Bob's personal homepage wouldn't be affected cos it would come under 'freedom of speech'. OK, heads up, only the US, 5% of the world's population, has any "free speech" protection, secondly your sites are available to Europe and so on, thirdly, how is it less discriminatory if Peter the blind chap gets lost or messed up on Bob's site than any other?

Your whole fear is based on flawed logic and false premises. The ADA targets business and government interests and even then if a business is small enough it may be exempt from sections of ADA. For instance just because you rent out apartments you are not required to make any ADA accommodations to those apartments until you have a certain number of apartments you rent out. Even then not all apartments have to have ADA accommodations, only some of them do based on a clearly spelled out set of requirements.

Put it this way, if Bob opens up a personal website saying how much he hates black people, does he slide past anti-discrimination laws because he's not selling anything? No.

ADA has nothing to do with these types of discrimination laws. With that said, Bob's website would not be bound by either ADA or anti-discrimination laws. In fact his website would be fully protected by the First Amendment. Why do you think there are so many racist websites on the Internet that are hosted on U.S. based web servers?

So where's the logic of thinking this will not, now or in the near future, hit personal sites?

The ADA isn't about suppressing or regulating speech, it is about regulating the way people conduct business in the United States. Again these are laws and regulations that apply to business and government. They do not apply to private citizens not engaged in a business activity. In order to require such similar requirements for personal activities like a personal website, a whole new set of laws would have to be written and even then those laws would have a hard time surviving Constitutional challenges.

If Peter's reader thingy goes all screwy and Peter cannot tell what he's doing or where he is because he hit your messy homepage, how is that less confusing, intimidating, restrictive or generally "discriminatory", if we're to use the D word in relation to not trying hard enough to cater to blind people?

While it would be discriminatory it is generally held that we are allowed to be discriminatory in one's personal affairs. If you want to live in a house that requires walking up 100 steps to get to it that is your right (and yes I had friends who lived in such a house, it was barely accessible for anyone not really physically fit). Again the laws all revolve around how businesses conduct business not how people conduct their personal lives.

How long before the onus on providing suitable facilities falls on YOU, not the web-reader software?

Actually the onus falls on both the commercial website AND the software used to access the website. This is all very well spelled out in W3C's specifications and guidelines. If Target designed their website to W3C's accessibility guidelines but the web user failed to avail themselves of software that suited their disability needs to Target's site it would be the user's problem not Target's.

Why should a blind man have to pay for special software, when the technology is there for YOU to provide the audio etc?

In many cases said technology is subsidized for the disabled by government and/or private organizations. Also ADA only requires reasonable accommodation and assumes that the disabled individual would avail themselves of technology and/or aids needed to utilize those accommodations. For instance a blind person would need a seeing eye dog and a paralyzed person would need their own wheelchair. In the case of the web it is assumed that the blind will either make use of dynamic Braille displays that output the contents of webpages in Braille or they will use an audio screen reader which will use a voice synthesizer that "reads" the text of the page back to the user (this is some pretty amazing software).

How long before you need a *license* to run a commercial website?

Never as this would be impossible to enforce.

How long before you need a license to run ANY website?

Never because in the U.S. the 1st Amendment protects freedom of speech (even if it were possible to enforce such a law).

How long before that undermines anything you thought you had in the way of free speech?

I've seen too many discussions in various forums (not just WW) that totally misconstrue what the First Amendment does and does not protect. The first amendment of the U.S. Constitution DOES NOT PROTECT one's ability to run their business in anyway they see fit. The government can if they want establish laws that regulate commercial websites (e.g. require age verification for "adult" websites, prohibit the collection of personal information on minors, establish accessibility requirements, etc.). So while the government can require the Washington Post to make their commercial website accessible to the disabled, the Government can not tell the Washington Post what stories can or can not be published.

I'm VASTLY more in favor of letting the market handle it.

The answer to this comes from some quotes from former Republican Alaskan Governor Wally Hickel, who was a very successful business man in Alaska and a very strong believer in the free enterprise system (Wit and Wisdom of Wally Hickel ISBN# 0964431602):

"Free enterprise left totally free will destroy itself."

"We've got freedom mixed up with business. Some proponents of free enterprise talk about it as if they are saying that Catholicism is the only true religion."

He has some other really applicable quotes to your comment, but they may be seen as too political by moderators.

We already have commercial software that can scan suitable sites, why not develop that software further?

Accessibility software can only go so far; no screen reader could interpret graphics that are missing ALT attributes. In order for sites to be accessible websites AND software must implement accessiblity guidelines.

Why not put this non-profit's money to better use advising on the SEO advantages of accessability?

Because talk alone doesn't work. Talking about accessibility in the bricks and mortar world didn't convince McDonald's and other major company's that making their stores accessible to the disabled was the right thing to do. It required the drafting of laws and then enforcing those laws via lawsuits before the bricks and mortar world embraced accessibility.

Once a legal precedent is set, YOU are legally obliged to provide a suitable website, regardless of the site. There's a gun to your head.

Again you are fear mongering based on flawed logic and a false pretense. Non-commercial websites have nothing to worry about because the ADA does not apply as has been stated countless times in this thread.

Bottom line this does far more to confuse, intimidate and restrict access to the web for small webmasters than any good it does for the percentage of the population that is blind.

Again hyperbole. Such lawsuits will have no impact on the number of websites in existence or those willing to sell their web development services. At most all these lawsuits will do is force businesses, web developers and software developers to take accessibility more seriously.

As populations age and their eyesight fades, as technology moves on and companies look for an edge, there are great incentives for newer better ways of presenting web data - but we just killed any innovation because now everyone must follow a strict text-based formula or they're BREAKING THE LAW.

Once again complete hyperbole rubbish. At most it will force people to seriously reevaluate their use of inaccessible technologies like Flash and maybe take adding ALT attributes and LABEL tags more seriously.

Where there's a need the market will find a solution, faster, cheaper and better than any committee can dictate. But we just stuck a gun in the face of the market and said "Go this way or else".

This is not always true. Some of the best innovation came as a result of regulations. Look at the car industry for example. All of the greatest safety innovations in cars we drive today were directly related to regulations forced upon the car industry.

Congratulations for helping the internet develop.

In spite of your hyperbole, forcing website accessibility upon businesses will not hurt the development of the web. It will simply ensure that disabled people will be able to take part in such development.

It seems some people are upset at my viewpoint.

You seem more interested in spouting off political talking points and hyperbole (ala FOX News) than having a serious debate. Much of your point of view is based on hyperbole, serious misconceptions about what it takes to make websites accessible and false premises.

Mindy

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3075838 posted 8:06 am on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Seems to me the only real "barriers" being put up here are those regarding making a website.

Someone mentioned fear due to ignorance - yep, damn right, because when it become a legal matter it rapidly devolves into something you "need" a lawyer to even understand let alone implement.

You don't need a lawyer to build an accessible site. You simply need a developer who understands the specification for HTML/XHTML and can design reasonably valid pages. You need a developer who understands how to add correct alt text, how to create usable forms and how to semantically structure a page (e.g. use headers and lists correctly) and maybe you need someone to test that the site can be navigated with just a keyboard, that everything important works with JavaScripts disabled and, if you have the option, to run it through one or more screen readers. You should already be testing your site to make sure it works in multiple browsers, this is just a little more time to tab through your templates.

Do you want to learn how easy it is to build an accessible website from the ground up (it *is* harder when you're trying to retrofit an older site, granted)? Here's some books to look at, any one of them will give you what you need to get started:

Building Accessible Websites by Joe Clark
Constructing Accessible Websites by Jim Thatcher, et. al.
Designing with Web Standards by Jeffrey Zeldman

Have a look at Joe Clark's blog, or jimthatcher.com, or A List Apart. All of these sites will get you started. Once you start reading about accessible design, you won't be so freaked out, you'll realise that accessible design is GOOD design, and it is the first step towards design that is usable for ALL your potential users.

I wish I had the info to hand, but there is a study out there somewhere which asked both disabled and non-disabled users to perform tasks on a website before and after it had been made accessible. BOTH groups found the tasks easier to perform on the accessible site.

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