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This 209 message thread spans 7 pages: < < 209 ( 1 2 3 4 5 6 [7]     
Federal Judge Sustains Discrimination Claims Against Target.com website
Legal Precedent Set for Web Accessibility
le_gber




msg:3075840
 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.

 

Mindy




msg:3084002
 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.

Murdoch




msg:3084254
 1:41 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Alright, this thread is pretty much summed up now. I just want to cover a few bullet points that I think actually have been well construed regardless of all the back and forth.

1. Commercial websites should follow W3C accessibility guidelines

2. It's not hard for Target to comply with alt tags and keyboard navigation

3. Personal websites should be exempt from accessibility laws

However I fear that the NFB may be taking this a bit too far, as quoted recently here:

[business.bostonherald.com ]

“We want all Web sites to be accessible to blind people,” said John Pare, spokesman for the NFB.

That bothers me a bit, but we'll see how this goes forward...

Maybe I'm just taking it out of context but it certainly feels like a win here for the NFB is only going to spark further attacks on the web-owning public, commercial or not.

KenB, I agree with your sentiments mostly, and I feel, as a webmaster, that complying with the current requested guidelines is not a big deal. Hopefully if the NFB wins this they won't use it as a platform to "request" further concessions. I'd hate to see the guidelines rewritten every few years just so the disabled can have "more access". This would drive every non-tech savvy website owner nuts. The only thing I can vision in the future that I have a feeling is untrue is this:

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).

The 1st amendment does not cover how much we have to pay in order to use the "pipes" though as can be seen by the new "net neutrality" policy going into effect with the whole stupid two-tier system. It's all going to follow the money and the lobbyists. Once this initiative passes (and I have no doubt that it will) we will no longer have control over what sites load fastest, in the interest of the telecom companies raking in all the cash. Once that has been in place for a few years, the next logical step is to make every website owner register with either the telecom companies or the goverment in the next rush for the almighty consumer buck. But this is a discussion for another thread.

KenB




msg:3084274
 1:55 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

http://business.bostonherald.com/businessNews/view.bg?articleid=157428

“We want all Web sites to be accessible to blind people,” said John Pare, spokesman for the NFB.

That bothers me a bit, but we'll see how this goes forward...


I want to see all websites validate to W3C specifications, but this doesn't mean it should be legislated or that it is going to happen. I'd agree that making all sites accessible is a nice objective. With that said the moment the redirect their legal focus from commercial websites to non-commercial/non-governmental websites is the moment that they would lose a lot of the sympathy support they can leverage right now. Legal fights against the likes of Target may be very effective; however, other means are necessary to encourage small time websites to "get with the game".

The 1st amendment does not cover how much we have to pay in order to use the "pipes" though as can be seen by the new "net neutrality" policy going into effect with the whole stupid two-tier system. It's all going to follow the money and the lobbyists.

From the reading of your post I can't tell what you mean, but basically I think you are saying that if the telecoms have their way we are in deep doo doo in the U.S. and this is a sentiment that I share, but this is WAY off topic for this thread.

Demaestro




msg:3084494
 4:09 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Something that came to me also is CAPTCHAs.

With many of you saying that us being required by law to use the alt tags is a good thing I am left wondering what you are all doing to make sure that the blind can submit forms that have a CAPTCHA on your sites?

Will we soon have to make sure that our CAPTCHA have the key in the alt tag? Required by law?

How do all you feel about this? What is your solution?

Now this is what I would call a barrier. A poorly designed checkout button is just that, poorly designed, no intent to keep people out. But a CAPTCHA's very nature is to be a barrier, infact that is it's only purpose is to stop anyone who can't read the image from proceeding.

So what do we do about this?

These types of things are the reason that law should stay out of industry standards. When they pass a law saying ALL images have to have the description in the alt tag what will you do with your CAPTCHAs?

Who will pay your lawyer?

[edited by: Demaestro at 4:12 pm (utc) on Sep. 15, 2006]

pageoneresults




msg:3084497
 4:12 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

How do all you feel about this? What is your solution?

Audio Captchas

Demaestro




msg:3084501
 4:17 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Audio? A good idea, How long until you get sued by the deaf though?

pageoneresults




msg:3084510
 4:22 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Audio? A good idea, How long until you get sued by the deaf though?

You use both visual and audio CAPTCHA combined to target all.

P.S. Please, don't ask me for a solution if someone is both blind and deaf. Wait! A Braille reader. :)

Demaestro




msg:3084521
 4:29 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Both... another good idea, but if it is LAW that ALL images must use alt tag info then what will you put in the CAPTCHA image alt text? Will you pick and choose when it is convient to use alt info and when it isn't.

Will law makers anticipate these types of needs and make provisions in the laws they pass? Can they forsee all future needs to not use alt tag values while drafting the law?

I am all for using both audio and visual CAPTCHAs to accomodate all, but not by law.

Do you see why I am saying making this law is a bad thing? These aren't techies writing the laws, these are law makers who don't have the underlining knowlage of the industry, and therefor will not and can not anticipate all the different provisions that we will require to FREELY design our sites to deal with unforseen issues that arise. I don't want to be FORCED into anything.

Industry standards are best left to an org, not lawmakers. Let's be responsible and do things right as a community. Sure not everyone will get it right but those of us who do will reap the rewards.

PS
I won't ask but they are out there and they can hire lawyers so let's just pretend for the sake of argument that they don't exist. Wait isn't that what Target is getting sued for?

[edited by: Demaestro at 4:32 pm (utc) on Sep. 15, 2006]

Pibs




msg:3084523
 4:30 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Trying to keep out of it but have to say, so we are already moving into the realms of the website having to supply the audio?

Not to mention they're easier to crack automatically. Just as text can be translated into speech, speech can be translated into text. So now we have to supply audio files that spammers can walk straight past?

Yep, that's accessibility alright.


P

Pibs




msg:3084537
 4:40 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Would edit my post if I had the option rather than re-post but can someone tell me why, if the law demands audio for Turing, it could not then demand audio for everything else?

We're already creating the precendent, it's up to you to make it accesible, it's up to you to supply the audio.

Then of course we have the next problem. Should blind people really have to suffer listening to this, just to read my post:

Pibs Junior Member report msg joined:July 14, 2004 posts:159 #:3084523 Trying to keep out of it but have to say, so we are already moving into the realms of the website having to supply the audio? Not to mention they're easier to crack automatically. Just as text can be translated into speech, speech can be translated into text. So now we have to supply audio files that spammers can walk straight past? Yep, that's accessibility alright. Message Thread Options: flag it printable recommend e-a-friend start new topic reply to this topic Global Options: top of page home search site unanswered messages active posts This 189 message thread spans 7 pages: < < 189 ( 1 2 3 4 5 6 [7] ) Read Messages: This Forum: Older: iframes Terms of Service ¦ Privacy Policy ¦ Report Problem ¦ About All trademarks and copyrights held by respective owners. Member comments are owned by the poster.WebmasterWorld and PubCon are Registered Trademarks of WebmasterWorld Inc. BestBBS v4.00 (c) WebmasterWorld Inc. 1997-2006 all rights reserved

?

Next step, we must remove all such clutter or tag such text in some way to prevent it being repeated to a cookie user or something?

Where does it end?

P.

KenB




msg:3084873
 9:12 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Both... another good idea, but if it is LAW that ALL images must use alt tag info then what will you put in the CAPTCHA image alt text? Will you pick and choose when it is convient to use alt info and when it isn't.

There isn't a law that states one MUST use ALT attributes with all images. There is a law called the American's with Disabilities Act that basically states that businesses must make reasonable accommodations for the disabled. This law was written before the Internet became an issue so it doesn't directly address web issues.

With that said the ALT attribute is simply the easiest means in most cases to make a site accessible with CAPTHAs one could provide an audio alternative OR some dynamically changing text alternative like maybe a mathematical equation. A mathematical equation would solve the deaf and blind person concern while still addressing the concern about automated spammers. Heck a math equation that was written out (e.g. two plus three times sixteen) could even address those spammers that employ cheap labor in some impoverished third world country (or China) to sit and fill out forms all day as their English skills might not be good enough to read the problem let alone solve it.

==EDIT==

People shouldn't get caught up with being required to provide an audio alternative. There is no need for an audio alternative of webpages to make them accessible. The software used by the disabled can convert text into audio words for the user and many disabled people prefer to use a dynamic Braille display rather than audio.

Really the most important thinges you need to do is simply make sure that there are text descriptions of images via the ALT attributes, that forms use the LABEL tag to tie form field descriptions/titles to their associated form field and that your pages and forms can be navigated via a keyboard. Do these three things and you've covered most of your bases.

[edited by: KenB at 9:19 pm (utc) on Sep. 15, 2006]

Demaestro




msg:3084938
 10:16 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

There isn't a law that states one MUST use ALT attributes with all images. There is a law called the American's with Disabilities Act that basically states that businesses must make reasonable accommodations for the disabled. This law was written before the Internet became an issue so it doesn't directly address web issues.

No there isn't any such law but many are saying here that forcing people to have alt values should be a matter of law. And your point about that law being written before the Internet is an awesome point, a point that this law didn't envision this scenario and new laws reguarding the internet and the visually impaired need to be written in rather then using old law that should only apply to physical store locations as that is what it was indended for and trying to fit this real world model over a digital world doesn't work. And for the reason you stated, they couldn't have envisioned this scerario and if they could have what provisions in law would they have made? We don't knwo since new law isn't being written and instead old law is being forced onto a model for which it was not indended.

People shouldn't get caught up with being required to provide an audio alternative. There is no need for an audio alternative of webpages to make them accessible. The software used by the disabled can convert text into audio words for the user and many disabled people prefer to use a dynamic Braille display rather than audio.

If judgements are being made agaisnt people for not using alt tag values in images as they are a from of a barrier then you better believe that CAPTHAs need to be re-thought and that a way for the blind to proceed when presented with a CAPTHA is required.


Really the most important thinges you need to do is simply make sure that there are text descriptions of images via the ALT attributes

Exactly and I would say 99.99% of CAPTHAs are an image that needs to be viewed by human eyes to parse as they are intended to stop readers froom getting past them.

You are contridicting yourself. On one hand you say that you don't need to worry about CAPTHAs and on the other you are saying you need alt tag values.

So if we are to put the key of the CAPTHA into the alt tag then how long before bots are taught to use that to submit a form hidden behind a CAPTHA? I would say an hour or two at the most.

Also all other solutions for CAPTHAs given here are weak at best as bots can be taught to get the needed info to proceed from all the above suggestions. You think a computer can't do a math problem? I bet the compter gets the math CAPTHA right more then humans do.

[edited by: Demaestro at 10:17 pm (utc) on Sep. 15, 2006]

KenB




msg:3084965
 10:54 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

@Demaestro

I think you misread the meaning or gist of my post.

Read it again but first clear your head of your preconceived notion of what I am saying.

1) Yes ADA was written before the WWW was a factor. This does not mean that the ADA does not apply. It is a fallacy to try and say that the Internet is not part of the real world. It is a part of the real world and an important means of communication just like the telephone is. In the case of Target, there are in store discounts that can ONLY be acquired via their website. Thus a bricks and mortar service/opportunity is being denied to blind people because of their inability to access part of Target's overall services. This is exactly what the ADA was written for. BTW, it is not at all uncommon for old laws to be applied to new situations.

2) RE CAPTCHAs:
2-a) When I stated "people shouldn't get caught up with being required to provide an audio alternative," I was not referring to law; I was referring to people's state of mind. People seem to instantly assume that the primary output device that blind people use is their computer speakers. In fact they can also use things like a dynamic Braille display.

2-b) I did not mean that people did not need to worry about making CAPTCHA's accessible I simply meant that an ALT attribute description of the letters and numbers in the CAPTCHA may not be the best way to provide the accessibility needed.

2-c) RE Rethinking CAPTCHAs: a visual e.g. graphical CAPTCHA can be still used as long as an alternative method is also provided to convey the same information. For instance Blogger provides an audio CAPTCHA. One way to merge the two would be to turn the graphical CAPTCHA into a hyperlink with an alt text that basically states to access link to hear audio version.

2-d) RE Alternatives to graphical CAPTCHAs: What you so conveniently skipped was the fact that I suggested using a completely accessible alternative to graphical and audio CAPTCHAs. My suggestion was to use text only mathematical equation or other randomly changing simple logic problem. One advantage to this is that for smaller one-off websites this may be much easier to implement than the graphical/audio CAPTCHA method. BTW I can't take credit for this idea I saw someone suggest it on Matt Cutts' blog.

2-e) RE bots beating CAPTCHAs: Yes some bots will be able to beat CAPTCHAs. This doesn't mean they aren't valid. They still reduce the amount of bots that successfully get past a form. I personally simply started renaming the input fields of my forms such that bots couldn't fill them out correctly and then reject forms with goofed up information (e.g. email address in the name field). Now my solution wouldn't work for Blogger or with vBulletin, but for small sites very simple one off solutions can be very effective as it is not practical or profitable to train bots to get passed every one off solution.

Demaestro




msg:3084973
 11:07 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Yes ADA was written before the WWW was a factor. This does not mean that the ADA does not apply.

No of course not, I am saying that it shouldn't apply and should be brought up to current date to consider these techincal issues properly.


When I stated "people shouldn't get caught up with being required to provide an audio alternative," I was not referring to law; I was referring to people's state of mind. People seem to instantly assume that the primary output device that blind people use is their computer speakers. In fact they can also use things like a dynamic Braille display.

No you are missing the point, it doesn't matter how the reader presents the info braile or sound, the fact is that the CAPTCHA image can not be read by the parser without alt tag info, if alt tag info is provided then it isn't a CAPTCHA as any bot would be able to proceed.

Also I don't want ANY bot to use my forms and emailing as that is bad for my processers and many other problems, like getting arked as a spammer for realying emails

Beagle




msg:3084987
 11:34 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Demaestro - It doesn't sound as if you understand how the alternative CAPCHAs work. Might not be a bad idea to check that out before you say more about them.

KenB




msg:3085010
 11:57 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Also I don't want ANY bot to use my forms and emailing as that is bad for my processers and many other problems, like getting arked as a spammer for realying emails

I don't use CAPTCHAs on my site and have been able to completely stop bots from accessing my forms without creating any accessiblity problems. The fact of the matter is that most bots are really stupid and clumsy. All it takes is providing misleading names in the NAME attribute and ID attribute to completly fool the bots. For instance name the subject field "email" in the NAME and ID attributes. If you end up with an email address in the subject field you will know it is a bot and the form should be ignored.

Pibs




msg:3085125
 4:44 am on Sep 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

"For instance name the subject field "email" in the NAME and ID attributes. If you end up with an email address in the subject field you will know it is a bot and the form should be ignored."

Would that not be confusing for automated readers as well?

It seems to me that by definition the law demands some means for an automated system to be able to do what the blind cannot - "see" the screen. The moment you make it accessible to an automated reader you make it accessible to an automated reader that has malicious intent.

As for the idea that the general public can read an answer on the screen but that the blind must do a math equation, I can see THAT itself being flagged up as you "discriminating against the blind". So we could end up having to make everyone use a math equation, which means automated bots would rapidly develop to do exactly that.

Nor has anyone touched on my point regarding the sheer volume of fluff on most screens. Is it not likely that some demand be made that we differenciate between:

"A federal district court judge ruled yesterday..."

and:

"Forum Moderators: DrDoc & encyclo & pageoneresults
Discussion: Federal Judge Sustains Discrimination Claims Against Target.com website Legal Precedent Set for Web Accessibility
Please enter your reply below...Scroll down to review the previous messages. Message Body: Style Codes are on. Please review our Posting Guidelines..." etc?

By the way, a test on webmasters word:

This page is not Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional!
Below are the results of attempting to parse this document with an SGML parser.

Error Line 18 column 138: there is no attribute "HEIGHT".
...ng="1" border="0" width="97%" height="95"><tr><td bgcolor="#e8e8f4" height="1

So the biggest, oldest, most established forum of webmaster experts can't get it right but you support a law that such sites be sued, right?

Let's try this actal page:

This page is not Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional!
Below are the results of attempting to parse this document with an SGML parser.

Error Line 17 column 138: there is no attribute "HEIGHT".
...ng="1" border="0" width="97%" height="95"><tr><td bgcolor="#e8e8f4" height="1

Error Line 36 column 108: required attribute "ALT" not specified.
...g" align="left" hspace="8" vspace="4">
The attribute given above is required for an element that you've used, but you have omitted it. For instance, in most HTML and XHTML document types the "type" attribute is required on the "script" element and the "alt" attribute is required for the "img" element.

Error Line 120 column 110: required attribute "ALT" not specified.
... hspace="10" border="0" align="right">

Error Line 125 column 2: document type does not allow element "P" here; missing one of "APPLET", "OBJECT", "MAP", "IFRAME", "BUTTON" start-tag.
<p>
The mentioned element is not allowed to appear in the context in which you've placed it; the other mentioned elements are the only ones that are both allowed there and can contain the element mentioned. This might mean that you need a containing element, or possibly that you've forgotten to close a previous element.

Error Line 134 column 2: document type does not allow element "P" here; missing one of "APPLET", "OBJECT", "MAP", "IFRAME", "BUTTON" start-tag.
<p>

Error Line 144 column 2: document type does not allow element "P" here; missing one of "APPLET", "OBJECT", "MAP", "IFRAME", "BUTTON" start-tag.
<p>

Error Line 148 column 7: document type does not allow element "CENTER" here; missing one of "APPLET", "OBJECT", "MAP", "IFRAME", "BUTTON" start-tag.
<center>

Error Line 172 column 2: document type does not allow element "P" here; missing one of "APPLET", "OBJECT", "MAP", "IFRAME", "BUTTON" start-tag.
<p>
&#9993;

Error Line 175 column 3: document type does not allow element "UL" here; missing one of "APPLET", "OBJECT", "MAP", "IFRAME", "BUTTON" start-tag.
<ul>
&#9993;

Error Line 186 column 2: document type does not allow element "P" here; missing one of "APPLET", "OBJECT", "MAP", "IFRAME", "BUTTON" start-tag.
<p>
&#9993;

Error Line 196 column 4: end tag for "FONT" omitted, but its declaration does not permit this.
</td></tr>
You forgot to close a tag, or
you used something inside this tag that was not allowed, and the validator is complaining that the tag should be closed before such content can be allowed.

Info Line 121 column 0: start tag was here.
<font size="2" face="verdana">


Well I'm glad it's just a matter of adding ALT text and any moron can do it.

P.

KenB




msg:3085417
 2:26 pm on Sep 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

Would that not be confusing for automated readers as well?

No because the NAME and ID attributes should never be presented to humans as these can be what ever junk the web developer needs to use. Automated readers should only be presenting TITLE and ALT attributes to the user. This is a properly formatted form field:

<label for="email">Message Subject:</label><input type="text" name="email" id="email" width="40" title="Please enter the subject of your message." />

In this instance the TITLE attribute is optional but a nice touch. ANY valid HTML instructions can separate the label from the input field as they are tied together via the FOR and ID attributes. The INPUT tag can also be nested within the LABEL tag if desired although the FOR and ID attributes should still be used.

It seems to me that by definition the law demands some means for an automated system to be able to do what the blind cannot - "see" the screen. The moment you make it accessible to an automated reader you make it accessible to an automated reader that has malicious intent.

Bots normally try to sleuth out which form field is what via the NAME attribute totally ignoring labels tags and TITLE attributes. So making a form/website more accessible does not necessarily make it easier for malicious bots to fill out forms.

Making a site more accessible and easier to navigate does improve the ability of all bots (good and bad) to navigate the site, which can be very good from an SEO perspective.

As for the idea that the general public can read an answer on the screen but that the blind must do a math equation, I can see THAT itself being flagged up as you "discriminating against the blind". So we could end up having to make everyone use a math equation, which means automated bots would rapidly develop to do exactly that.

Form filling bad bots would have to become a lot more smarter than they are and given the one off nature of how this could be implemented there could be way too many permeations of the implementation of the mathematical equation idea for those form filling bots to accommodate except for the most common/high profile web applications (e.g. Word Press or vBulletin). The bots are never going to be very successful at picking off one off solutions on independent and "lower" profile sites. It just wouldn't be cost effective for spammers to try and accommodate every permeation. Spammers aren't trying for a 100% success rate, they are simply trying for as high of a success rate as they can easily accomplish. This is why one off tricks work so well and I am able to get away with CAPTCHA free forms.

By the way, a test on webmasters word:

This page is not Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional!

This is sad but doesn't surprise me at all. Validating code isn't taken seriously enough by developers of forum software. With that said, one doesn't have to produce valid code to make a site accessible; it just makes the process much easier. As long as the text shows up in a logical fashion images have ALT attributes forms use LABEL tags and one can navigate via a keyboard a site can be fairly accessible even with validation errors.

You can review WW in text only mode in Opera by turning off style sheets and images and using the "small screen" option under the "view" menu. If you do this you will see that threads do display in a fairly logical fashion and while not the "prettiest" rendering in the world it is still completely usable.

Pibs




msg:3085608
 4:48 pm on Sep 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

Generally I'm in favor of the principle, it's the implementation and most importantly the notion of being a legal requirement that bothers me.

Regarding tags other tha 'ALT" I don't know HTML so cannot comment on your point about forms - I just wonder how a human, using an automated reader, and a malicious automated reader, are going to go in different directions. The very idea strikes me as illogical. Saying "We won't reveal this to the reader" means you're not revealing it to the blind human who's trying to read either.

I'm not sure if that's a technical point I haven't grasped or something so obvious I don't need to..

Again, even if we do somehow solve this specific issue, it's an indicator of other such things that can crop up once you have a law. As I say, laws have a habit of building on previous laws, often just to correct the problems created by the first one. That, right there, is my main concern. Not so much that a few select major-brand superstores might be slapped - pointing out anything specific to Target is irrelevant for it applies to all - but that like so many other things it will grow and grow with all manner of unintended consequences.

For a start, do we have a legal standard for what is classed as a reader for the blind? Without any such standard, how on Earth can we possibly meet it? We might make our site perfect but some specialist browsers don't work - so then we need another law specifying what a browser must do.

With every step we're stifling innovation while imposing costs and putting people at risk of becoming criminals, some of whom WILL be prosecuted and have their business, if not their lives, ruined. If only after being reported by a zealous competitor.

If the case precendent is set it is no longer a civil matter, it becomes a criminal offence to run a site that doesn't meet said regulations. So it does not require a single visit from a blind person let alone a complaint, just a tip-off to the police could do it.

A "slippery slope" is a potential debate fallacy - that Action A occurs need not necesarily *cause* Action B to occur. But any student of legal history can tell you that certain things can indeed be expected. That regulations will become ever more complex and demanding to the point of becoming incomprehensible is pretty much a slam dunk.

I feel that for a short-term gain (warm fuzzies and increased publicity of the issue) by bringing legal regulations into it we're basically demanding that the layout, design and content of websites be regulated by pen-pushers looking for something to do to justify their jobs. That's a recipe for disaster in the long term.

I guess sooner or later the powers that be would find a crack in the freedom of the net. That doesn't take away the sting of knowing we just handed it to them on a plate.

Oh well. Carry on. :o(

P.

KenB




msg:3086182
 5:39 am on Sep 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

Regarding tags other tha 'ALT" I don't know HTML so cannot comment on your point about forms - I just wonder how a human, using an automated reader, and a malicious automated reader, are going to go in different directions. The very idea strikes me as illogical. Saying "We won't reveal this to the reader" means you're not revealing it to the blind human who's trying to read either.

I'm not sure if that's a technical point I haven't grasped or something so obvious I don't need to..


Okay I'll try to clear this up. Maybe it will help people understand how things work a little bit better. A dynamic Braille display and/or screen reader (which is software that translates written text into spoken words) basically "see" the webpage the same way a text only browser would. This means the order in which text is written in the HTML source is the same order it is rendered back to the user. Using a text only browser like Lynx is a great way to see how a disabled person might interact with a webpage.

For the purposes of this discussion in regards to the INPUT tag, which is used for form fields there are three basic attributes that get used; these attributes are: NAME, ID, and TITLE. The LABEL tag is used to associate text descriptions to specific form fields and has one commonly used attribute, which is the FOR attribute.

The NAME, ID and FOR attributes of the LABEL and INPUT tags are NEVER supposed to be rendered back to the user by their browser/screen reader. These fields are to only be used by the browser for the purposes of identifying the INPUT tag, associating the contents of specific LABEL tags back to specific INPUT tags and for feeding completed forms back to the server. The TITLE attribute is intended to be rendered back to the user anytime the tag that contains this attribute has the focus (e.g. user tabbed to the field in question via the keyboard or moved the mouse over the field in question).

So in the example I gave earlier:

<label for="email">Message Subject:</label><input type="text" name="email" id="email" width="40" title="Please enter the subject of your message." />

A screen reading program, dynamic Braille display or normal browser would know to associate the phrase "Message Subject:" to its relevant field because of the FOR attribute of the LABEL tag is the same text as the text that is placed in the ID attribute of the INPUT tag (for="email" == id="email"). A screen reader might read the code above back to the user as:

"Message subject input, title please enter the subject of your message."

The screen reader would then pause for the user to type in the appropriate text and then hit the tab key to let the software know to continue. The FOR and ID attributes would not be read back to the user because these are instructions for the software to use not for the user.

Once the user was finished filling out the form and the form was submitted back to the server the contents the user typed into each INPUT tag would be sent back to the server using the text in the NAME attribute as the variable name for each form field. The scripts on the server would then process these variables and extract the information they contain.

Bad bots that try to automatically respond to forms (e.g. to send spam via the contact form) would look at the INPUT tag code above and try to sleuth out the field's intended purpose via the NAME attribute. In all likelihood the bad bot would be programmed to assume that if the NAME attribute was "email" that an email address should be entered into this form. So when the bad bot tried to automatically submit the form it would feed in an email address for that input value (which would be totally wrong).

Since we know that all humans would see the INPUT tag in question labeled as "message subject" but automated "bad bots" would see the INPUT tag named as "email", the server could be programmed to reject any form submission that contained an email address in the "email" variable. Again a real human would have entered a message subject and would have never inadvertently entered an email address.

Another solution that could be used to stop bad bots would be to use gibberish INPUT tag names to pass the contents of forms back to the server. In these instances the bad bot will oftentimes leave said fields blank or the bad bot will try to "guess" what information should be put in the field and get things totally wrong. A simple validation of the data could be done to reject forms that were filled out incorrectly.

I hope this helps clarifies how forms are rendered back to users and "seen" by automated processes in different ways and how these differences can be exploited to stop bad bots without causing problems for users.

For a start, do we have a legal standard for what is classed as a reader for the blind? Without any such standard, how on Earth can we possibly meet it? We might make our site perfect but some specialist browsers don't work - so then we need another law specifying what a browser must do.

While these are not part of a law written by government, the "Web Accessibility Initiative" (WAI) and the "Web Content Accessibility Guidelines" (WCAG) published by the W3C, which is the recognized standards organization for web standards, are considered to be industry standard best practices. As such they would be relied upon in a court of law for the accessibility standard a site would need to adhere to if it were determined that the ADA did apply to commercial websites. Information on these guidelines can be found at [w3.org ]. There are also "User Agent Accessibility Guidelines" (UAAG), which spell out what is expected from web browsers (including screen readers and dynamic Braille displays).

With every step we're stifling innovation while imposing costs and putting people at risk of becoming criminals, some of whom WILL be prosecuted and have their business, if not their lives, ruined. If only after being reported by a zealous competitor.

Historically speaking these types of concerns about something harming innovation have always proven to be unfounded. People are by nature innovators and innovation is rarely stifled by this type of law. In this case laws addressing accessibility would just force innovators to be mindful of the needs of the disabled while they are creating their new products. Thinking about accessibility issues up front can save a tremendous amount of time and effort later on trying to fix accessibility problems. Being as inclusive as possible is always a good way to broaden market appeal, however, sometimes people don't think about accessibility issues until it is too late.

If the case precendent is set it is no longer a civil matter, it becomes a criminal offence to run a site that doesn't meet said regulations. So it does not require a single visit from a blind person let alone a complaint, just a tip-off to the police could do it.

Actually the ADA is handled under civil law not criminal law. Like copyright law infringements these types of cases have to be brought by the harmed party via a lawsuit. One would not see the police getting involved in such a case.

That regulations will become ever more complex and demanding to the point of becoming incomprehensible is pretty much a slam dunk.

I will grant you this one. Tax law is a great example of this. It does not; however, mean that laws shouldn't be written, it just means that Congress needs to exercise a lot more care in writing laws AND needs to focus some efforts on simplifying/cleaning up the legal code. Unfortunately this doesn't make for "exciting" headlines that politicians can use to garner votes back home.

I feel that for a short-term gain (warm fuzzies and increased publicity of the issue) by bringing legal regulations into it we're basically demanding that the layout, design and content of websites be regulated by pen-pushers looking for something to do to justify their jobs. That's a recipe for disaster in the long term.

This is a way overblown statement. IF one follows W3C's HTML and CSS specifications and moves towards developing sites where CSS handles site design and the HTML handles site structure, site design and accessibility considerations will have almost no impact on each other. I think there is a site called the Zen of CSS that demonstrates this very well. My own site also demonstrates this separation very well.

My site handles all design considerations via CSS and I can totally change the design of my site for different devices using the MEDIA attribute of the STYLE tag to specify different style sheets for different devices/purposes. As a result when one of my pages is printed it renders in a completely different fashion than it is displayed on screen (menus, ads, etc. do not print and layout is changed to be more printer friendly). At the same time by using yet another MEDIA attribute declaration I instruct dynamic Braille displays to pull yet another stylesheet that turns on specific on page navigation menus that are hidden from graphical browsers to make navigating within my individual pages easier.

It should be noted that accessibility and the content of websites have little to no bearing on each other. Also being accessible doesn't mean that a page has to be "pretty" when rendered to the disabled. For instance the on page navigation menus I provide for dynamic Braille displays and screen readers (but hide from regular browsers) are only suggested, not required features via W3C's accessibility guidelines.

I guess sooner or later the powers that be would find a crack in the freedom of the net.

I'm sorry but this is an overblown statement. Making a site accessible or even being required to make a site accessible does not take away any freedom. If any thing they help broaden freedoms for those who are frequently put at distinct disadvantages in society and/or discriminated against.

Pibs




msg:3086258
 8:45 am on Sep 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

I agree, the crack is not a big gaping hole, my point is it can easily become one once we start inviting government to regulate site design.

As for "overblown" I'd say accusing Target of actively "discriminating against blind people" is overblown.

Claiming you've been "harmed" by not being able to shop on a single specific website on the World Wide Web is "overblown".

Taking said site to court to SUE them, that's overblown.

Regulations demanding a fixed standard always stifle innovation - that's what they're for! It's pretty much the definition of stifling to say "You must do it this way... BY LAW"

Adding extra stuff on top only works up to the point someone notices that you're 'discriminating against blind people' and you're breaking the law again.

As for being a civil matter, this is not the same as copyright if the legal precedent is set. It will basically establish that website developers must meet a legal requirement - I don't see how you can say "My website is illegal but only if someone bothers to sue me"?

Either W3C is a legal requirement or it is NOT a legal requirement.

OK, perhaps we can clarify, in case US law is different from UK - if a store does not provide wheelchair access and so on, under such laws as ADA or whatever, are they only ever prosecuted if someone actually sues or are they subject to government inspection?

Because if the store owner can be fined as a result of a government inspection then a website store owner can be fined as a result of government inspection, there is absolutely no difference if applying the same law.

Thank you for the technical stuff on forms. Sounds like it could be useful for websites in general, with or without any accessibility issues? My only concern is that such forms usually have a standard layout, - your name, your email, the title/subject and the message entry, in that order. Regarding usuability issues, as opposed to accessibility issues, changing that order could be a problem for the typical surfer, who has the attention span of a gnat.

P

KenB




msg:3086520
 5:33 pm on Sep 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

As for being a civil matter, this is not the same as copyright if the legal precedent is set. It will basically establish that website developers must meet a legal requirement - I don't see how you can say "My website is illegal but only if someone bothers to sue me"?

I think what you misunderstand is where the responsibility for enforcement primarily lays. Building codes are not normally enforced by the police; they are enforced by code enforcement officers or building inspectors. They do not have the law enforcement powers of police. In regards to the accessibility of buildings these issues are covered in building codes adopted by local municipalities, and thus when accessibility issues are addressed by building inspectors it is done in relation to building codes not ADA. Although local municipalities adopt local building codes, these codes are normally based upon universal building codes which are developed in large part by input from the building industry (e.g. the National Association of Home Builders), associations that represent emergency services (e.g. the National Fire Prevention Association) and the insurance industry.

Also, I am not saying that an act is not illegal unless someone sues; I am saying that how a civil law is enforced vs. a criminal law is very different.

With physical buildings companies can protect themselves against lawsuits under ADA using building codes and adhering to those codes as they provide a standard of practice. If a disable person or organization feels that a building is not accessible, in terms of the ADA but the building is up to code then the individual/organization must labor to change the applicable building codes.

If and when case law is finally established that commercial websites are also subject to ADA requirements, website owners will be able to rely on W3C specifications and guidelines as the "building codes" for websites as the W3C is accepted and respected as the standards body for the WWW in regards to HTML, XHTML, CSS, accessibility etc.

OK, perhaps we can clarify, in case US law is different from UK - if a store does not provide wheelchair access and so on, under such laws as ADA or whatever, are they only ever prosecuted if someone actually sues or are they subject to government inspection?

In the United States building inspections are handled at the local level by code enforcement officers and building inspectors during the construction process or when major modifications are made. At other times a deputy state fire marshal or official from the local fire department will do periodic inspections of public/commercial buildings. Again the laws that are enforced are building codes that take ADA requirements into consideration.

While the primary focus of inspections by fire marshals and fire departments revolve around life/fire safety, there is a tremendous amount of overlap between these issues and ADA concerns in building/fire safety codes. For example for fire safety reasons hallways and isle ways must be kept clear and must meet certain minimum widths. So while a store would need to keep isles wide enough for wheelchair access this is also required to ensure that ALL people can quickly and safely leave a building in the event of fire. Likewise, there is very specific types of hardware that are required for exit doors on building with greater than a specific occupancy. This is to ensure that doors will easily open in a panic situation with people pressing up against the door trying to escape a building. This same door hardware would also be necessary under ADA to help make a building more accessible to disabled individuals. So in the end many building design considerations serve a dual purpose of accessibility for the disabled AND life safety for everyone.

Thank you for the technical stuff on forms. Sounds like it could be useful for websites in general, with or without any accessibility issues? My only concern is that such forms usually have a standard layout, - your name, your email, the title/subject and the message entry, in that order. Regarding usuability issues, as opposed to accessibility issues, changing that order could be a problem for the typical surfer, who has the attention span of a gnat.

Yes these technical stuff that help make forms more accessible also makes them more useful to all users. For instance, when LABEL tags are used to associate text descriptions to their form field users of browsers like MSIE and Firefox can click on the text of the text description for the form field to highlight the input box itself. This also allows for the use of CSS to change the styling of the form field label when the associated field has focus. This can really increase the usability of forms for all users.

There is no need to change the order of fields from what ever order one feels is the most usable. There is enough diversity with the order in which fields are laid out between different forms that bad bots don't really rely on the order of fields to determine what data to put in them. Personally I discovered that by using gibberish variable names for my forms I could stop bad bots cold because they would leave fields with gibberish names in the NAME attribute blank thus submitting empty forms that could be ignored by the server.

The thing about accessibility requirements is that while the idea is to make things more accessible to disabled individuals they also help improve accessibility and in the case of buildings improve life safety for non-disabled individuals as well. This is the really sad thing about accessibility; it should be a totally non-issue.

Professional developers should be following best design/development practices to improve the usability of their sites for all users in general. If this was done accessibility concerns would be naturally addressed. The problem is that too often site development is driven by graphic designers and marketers who always place style ahead of substance. Too often graphic designers become totally consumed by their desire to make things pretty and don't stop to think about how they could better implement their design objectives to better accommodate functionality and usability issues.

Mindy




msg:3087230
 12:21 pm on Sep 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Then of course we have the next problem. Should blind people really have to suffer listening to this, just to read my post:

Pibs Junior Member report msg joined:July 14, 2004 posts:159 #:3084523 Trying to keep out of it but have to say, so we are already moving into the realms of the website having to supply the audio? Not to mention they're easier to crack automatically. Just as text can be translated into speech, speech can be translated into text. So now we have to supply audio files that spammers can walk straight past? Yep, that's accessibility alright. Message Thread Options: flag it printable recommend e-a-friend start new topic reply to this topic Global Options: top of page home search site unanswered messages active posts This 189 message thread spans 7 pages: < < 189 ( 1 2 3 4 5 6 [7] ) Read Messages: This Forum: Older: iframes Terms of Service ¦ Privacy Policy ¦ Report Problem ¦ About All trademarks and copyrights held by respective owners. Member comments are owned by the poster.WebmasterWorld and PubCon are Registered Trademarks of WebmasterWorld Inc. BestBBS v4.00 (c) WebmasterWorld Inc. 1997-2006 all rights reserved

This is a good point. One which should be answered.

Sites have to do what is reasonable to make themselves accessible. Obviously a site for online flash games is simply never going to be accessible to someone with mobility issues who cannot react quickly or someone who cannot see the screen. Nobody would expect a game to not be uploaded simply because of these issues. What would be expected was that the flash object had appropriate alt attributes explaining what it was, or instructions describing the necessary controls so that someone with a disability could judge whether or not they could play.

In the same way, a blind consultant that we had do some testing for us said that forums are, by their very nature, a pain. He sticks to mailing lists or IM for that reason. He reckoned that by virtue of the format they were going to have a lot of noise, because things like quoting and dates, etc. were always going to be necessary. Again, as long as it was possible for someone with a screen reader to access the forum and read the content, there is not much a site owner can do to change the nature of what a forum is.

Bearing that in mind, a forum constructed in a simple data table would enable someone navigating using a screen reader to move down a column cell by cell so he could simply read the content cell, if it was not too confusing, and if necessary then back up into the cell containing the author's information. I have successfully navigated a pHpBB forum with JAWS without the monitor. It can be done. It's a pain, but it can be done.

Demaestro




msg:3087456
 3:28 pm on Sep 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Beagle.... I understand how some of the alternative CAPCHAs work.

I am a software developer, all I do is write code that runs on the Internet.

So if you could please point me at the solution you seem sure exists that would make it so that a computer can read the screen to a seeing impaired human so the human can proceed past the form, but also making it so that another computer reading it to itself can't proceed through the same form...... I would honestly love to hear it. I am just not seeing it.

Even if you could just give me the implementation that you have in mind that solves this problem.

[edited by: Demaestro at 3:29 pm (utc) on Sep. 18, 2006]

encyclo




msg:3087520
 4:07 pm on Sep 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Mod note: I have started a new discussion specifically about building accessible web forms:

[webmasterworld.com...]

Murdoch




msg:3102296
 6:12 pm on Sep 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

I know we haven't talked about this in a while but I've been following the news reports on this and I thought this one was interesting especially this part:

It limits the abilities of us, Web designers, to create better user interfaces, Meng said. We have to step back to a lower common denominator of design.

For example, Adobe would have to address the issue because the company’s technology is being used on more and more sites and it’s not ADA compliant, he said.

[thepbj.com ]

KenB




msg:3102396
 7:08 pm on Sep 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

It limits the abilities of us, Web designers, to create better user interfaces, Meng said. We have to step back to a lower common denominator of design.

For example, Adobe would have to address the issue because the company’s technology is being used on more and more sites and it’s not ADA compliant, he said.

These are red herring arguments that the technically uninformed fall for. There is no need to fall back to the "lowest common denominator" one simply needs to have a solid grasp on how to use the technologies correctly. An example would be HTML tables. Everyone thinks that tables aren't accessible, but as this WW thread [webmasterworld.com] shows tables can be made to be completely accessible.

The reason people have problems with accessiblity is because they don't understand the technologies they are using.

Murdoch




msg:3102430
 7:28 pm on Sep 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

I was really more interested about the second part, where it talks about Adobe products (such as PDFs) not being ADA compliant but I know what you mean. I think sites that are made completely from Flash or even Javascript are lame, and I see so many web design companies getting some serious wake up calls when they learn that they can't build those sites anymore. We've had a couple of quotes from Flash site companies and not only are they much more expensive to produce but as someone who's been doing SEO for a while now you know you might as well put a noindex tag on your homepage.

I guess my real question is, do the software companies whose products get used on the web have the same duty to make them ADA compliant as the webmasters who use them? Or will the PDF suddenly find itself going the way of the dodo OR will screen readers start adopting some kind of OCR technology?

KenB




msg:3102444
 7:43 pm on Sep 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

I guess my real question is, do the software companies whose products get used on the web have the same duty to make them ADA compliant as the webmasters who use them? Or will the PDF suddenly find itself going the way of the dodo OR will screen readers start adopting some kind of OCR technology?

Yes software companies have the same duty to make their products ADA compliant and many are getting much better at this. Even Adobe Acrobat and Flash are making great strides in accessiblity (at least they provide the potential for greater accessiblity).

Again the content developer needs to use the proper tools for the job AND use those tools properly.

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