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Re: History of accessibility


From: chagnon@pubcom.com
Date: Aug 22, 2018 9:12AM

Accessibility of what?

The start of the concept of barrier-free anything developed out of a court
case in the late 1960s. A man couldn't attend his trial at a US federal
courthouse because he was in a wheelchair and the old federal courthouse did
not have an elevator he could take to the upper level where his trial was
held. He lost that case, but later successfully sued the government for

Soon afterwards in 1968, the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) was passed,
which set up the US Access Board (its legal name used in all legislation is
the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board) to regulate
full access to all US Federal facilities.

Access to digital information started being discussed by web developers in
the mid-1990s, 30 years later. The Windows and Apple OS-es at that time were
essentially unusable by people using screen readers and the web itself was
like the wild wild west...nothing worked consistently across all browsers,
operating systems, and even monitors.

It wasn't until Tim Berners Lee formed the W3C in 1994 to standardize how
the web would work that the concept of accessible digital information took
root. https://www.w3.org/People/Berners-Lee/ Our system of consistent HTML
tags was created then, which was called the Web Standards.

At that time, some of us in the computer industry worked directly with
Microsoft and Apple to put hooks into their OS-es that would allow screen
readers to use the graphical user interfaces. To me, if felt like we
guilt-tripped the heck out of them to get them to make some changes.

By 1998, Sec. 508 was passed but its original language stated that web
information (not other digital information) must be accessible to federal
workers (not the general public). Soon afterwards, the general public was
added and in 2017, the concept of digital information was formally put into
the regs.

That's what I remember!
Hope others will contribute. I don't believe anyone has written down this

This is just from a U S viewpoint, but I believe that after our the U S Sec.
508 was put into place, other countries started down the same path.

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Bevi Chagnon, founder/CEO | <EMAIL REMOVED>
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PubCom: Technologists for Accessible Design + Publishing
consulting . training . development . design . sec. 508 services
Upcoming classes at www.PubCom.com/classes
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-----Original Message-----
From: WebAIM-Forum < <EMAIL REMOVED> > On Behalf Of Emily
Ogle via WebAIM-Forum
Sent: Wednesday, August 22, 2018 9:17 AM
To: WebAIM Discussion List < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
Cc: Emily Ogle < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
Subject: [WebAIM] History of accessibility

Does anyone have a good resource for the history of accessibility, such as
closed captioning, texting, critical changes in law, game-changers, etc?
Also, does anyone know when exactly Apple included Accessibility settings in
its iPhone? I had thought the initial release of the iPhone included it but
I'm unable to verify.