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Re: No decision from the Appeals court

for

From: Jim Thatcher
Date: Sep 29, 2004 8:59AM


These are the kinds of thoughts we heard during the debate and after the
signing of the original ADA, the law you can blame for curb cuts, from which
we all benefit. In the case of ADA, technologists, architects, advocates and
others met and drafted the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) which have
just recently been updated 10 years later. These work; the interested
parties join in to make the world a better place for everybody.

The same is true for the effect of Section 508. The Accessibility Standards
(based largely on WCAG 1.0) from the Access Board serve as guidance for
building an accessible web. Though 508 only applies to federal agency
purchases, some companies, like IBM where I worked for 37 years, and where I
led the accessibility effort, decide to accept accessibility as a standard
for their IT development, rather than a separate plan for federal agencies.
Sure they have to keep working on it - just as on usability and security.
But the products change and everybody is better off. In no way is IBM alone
in that view. I am sure the force of law is what brought about the change.

And it isn't a question of "if the US passes such an act" - we have one, the
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), - 14 years old and a piece of
legislation that we can all be proud of - especially on this list. The only
question arising in this thread is whether or not the ADA applies to the
Web. Some think it does, including the Attorney General of New York, and the
Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. I do too. One judge in a
District Court in Florida, thinks not. That's the score. Stay tuned.

Jim

Accessibility Consulting: http://jimthatcher.com/
512-306-0931

-----Original Message-----
From: michael.brockington [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
Sent: Wednesday, September 29, 2004 4:19 AM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] No decision from the Appeals court



-----Original Message-----
From: design11 [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
>
>We are probably better off in the long run if we argue that the ADA
>doesn't apply to web sites and focus our efforts on educating web
>designers and stakeholders in web sites on the importance of good
>accessibility and usability practices.
>

I entirely agree - if you read the contents of the WAI documentation then
you
are reading _recommendations_ made by probably the best qualified group of
web professionals on the planet. However the shortest glimpse of this list
will show you that there are massive grey areas in there, even now. In
particular, note the number of times that the phrase 'Until Browsers ....' or
similar appears. This is not acceptable language for a legal document, since
percentages and majorities are not defined in any way, so would at the very
least need to be supplemented by future legislation.

So, to summarise: the best written guidelines that we have at the moment
would need to be extensively re-written to become legislation. This would
inevitably be done by Politicians, who are rarely even adequately qualified
to do their jobs, so I can see no chance of the outcome even being useable,
let alone useful. For one thing some corporate would spot something that
could be changed to their advantage, and that would be that. Examples of the
latter abound, from Software Patents to fair use of content.

Finally, if the US passes such an Act, the EU would eventually do the same,
only the two acts would inevitably be incompatible - then what do we do? Do
the right thing by doing what the WAI tells us, or do what the lawyers tell
us>

Mike


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