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Re: No decision from the Appeals court


From: Hall, Kevin (K.M.)
Date: Sep 29, 2004 12:37PM

> I've never seen that spelling of Kerb before, I thought that this was some clever web design technique that I didn't know about - not an > irrelevance from the physical world.

Well, you know what they say - America and England are two countries separated by a common ocean... but I don't think it was really off topic in that understanding how the ADA has made a positive impact in some areas may lead some people to the conclusion that it would be a good idea to broadly apply it or similar legislation to web sites. The web does not operate in a vacuum, we should recognize that at some point it interfaces with the real world and understand that there can be some confusion and blurring of ideas where that intersection occurs. In this case the fact that the ADA has led to some real improvements in how buildings and public spaces are created is misleading some into thinking it would have the same positive effect on web sites. (Note that the ADA is not without its detractors for some unintended negative effects in the offline world, but that really is getting off topic)

I think you've nailed the problem with the example of your web site hosted in the U.S., it's simply too hard to pin things down online based on offline geography. I don't think any of us want to see extradition cases or international lawsuits over alt tags or captioning. Best to keep the courts and politicians out of it and leave this to free people choosing to do the right thing. Our job is to convince everyone to do the right thing and to want to build accessible web sites.

-Kevin Hall

Also, Americans think anyone with a British accent is quite sophisticated, that's why our actors adopt fake accents to sound more cultured. We're total suckers that way.

-----Original Message-----
From: michael.brockington [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
Sent: Wednesday, September 29, 2004 12:32 PM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] No decision from the Appeals court

-----Original Message-----
From: khall51 [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
Sent: 29 September 2004 16:58
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] No decision from the Appeals court

Thanks for a sensible reply - I needed to blow off a little steam, and I came
across Jim's rant at the wrong time. (Two of the things that get me riled are
people preaching to those that they already know are converted, and Yanks
that think they are the only civilised people on the planet.)

Thanks for the explanation - I've never seen that spelling of Kerb before, I
thought that this was some clever web design technique that I didn't know
about - not an irrelevance from the physical world. Or am I missing something
- I have only ever heard people discussing Web Accessibility here; is
physical accessiblity on or off-topic?
As a comparison I think that it is fairly poor - those responsible for
implementation (in the UK at least) are a fairly small, well-defined group
of civic bodies with enough budget to carry this out, and it makes no
significant difference to new projects. It is also a binary problem - either
it has been done or it hasn't - no significant middle ground. Web
accessiblity is paid for by a wide group of bodies, with vastly varying
budgets in both time and money, and as we see here, not a very well defined
group. Nor is the implementation straight-forward or easily defined - are we
going to see lawsuits over the non-technical parts of the WAI? I mean is
anyone looking forward to having a Judge decide whether ALT-TEXT is actually

I thought that the US was supposed to be a big fan of free-speech, liberty
and the Market-Economy? If commercial sites want to make money/prestige then
they need to be accessible to all, whether they use Opera, Netscape 2, JAWS
or a mobile/cell-phone. I really don't think that they need legislative
pressure as well.

As a side issue, the Canberra case failed get the desired outcome if I
remember correctly - money was forthcoming, but the site was abandoned before
it was 'fully' accessible. How does that fit in with and ADA that has yet to
be tested?

NB I do have some vested interest here: as you may have realised, I am not a
US resident, but at the moment I do have a site which is hosted in the US. If
the ADA applies to me then I would have to move it from its current home in
the US. If the ADA still applies then I would have to move to a country that
is not prepared to extradite its citizens to the US for undisclosed crimes
that were not allegedly perpetrated in the US. (Three UK citizens are
currently facing extradition for alleged involvement in ENRON, while living
in the UK. Thanks to 9/11 they are being treated as terrorists. Politicians

In reply to:
Jim's point about curb cuts being a benefit to all seems right on to me. They
are the little ramps that are cut into sidewalks from the street that allow
people in wheelchairs and other who have trouble with the step at the curb to
get on and off of the sidewalk (also handy for shopping carts and bikes).
However, it also highlights one of the fundamental differences between
applying the ADA to a local place of business and to a web site that is
available globally - that is that the U.S. government really has no control
over the content of the web. Neither does any other government except through
the use of national firewalls and similar measures as seen in Iran and
Vietnam. The sidewalk is clearly under on U.S. soil, but is a web site that
is accessed in the U.S. but created and hosted elsewhere? It's not clear even
to those of us with a good understanding of the nature of the web, much less
to a politician who can't find the power button on their computer.

You are also right that the ADA does not apply to private sector companies or
individuals operating web sites. The recent NY settlement and the
Southwest.com appeal do not set any legal precedent otherwise. Section 508 is
part of the ADA, the question now is whether other sections, traditionally
interpreted to refer only to brick-and-mortar locations, also apply to web
sites in the private sector. I opt for no on that one though I can understand
how others like Jim might argue that we need that to make progress.

I took Jim's comments on IBM to mean that IBM had embraced the federal
standard as their own and may not have taken to accessibility as company
policy as easily without the federal guidelines in place. I think this
supports my earlier point that the government can set an example and provide
guidelines and encouragement rather than the threat of lawsuits. It appears
to have worked with IBM.

-Kevin Hall

P.S. Yahoo can be added to the list that is now designing with Web Standards
in mind. See http://www.yahoo.com/beta


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