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Re: The Commercialization of Web Accessibility


From: Kynn Bartlett
Date: Dec 18, 2001 5:58PM

At 5:38 PM -0600 12/18/01, Holly Marie wrote:
>It is helpful, no need to feel guilty and where were all these web
>sites, corporations, and even web designers that do not know going to
>get help? And where is it stated they need to get help for free?

I'm not necessarily stating my own views here. I'm playing devil's
advocate now:

If they don't get it for free, then the only sites which will
be accessible are those which have chosen to pay for it. The
problem results in that a failure to pay doesn't necessarily
hurt the companies -- it hurts the users with disabilities.
The higher the price tag on accessibility support material,
the fewer people benefit it. For example, many large
corporations may have been willing to use Bobby before on
their sites, but not if they have to pay a site license
fee. Fewer people using Bobby (and no free equivalent for
it) can lead to generally less accessible sites.

Therefore, it is to the advantage of people with disabilities
that information accessibility remain no-charge -- it's why
WCAG guidelines can have a larger impact than Mr. Nielsen's
$190 report.

Thoughts on this? I don't believe it all myself, and as an author,
I'd certainly like to be able to sell books. But I think it is a
necessary point to continue. If I wrote a book on accessibility,
I might sell some copies and that would be a good thing. However,
if I created a free web site and PDF with the same content, more
people would get it. But I would have less motive to do this,
because it would be, effectively, money out of my own pocket.

And thus the businessman is in necessary conflict with the
activist. Businessmen want to monetize accessibility because,
as they see it, they can make money out of it _and_ by making
money they can guarantee the availability and maintenance of
the resource, and even develop further resources. The activist
looks primarily at the good that's done for people in need, and
sometimes has to make compromises for practicality's sake,
recognizing that content won't get created if it means too much
personal sacrifice.

What do you think?

- --Kynn

- --
Kynn Bartlett < <EMAIL REMOVED> > http://kynn.com
Chief Technologist, Idyll Mountain http://idyllmtn.com
Web Accessibility Expert-for-hire http://kynn.com/resume
January Web Accessibility eCourse http://kynn.com/+d201