WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

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Re: The Commercialization of Web Accessibility


From: Michael Goddard
Date: Dec 19, 2001 8:38AM

As an individual who has a disability and a career within the Web
Development and Design field, my viewpoint is that the more commercialized
that accessibility gets, the sharper the "double-edge sword" gets. What I
mean by this is that there are going to be pros and cons regarding this and
those pros and cons will begin to make stronger impacts upon people's
decisions in the use of accessibility.

1) Increased awareness of accessibility issues to larget audiences.
2) With the monies earned, the possibility of accessiblility features being
researched and new technologies created.

1) Cost becomes too high for accessibility tools to be used and company's
therefore not using the necessary tools. This is my dilemma in regards to
2) Accessibility should be used throughout the world, however only the U.S.,
Canada and U.K have/or implementing some type of accessibility laws
"requiring" in a limited way that accessibility must be met. (If I forgot a
country I apologize). This in turns creates an "unfair" playing field in my
opinion. So for example, Sony Inc. is a Japanese company and is not bound
by any law to create accessible content, so they don't have to worry nor
spend money for accessiblility issues on their web sites, however Microsoft
is an American company that is bound by American law to provide
accessiblility on their web sites so they have to spend and worry about
accessiblility issues....(NOTE: this is an example to clarify the point!)

I am sure there are many more pros and cons however these are the main two
that stick in my mind the most. Plus another fear that I have in regards to
the commercialization of accessibility ( I am not against making money just
cautious about the "results" regarding this - i.e causing prices to increase
and tools, once being free like Bobby, now having to be bought for usage )
is that people tend to forget that I or anyone else witha disability have
the right to be able to access public information for free as everyone else.

Why should I pay money so I can get closed captioning on a video when a
"normal" person can view the same video for free. I have a right to the
same information as anyone else but I have to 'pay' for it.

I see this happening just for the fact that companies will have to find some
way to pay for the services that they 'had' to 'pay' for in order to make
the video accessible. And those costs will trickle down to the users of
that service.

Those are my thoughts, take them in anyway you like them.