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RE: The Commercialization of Web Accessibility


From: Cohen, Lisa A.
Date: Dec 19, 2001 9:50AM

Just wanted to pass along some thoughts on the effects of Section 508 on the
marketplace... I attended a conference on "legal and procurement issues of
Section 508". One of the effects of this rule for federal government
procurement is that the government is now required to purchase the most
compliant Electronic and Information Technology product, regardless of
greater cost. This should have a huge effect on the marketplace.

In Michael's example (below, Con #2) of Sony being a Japanese company not
required to make products accessible, I believe it is actually the case that
the law does not target American companies, but instead regulates American
government purchases. Therefore, in order to compete in the huge U.S.
federal marketplace, Sony, or any other company, will also be required to
make their products accessible (or rather, 508 compliant).

Some changes in procurement law a few years back actually encouraged the
federal government to go out and buy less expensive COTS tools (when
available) because of the competitive pricing which saved U.S. taxpayer
dollars. The Section 508 rule actually places the higher priority on 508
compliance rather than on cost, which when you think about it, should create
enormous opportunity for profitable 508 related businesses to gain market
share. Unfortunately, this may unintentionally increase the likelihood of
higher prices (Michael's Con #1).

Lisa Cohen

- -----Original Message-----
From: Michael Goddard [ mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED>
<mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> > ]
Sent: Wednesday, December 19, 2001 9:25 AM
To: WebAIM forum
Subject: Re: The Commercialization of Web Accessibility

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.


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