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RE: LIFT Text Transcoder


From: Ann Jenkins
Date: Jul 26, 2006 12:20PM

Thanks to Jason for his explanation and offer of a demonstration of the LIFT
Text Transcoder. Certainly, I will contact him personally because I am
always interested in any product and effort to promote accessibility.

Thanks to Patrick, Tim, and Philip for their valuable insight and opinions.

While I can appreciate the LIFT Text Transcoder as an interim/temporary aid
in the mist of a formal plan to achieve enterprise-level web accessibility,
my concern continues to be the false sense of security I think some
organizations will have upon implementing it, and the belief that they've
done their part to meet web accessibility requirements.

Ann G. Jenkins, Ed.D.
(281) 414-7256

Accessible Web Design, LLC

-----Original Message-----
From: Jason Taylor [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
Sent: Wednesday, July 26, 2006 11:51 AM
To: Philip Kiff
Cc: <EMAIL REMOVED> ; Jason Taylor; Ann Jenkins; Patrick H.
Lauke; Tim Beadle
Subject: RE: [WebAIM] LIFT Text Transcoder

Dear Philip

Your are right in your description of the basic process but too harsh on
the negative view and limited in your vision. Partnering with UsableNet
and LIFT Text Transcoder and other LIFT products gives clients options and
opens up content quickly to more people.

Too many times people over react to positive efforts organizations make
towards supporting assistive users just because it does not fit their
view, much like in this case. The University of Georgia are very committed
to web
accessibility in many forms, including encouraging creating good code from
the start and aids such as the LIFT Text Transcoder.

Over criticizing organization that have dedicate time and resources to
better support assistive users will only have a long term negative effect.

I will take on board some of your positioning comments but in general do
not share your view of what satisfies legal requirements. Our commitment
to our clients and users of the view generated by LIFT Text Transcoder is
that we will ensue any assistive device user will be able to get to any
content they need to in a comparable way as any other user. This is our
commitment, this is something LIFT Text Transcoder can achieve and we
think this is super important and we spend 110% of our time, skill and
efforts achieve this for our customers.

Kind Regards
Jason Taylor

> Another overly long post. Too much time on my hands this morning.
> On July 26, 2006 06:08 EST, Jason Taylor wrote:
>> In light of your recent postings on WebAim I wanted to extend an
invitation to you all to become more educated with how LIFT Text
Transcoder works...
> [....]
>> I would be happy to take you through a simple web demo to help you see
why many are adding this to their overall strategy....
> I think it is pretty clear how it works and no additional demo is
> The Text Transcoder pulls the page from the source, manipulates it and
augments it according to specs and "annotations", then sends it to the
> as a new, improved page. With the use of these "annotations", page
> can be programmatically re-coded and/or re-ordered. The product also
provides users with the option of selecting various layout options for
themselves. That about covers it, right?
> As a piece of technology, it is neat-o: I am always interested in seeing
> website data can be manipulated. But that doesn't make it a solution I
would recommend except in very special and/or temporary circumstances.
> feel the same way about the Apache server mod_accessibility that I
> in my earlier post.
> The criticisms I listed against the use of a text-only (or "dynamic
assistive friendly view") version still stand, I think. And now that I
> them, the ones that Tim identified on his blog posting back in 2003 all
> to continue to apply as well.
> On July 26, 2006 06:08 EST, Jason Taylor wrote:
>> I hope you agree that having this ability to quickly improve a sites
access without having to find and schedule the changes on the original
site is powerful. Although we would agree and continue to encourage our
customers in better original design (we even sell tools to help with
this), many times the resources are not allocated quickly enough and
assistive users get left out. With this solution we can act as a
partner to the organization and help quickly to improve vast amounts of
> Yes, this seems to me to be the strength of the product and the service
provided by LIFT. Speed. And yes, I am impressed with the example of
> service you can provide by putting through overnight changes to your
> Transcoder version of the UGA site. But that's not a strong enough
> point for me.
> Besides, it is difficult to evaluate the actual value of the service in
> particular case without knowing the costs involved, reviewing the total
> web budget, and understanding how this fits in to the overall UGA site
development plans. I mean, this is summertime, right? Having an
> turnaround on changes to the Text Transcoder version of a university
> in the summer is not really necessary. And a site the size of UGA
> be resorting to quick fixes...UGA has a total annual budget of 1.3
> dollars, they've got their own massive IT department with hardware
> that lots of companies can only dream of, and an entire computer science
department (with both an MA and a PhD program) full of bright, energetic
website whizzes who are struggling right now to find enough paid summer
> to get them through the next academic year. These students would LOVE
> get a well-paid job working on the UGA site. Why would UGA (or any
> university for that matter) even consider turning to an out-of-house
solution for anything to do with their own website? Indeed, I bet I
> make a good case that in the long-run a university will actually save
> by investing now in the human resources required to improve their site
> in-house rather than off-loading it to a service like LIFT Text
> Transcoder.
> But I digress...
> On July 24, 2006 17:45 EST, Ann Jenkins wrote:
>>> I don't know anything about the product except what is on their web
site, and I realize UsableNet LIFT products are reputable, but somehow
this feels like a
>>> quick fix, too good to be true solution to their web accessibility
problems. I felt a bit alarmed that they think this can meet their
government required accessibility problems. Any thoughts?
> On July 26, 2006 06:08 EST, Jason Taylor wrote:
>> ...Although we would agree and continue to encourage
>> our customers in better original design (we even sell tools to help
with this), many times the resources are not allocated quickly enough
and assistive users get left out.
> On July 26, 2006 07:44 EST, Patrick Lauke wrote:
>> However, particularly in certain management circles, LIFT won't be seen
>> a transitional solution (until the original is made more accessible), but
>> as a permanent one (why do we now need to make the original more
accessible? we've just spent money on that text only version, that
covers us doesn't it?)
> I am happy to hear that LIFT continues to encourage clients to improve
> original design of their sites to improve accessibility. And I am quite
certain that LIFT and its entire staff are 110% committed to web
accessibility issues. However, the danger that Patrick identifies is
> as evidenced by Ann's original question. Non-technical managers who are
looking to meet governmental or legal obligations may very well see the
> Text Transcoder as a quick fix method to accessibility problems. It
> very well into a common management problem-solving structure: throw some
money at the problem, assign the responsibility to an external body, and
then simply forget about it until a complaint comes in. I would hope
> the community of people working on web accessibility issues would
> this kind of approach and instead highlight the value of making
> incremental,
> ongoing improvements to a website -- not only because this will benefit
people with disabilities, but because that is the correct, long-term
solution for all users in almost all cases.
> The WCAG 1.0 includes specific mention of the use of "alternative"
> of pages and it discourages against it:
> "Content developers should only resort to alternative pages when other
solutions fail because alternative pages are generally updated less
> than "primary" pages. An out-of-date page may be as frustrating as one
> is inaccessible since, in both cases, the information presented on the
original page is unavailable. Automatically generating alternative pages
> lead to more frequent updates, but content developers must still be
> to ensure that generated pages always make sense, and that users are
> to
> navigate a site by following links on primary pages, alternative pages,
> both. Before resorting to an alternative page, reconsider the design of
> original page; making it accessible is likely to improve it for all
> (Note to 11.4: <http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-WEBCONTENT-TECHS/#gl-use-w3c>; )
> I think that the purpose of including the possibility of "alternative"
versions is really to address situations where content simply cannot be
> accessible, i.e. "when other solutions fail", and not really to address
situations where someone just doesn't have the time or money to figure
> the available solution. In that context, I see the LIFT Text Transcoder
> a tool that is interesting as a demonstration of what kinds of site
transformations are currently possible and that may be of use, usually
temporarily, in specific cases, for certain websites, and that is all.
> But that is not what a non-technical manager will think when they visit
usablenet.com. No. In fact, on the current home page of usablenet.com
<http://www.usablenet.com/>;, the LIFT Text Transcoder appears under the
heading "ADA Web Solution" and the product's name LIFT Text Transcoder
actually includes the acronym "A.D.A." in parentheses beside the title,
> though it is part of the name itself. And in the copy on the home page
> explains "LIFT Transcoder immediately - at no impact to client IT or web
development resources - creates an accessible (compliant) view of all
> content." The word "compliant" and the repeated use of the acronym ADA
would naturally lead someone to believe that the LIFT Transcoder is the
"solution" for web managers who need to make their sites "compliant"
> the "ADA". In my opinion, this is misleading advertising, and it is
> to the potential confusion amongst non-technical managers about the
> and potential use of the LIFT Transcoder, despite the fact that
> the usablenet.com site is more clear about the idea of the Transcoder as
just one part of a larger accessibility strategy.
> In light of the confusion that this seems to create, I would encourage
> to change some of the promotional copy associated with the LIFT
> product.
> None of this means that the LIFT Text Transcoder is a bad product. It
> to me to be a great product at doing what it does -- really ingenious in
many ways. It's just that I don't think that function is particularly
useful except in very rare cases. And I also feel that at the moment it
> in fact be encouraging principles or understandings that don't line up
> my personal view of how to promote the use of accessible website design
across the world.
> Regards,
> Philip Kiff.
> --
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