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Re: lynx-dev Still learning about what Goes Wrong.

From: David Woolley
Subject: Re: lynx-dev Still learning about what Goes Wrong.
Date: Sat, 29 Jul 2000 11:26:54 +0100 (BST)

>         A number of our web sites at Oklahoma State University
> have recently been upgraded and have become just awful as far as

I presume "State" means that it is publically funded.  A lot of publically
funded (I suppose it is possible that this is only federally funded)
bodies in the US are beginning to panic about legislation or similar that
will force them to meet accessibility guidelines.  Even the lowest level
of the W3C guidelines ( requires that alternatives
be provided for script content, and alternative text for images.

You might want to research that legislation, etc., and then try to
make them afraid of it.  It may be related to the Americans with
Disabilities Act.  Unfortunately the equivalent UK legislation only
applies to employees, and like most such legislation will probably not
be enforced (enforcement requires spending on inspectors or employees
prepared to risk their careers by taking their employer to court).

(The US downside is that many organisations will meet the letter of the
W3C accessibility guidelines without thinking about whether they are
creating true and appropriate accessibility.)

You might also want to note that AOL just made an out of court settlement
on a case brought against them (by a US charity I think) regarding
the accessibility characteristics of their service and tools, and have
promised to fix them.  The address@hidden mailing list archive should
give you more background.

Note, while Outlook Express, particularly early versions, is notorious
for generating illegal HTML, excess use of scripts and anonymous graphics
is the result of users trying to emulate commercial sites, or simply not
understanding the philosophy of universal access which was part of 
Tim Berners-Lee's original concept.

Most web content authors use HTML/CSS/Javascript/DOM... because:

- it is fashionable;
- Microsoft install a free viewer on most user's systems that they can
  control to produce pretty graphical effects on those systems (the real
  HTML concept is that HTML has nothing to do with physical presentation, 
  but most authors use it only for the physical presentation achieved using
  these pre-installed browsers - it is actually rather a poor tool for this!).

There is a fundamental conflict between the aims of HTML (accessibility
and communication) and the web and the wishes of most authors (gloss and
emotion, targetted at those with large disposable incomes).  Front Page
is designed to be attractive to authors who don't want to think; this
is generally true of commercial products.

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