----------------------- Mail item text follows ---------------
To: NFB R&D Committee Members
From: Curtis Chong
USIDS002 AT IBMMAIL
Subject: Re: accessiblity built-in
Here's some stuff from Gregg VanderHeiden of the TRACE Center that seems to be
right on target.
Cordially, Curtis Chong (CURTC)
Communication Software Support Group (CSSG) Phone: 612/671-2185
IDS Financial Services, IDS Tower-10, OP4/591
Minneapolis, MN 55440
*** Forwarding note from I1007330--IBMMAIL 09/08/93 18:55 ***
Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1993 15:45:28 -0600
Subject: Re: accessiblity built-in
CC: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
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>Subject: accessiblity built-in
>To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
>So what do you think would be the policy on answers like
>"the telephone is now a development platform just like a PC...
>if it can't be used by a person with a disability with the
>default software, a developer can create any type of software
>that can be loaded on it to suit the individual user's needs.
>Just as no one expects the standard operating system on a PC
>to be all things to all people, the same will hold true of
> just curious.
If you're talking about something which is programmable, has a floppy disk
drive, etc., but which can also function as a phone, then I think your
statement would be true. In that case, what you have is a computer which
can act like a phone, and it would follow the accessibility rules of a
If, however, you're talking about a telephone which is in a public place or
telephones which do not have floppy disk drives or telephones which are
shared appliances in work settings, I think the issue is different.
If you have a next-generation information phone which is located in a
public place, then it would have to follow rules that would look more like
what is evolving for public communication systems; that is, they should be
as accessible as possible to the broadest number of people with
disabilities. As you know, public phones need to be located so that they
can be operated by people with physical disabilities, be configured so that
the keys can be tactually located so that they can be operated by someone
who is blind, and wherever there is a pay phone it must be a phone with
amplifiers for people with hearing impairments, and now it must be equipped
with TDD/TT capabilities for people who are deaf. Similarly, the
next-generation information phone would have to maximally accessible for
people with disabilities as they encountered them in public settings. To
require that people bring along their own special devices or that they
custom modify these public phones would not be considered very reasonable
accommodation, if the flexibility could have been easily built in.
If we're talking about phones that we eventually want to see going into
homes and functioning like appliances, the requirement that people with
disabilities get their own separate versions or that they have to modify
their own info phones to use them may also not be acceptable. As long as
we're talking about something as flexible and reconfigurable as a computer,
this issue doesn't arise. When we start talking about things that are more
appliance-like and are targeted toward the mass market consumer, however,
the issue may be somewhat different. Remember that all televisions sets
with screens larger than 13" as of July must now have closed-caption
decoders built directly into them.
You could assume that you could get away with the argument you posed above
and design the products without built-in accessibility. However, I
wouldn't want to bet a lot of money that you wouldn't have to go back and
re-engineer the products later to meet what I would predict will be
requirements on the near horizon. Also, if your competitors come out with
an architecture/human interface which does accommodate disability access,
you may find that your products have a temporary disadvantage while you
re-engineer them. Also, you then have all of the people who were using
your old interface and relying on it having to relearn the new one. Since
you already have established a lot of interface conventions, you may
already face this problem, no matter what you do. I would think that the
sooner you looked at it, though, the better off you'd be.
SHARED INFO-PHONES IN WORKPLACE
Finally, with regard to shared information phones in employment settings...
I don't see that there is any requirement that products that you make for
sale to the commercial sector will necessarily need to be accessible.
However, companies are becoming increasingly aware of the fact that the
information systems that they purchase need to be either accessible or
easily made accessible. Again, if they are comparing your product to some
competitor's product, and the competitor's product which costs the same and
has the same basic features is also usable by a broader range of their
employees or potential employee applicants, you may find that there would
be a tendency to purchase the competitor's product. Again, this is very
intangible and hard to quantify or make predictions about. Even if the
force were clearly at work, it would be hard to put your finger on exactly
what the impact of this one factor in the total sales decision would be.
However, given the fact that products that are more accessible are
generally easier for the older employees to use (and there are getting to
be a lot more of them) as well as holding some advantages for everyone, you
may find this to be a significant factor to think about.
Of course, with all products, there is a point at which an individual's
disability is so severe that they are going to require some type of
modification in order to use any product. Thus, it doesn't make sense to
set a goal of making one's products totally accessible to everyone. The
- to do everything that is reasonable (and especially everything that is
easy and does not have significant impact on cost) to make one's products
as usable as possible by the broadest range of people as possible;
- then make one's products as compatible as possible with third-party
access devices for those individuals with more severe impairments.
Generally, making something maximally accessible is usually not a matter of
making it more expensive to manufacture, but rather being very smart about
the design, and being both knowledgeable and creative in terms of
structuring its control, input/output, and human interface structure. In
general, the key is alternatives.
Sorry for the long answer, but I don't have time to craft a short one.
Hope this is helpful.
608/263-5788 FAX 608 262-8848
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