RE: Universal Accessibility

by "Michael R. Burks" <mburks952(at)>

 Date:  Sat, 28 Jul 2001 08:45:27 -0400
 To:  <hwg-theory(at)>
 In-Reply-To:  hypergold
  todo: View Thread, Original

lets talk about cost:

In my view the real customer is the user of the site.  If they cannot get
the information they seek then they will go elsewhere.  That is a high cost.
I would also suggest that organizations that continue to behave in this
manner may have other major problems not related to accessibility.  So

Usability and Accessibility go hand in hand.  My experience shows me that
much of this can be intergrated into the design with no cost.  It does not
have to even be mentioned in many cases.

If you want to know more about accessibility and usability I suggest the
following two sites:

Usability -

Granted many of the organizations we develop sites for cringe when you
mention these things.  If you know what you are doing in many cases you will
not even have to mention them.  And, I might add, usable and accessible do
not equal "uncool" <smile>.  Take a look at  The price to make
this site accessible from the beginning was virtually nil.

Take note of the awards it has won, and also note, they do not mention
accessiblity.  The site is however quite accessible.

Interesting yes?


Mike Burks
Webmaster and Public Information Officer

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-hwg-theory(at) [mailto:owner-hwg-theory(at)]On
Behalf Of Rob Wood
Sent: Friday, July 27, 2001 8:23 PM
To: hwg-theory(at)
Subject: Re: Universal Accessibility

Well, this is a tough issue, because there isn't a "universal" answer. We
struggle with accessibility issues every day, here at HyperGold, and the
best we
can do is compromise. It all breaks down to cost, and ROI. Let me list a few
the issues:

1. Cost. How much will it cost to make the site UA? More specifically, what
percentage of the web development budget should be dedicated to it? Should
client spend 20% of the budget, for example, on resolving the ever-widening
between IE and Netscape, if only 12% of the visitors to the site use
>From where we sit, the gap between the two browsers is becoming so large
soon, few of our clients are going to want to pay to make the pages look
the same in both (and all versions, while we're at it).

2. Cool vs Uncool. In the final analysis, the customer is still always
right. We
can address the UA issue and explain the ramifications, but if the client
"bells and whistles" all over the place, the client gets bells and whistles.
the client then doesn't want to spend money to make the site accessible to
browsers, what are we do do? Say, "no"? They'll simply find another designer
will give them what they want.

3. Ignorance. Part of our job is to educate the clients, so they can make
intelligent choices. Of course, some clients can't be educated, because they
already know everything there is to know about the universe, and all of its
parts <s>. For those, you give it your best shot, then give them what they
For the rest, there are some sound arguments you can use.

Scenario: Suppose the site's mission is to sell ordinary retail products for
home. The client is in love with Flash, and wants the whole site to be one
interactive Flash movie, because "Gee! It's just like TV!" What version of
Flash? Will all customers be able to instantly find products and throw them
their carts, then quickly and easily purchase them? Or will some have
some have to download the latest Flash viewer, etc, and leave in
never to return?

Question for the client: How many sales are you willing to lose because of

Scenario: Suppose the site's mission is to deliver information content. The
client is head-over-heels in love with streaming media. He wants to pay
thousands of dollars for a ten minute video that uses nine minutes to brag
himself, and one minute to deliver the information the site is supposed to
deliver, but not a single dime to make the site UA.

Questions for the client: Is this video technology essential to
the mission of the site? Is it ok not to deliver the message to 10-20% of
visitors who don't have the player or the bandwidth to view it?

If you know the demographic makeup of the visitors to a site, along with the
browser types and versions they use, then it's pretty easy to graph out the
profile. Then you can present this as a matter of course, when your client
comtemplating technology-intensive features, and predict the percentage of
mission failure, should alternatives not be considered for each bell and
whistle. At that point, you've done your job, and the rest is up to your

Rob Wood

Eric Madej wrote:

> Hi,
> As a web designer I'm finding it hard to incorporate universal
> into clients sites. My clients often don't see the point of covering all
> browsers and all platforms when designing their site. They usually use
> examples of sites that don't take accessibility into consideration and ask
> me, "Why can't we have that?". They love shockwave and large graphic
> and don't seem to care about universal accessibility.
> In one of the e-mails in your mailing-list archives someone stated:
> "If we are going to be professional about our pages, we need to stop
> focusing on how cool all the latest toys are and make sure that we are not
> leaving part of the audience behind.  After all, professional writing is
> about the needs of the reader not the ego of the writer.  Of course, that
> may just be the tech writer in me talking."
> I am a strong supporter of universal accessibility as well.
> My question is how do we convince our clients that the universally
> accessible sites we create are of greater value and/or more effective then
> those that are not universally accessible.
> Sincerely,
> Eric Madej

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