Presentation Notes

William Loughborough - Programmers are cheaper than lawyers

W3C Workshop on Web Device Independent Authoring
Wednesday 4 October 2000

Introductory slide:

Notes taken by Gregory Rosmaita

the 50 year ambush
retrofitting is a bitch; if do now cost is less; if not,
becomes so embedded, that it is hard to change

2. it is the law; just as they now have environmental
impact studies before they build a product they will
have an accessibility impact review over your
products, both hardware and software

2. internet industry association in Australia in reaction
to Olympics site

5. Australian law: "disability access is a requirement
for any Australian business that wants to do business
on the net"

WAI guidelines are not onerous or difficult to deal with
if built in from beginning

sites that meet accessibility guidelines are faster
loading and better business; anyone who is to invest
in a web presence would be foolish not to build in
access; the "business case" -- keep in mind how
much more expense the lawyers are than
programmers; irony is that IBM has internal policies
that preclude them from issuing inaccessible web
content, and yet they catered to the desires of the
organization that contracted them

keep in mind that accessibility I no longer a
backburner choice; have to design for it at the
inception; if you have input to your company, tell them
what the old guy said, "that lawyers are more
expensive than programmers" and

Q: I was enraged when I saw this Australian case;
problem is that they didn't fix anything--yes, precedent
was set, but they got away with it; judge said that
citizens could take class action
A: idea that IBM can't be held liable for it is still a
CMN: judgment of commission required that they fix
the site, and invited complainant to come back to
court to claim compensation if not fixed, so
expectation on part of court was that they would fix it
or pay the price when slapped with class action suit
A: body of case law is beginning to build up in
Australia, the U.S., and elsewhere; the WAI site
contains links to policies for 12 to 15 countries that,
from what has been presented here is being ignored
Lisa: at the moment in America it is illegal to make an
inaccessible site, even though there is no specific law
on the books due to other legislation
A: for what is being done today, in 5 years, they can
be held responsible for millions of dollars; it will have
to be done, because of the body of case law that is
being build and the increasing level of confidence and
technical sophistication of users with disabilities, as
well as their willingness to take action, whether
through legal recourse or civil disobedience