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Even if you have an old 486 still creaking along like a Model T on the information superhighway, you should still be able to read this article – and any others on this site.

Since he's as passionate about keeping his Web site universally accessible as he is about keeping library services, basic voter information and community issues accessible, I'm voting for him, too.

 

* This article first appeared in The Times Herald-Record on May 28, 2001. Used by permission.

 

 

 

Berkman's Web site is universally accessible – and that's more important than you might think.

Elizabeth Bushey

Even if you have an old 486 still creaking along like a Model T on the information superhighway, you should still be able to read this article – and any others on this site.

Because every page on it has been designed to be readable on EVERYBODY's browser. Even if they can't see, or move, or don't use a mouse. (Not everybody does. Keep reading.)

In all my 30-odd years, I never really thought about wheelchairs, ramps or bumps on a blind person's books.

Oh sure, I was sympathetic. I still remember the young adult novel I read about a teenager who went blind; it prompted me to at least get acquainted with Braille.

I still shudder at the description of the memoirist who related how her sight gradually faded out. (She tried to memorize family photo albums.)

I read the story of paraplegic Jill Kinmont, and wept over the various brave stories of the disabled overcoming odds. So brave, so sad, so not me.

Until I had my first child.

Have you any idea how hard it is to drag a stroller with a 20-pound baby in it up a flight of stairs?

Ask any Mom. Orange County's full of historic buildings with only the barest passing nod to wheelchair ramps.

As an active, working Mom who takes my kids everywhere I can, I developed incredible upper arm strength, not to mention backdoor resources, trying to get around in a stroller.

Over and over again, I cursed architects and awkward ramp-builders for not even considering wheels on baby carriages. OK, maybe they didn't care enough wheelchair bound adults, but did anyone think of the Moms and their kids?

Nope.

That's the whole problem. In the case of wheelchair ramps all over the county, they miss the boat not only on wheelchair-bound shoppers, but also Moms who would be happy to come shop, spend money, or spend time in these restricted areas.

What an accidental waste. Especially when you consider that when you design for universal accessibility, you accidentally build in benefits.

Here's a news flash: design for everybody, and everybody wins. If you design a Web page for someone who can't see, and who gets the Web page read to them by a browser, you also happen to design a Web page for that affluent bunch who surf the Web from their wireless cell phones or PDAs. Hmmm. Isn't that lucky?

Or is it just good practice?

Still not convinced? Try surfing a Web page with your graphics turned off, and Java and JavaScript disabled. Now go to a site like CDNow.com, and see if you can find your way around. You can't, can you?

Now surf Berkman's site. You'll see he's committed to making his information available to everyone, on the Web and in person.

I'm glad he embraces the concept of universal accessibilty.

Because I wouldn't put his Web pages together for him otherwise.

Since he's as passionate about keeping his Web site universally accessible as he is about keeping library services, basic voter information and community issues accessible, I'm voting for him, too.

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All content © 2000-2003 Jeffrey Berkman
(except where indicated)
Jeffrey Berkman
Orange County Legislature
PO Box 787
Middletown, New York 10940
(845) 342-6813

fax: (845) 343-9158

 

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