[whatwg] HTML 5, OGG, competition, civil rights, and persons with disabilities

Fernando my.lists at f123.org
Tue Dec 11 10:45:14 PST 2007

Please reconsider the decision to exclude the recommendation of the
Theora/OGG Vorbis codec in HTML 5 guidelines.

I expect that in a sophisticated group such as this one:

* skepticism with how well the interests of powerful corporations match
those of individuals that are not their employees or shareholders;

* an understanding of the economic and civil rights damage being done to the
rights of individuals by proprietary formats; and

* an understanding of the wisdom behind the original wording of this portion
of the document;

Will enable you to see the need to readmit common sense and wisdom into HTML
5 by including OGG.

Having said that, I want to illustrate how open standards or the lack
thereof can affect someone with a disability such as myself.

While there have been large corporations that have adopted relatively
inclusive designs in their technology, i.e. designs that enable rather than
block persons who are blind or have other disabilities; this has often taken
place only after legal threats or actual litigation from government agencies
and other groups.

The problem is however, that legislative tools are not always available to
citizens, are often outdated, too slow, or inadequate to do the work that is
truly the responsibility of groups such as this one.

When a large corporation ignores the needs of persons with disabilities in
realms where open standards prevail, we have options.

It bothered me but it didn't stop me when in the 1990s, there were a number
of inaccessible e-mail clients for users of screen reading software such as
myself.  Blind users could always use alternative products such as Pine or
Emacs to handle e-mail because the e-mail protocol is open.

This is not the case with proprietary formats.  In formats such as those
promoted by Microsoft, Apple, and, to my surprise, Nokia, any and all
groups, be those persons with disabilities, or those who in any other way do
not fit the user profile being targeted by those corporations are vulnerable
to being left out.

Well, I should clarify that, they are not just vulnerable to being left out
but in fact, they are often left out.

Unfortunately this is not about the right to play video games, although
there is an entire other conversation there, but the right to access
information that is increasingly central to the educational options,
professional opportunities, and social avenues available to everyone. Allow
every human brain its rights to develop, contribute, and participate fully
regardless of its race, economic profile, the characteristics of its body,
or the computing platform it has access to.

This is not to say that an open standard guarantees access, but it
facilitates it greatly; because from what I have observed and experienced,
there have always been and there will always be those who value inclusion
over control, competition over rent-seeking behavior, and courage over moral

Thank you for taking the above into account.

Fernando H. F. Botelho

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