Re: Revised N2586R

From: William Overington (
Date: Wed Jun 25 2003 - 07:26:25 EDT

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    >>I am rather concerned that the name HANDICAPPED SIGN is being used without
    any justification or discussion of the name of the character.

    >The Name Police approved. ;-)

    >>I am rather concerned about the Orwellian nightmare possibilities of this
    and believe that vigilance is a necessary activity to protect freedom.

    >Oh, spare us.

    Well, it is like the Millennium bug problem. People took it seriously and
    spent a lot of time and effort in preventing it causing chaos. When nothing
    happened a news anchor on British TV in early January 2000 asked an expert
    in the studio if, as nothing had happened, all the concern had been just a
    lot of hype.

    The expert explained that it was only because of the concern and the care
    taken that nothing had gone wrong on 1 January 2000.

    In like manner I feel that it is very important that care be taken now over
    issues such as the possibility of an Orwellian nightmare then when it does
    not happen although we might not be sure whether our vigilance prevented it
    happening or whether it would not have happened at all, nevertheless it will
    not happen: whereas if we do not bother who knows what practices might exist
    with databases in ten or twenty years time.

    >Likely WHEELCHAIR SYMBOL is a more accurate name.

    That is a good suggestion. Perhaps WHEELCHAIR SYMBOL could be used instead
    of HANDICAPPED SIGN please.

    A guiding principle for encoding symbols could be that the description
    applies to the symbol not to any person whom it might be used to describe in
    some applications.

    >There is a DISABILITY SYMBOL which
    is different; it's called the TWO TICKS SYMBOL as well.

    Where I have seen the two ticks symbol in use is to indicate in brochures
    and advertisements that an organization claims to take care to treat people
    who have disabilities in a fair manner, doing what is necessary to help them
    use facilities or be employed. It is not applied, as far as I know, to
    individuals who have a disability.

    >>An Orwellian nightmare scenario of just encoding the symbols and "leaving
    it to" people who use Unicode as to how they use the symbols is not

    >Rein in those hares, William, please.

    Well, I realize that what I say may, at first glance, possibly appear
    extreme at times, yet please do consider what I write in an objective
    manner. If Unicode has a WHEELCHAIR SYMBOL then that is a symbol, if
    Unicode encodes a HANDICAPPED SIGN then that is a description of someone to
    whom it is applied, a Boolean sign for all, whatever the disability may be,
    whether it is relevant to the matter in hand or not. I do wonder whether
    the encoding of the symbol as HANDICAPPED SIGN would be consistent with
    human rights as it would be assisting automated decision making with a
    Boolean flag and providing an infrastructure for such practices.

    However, hopefully those of you who have the power to vote on these matters
    will act to change the name from HANDICAPPED SIGN so as to take account of
    these concerns. For me, WHEELCHAIR SYMBOL seems fine as the name simply
    describes the symbol. However, it may be that other people might have other
    views on the name.

    William Overington

    25 June 2003

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