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Re: Response to: ChangeProposals/DeprecateLongdesc

From: Silvia Pfeiffer <silviapfeiffer1@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 28 Aug 2011 18:11:19 +1000
Message-ID: <CAHp8n2mOb06M9Hzz6W4VnauLMSDLubXwCDo8xCNENvPppUZGug@mail.gmail.com>
To: John Foliot <jfoliot@stanford.edu>
Cc: public-html-a11y@w3.org
On Sat, Aug 27, 2011 at 6:19 AM, John Foliot <jfoliot@stanford.edu> wrote:
> Hi Silvia,
>
>> I've long since moved on from discussing @longdesc - for me it's a matter now of understanding / identifying what @aria-describedby is actually useful for as a general means for providing long descriptions to elements.
>
> I think the question you are asking is essentially flawed: there is a fundemental difference between a *long* description that provides complex details about a complex "thing" (element being something of a reserved term), and a description that explains what a widget is. Aria-describedby was designed for the later, not the former.
>
> To use an imperfect analogy, there is a difference between a Ferrari and a Jeep, even though you could drive either to the corner store for milk. But when you start to question why you can't take the Ferrari off-roading, the answer becomes simple: it wasn't designed for that use. It's not that your Ferrari is flawed, rather it's simply not a Jeep.
>
>> Does it deliver on what it was designed to be?
>
> As a tool to convey an AccessibleDescription of a widget to the various Accessibility APIs, then I believe yes it does. As Chaals has previously noted, the AAPIs don't require structured text:
>
>     "The spec... actually requires that you remove the structure and just present the text.... I wonder if it is because the accessibility APIs are not designed to handle included markup."
>
>> Was the requirement to remove structure and just present the text a poor choice, reducing @aria-describedby to sharing all the problems that @alt has?
>
> See my imperfect analogy. Ferraris don't have knobby tires and elevated suspension, and Jeeps do not hug the road. Different needs, different solutions. (As an aside, I also personally reject that @alt is flawed, it has a job to do, and it does it.)
>
>> Is it too late to change that?
>
> Change what? Microsoft's UIa is now 6 years old, MSAA 13 years old (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_UI_Automation), so if re-defining what an AccessibleDescription is, and how it is processed by the AAPIs is the question, then I suspect the answer is yes, it is too late.
>
> Taking this discussion in a slightly different direction, if we believe we need a general purpose aria attribute that *does* preserve structured markup, so that it can be used to link *long* descriptions to complex 'things' (including images) then I agree that we should pursue that, and the idea of an 'aria-describedat' has already been briefly discussed as something to look at in ARIA.next. However I think that trying to convert a Ferrari into an off-road vehicle is doomed to succeed.


OK, you've got my arguments exhausted. :-)
I think aria-describedat seems indeed necessary since I think a
generic means for long descriptions that can appear on multiple places
on the page or off-page is necessary (basically a mix between
@longdesc and @aria-describedby). I hope this discussion has been
useful to destill what the issues are and will make a discussion with
Jonas and others easier.

Regards,
Silvia.
Received on Sunday, 28 August 2011 08:12:08 GMT

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