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Longdesc thoughts

From: David MacDonald <david100@sympatico.ca>
Date: Fri, 27 Jan 2012 10:33:40 -0500
Message-ID: <BLU0-SMTP76945EBBC36947D72A3FF6FE8E0@phx.gbl>
To: "'Silvia Pfeiffer'" <silviapfeiffer1@gmail.com>, "'John Foliot'" <john@foliot.ca>, <public-html-a11y@w3.org>
CC: "'Steve Faulkner'" <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>, "'Michael Cooper'" <cooper@w3.org>, "'Judy Brewer'" <jbrewer@w3.org>
This is my first post on the Accessibility Task Force (have been on WCAG2
since 2002).

Yesterday, I trained a 12 person QA team in the Canadian Government
responsible for monitoring accessibility for a large department. They have
reviewed 10,000's of pages over the years. I asked their experience with
Longdesc out in the wild. They said it was rarely used, and when it was, it
was implemented wrongly, such as: 

<img scr="..." longdesc="a whole bunch of prose describing the image">

This type of response seems to echoed wherever I go. 
It appears even though it was a good idea, longdesc has not got much more
traction than the "D" link within Government which tends to follow standards
more closely than the private sector here in Canada.

Perhaps we should let longdesc go and as a team come to an agreement on a
standard way to hide long descriptions visually (not programmatically)
within <summary>, <figcaption> and aria-describedby.
Perhaps also allow a link to an external Long Description page within these
elements/attributes. 

Would that address the concern that there needs to be a way to take long
descriptions out of the visual layout, if authors desire? Would it also
avoid the imminent head on battle over longdesc.

Cheers
David MacDonald

... access empowers ...
                 ... barriers disable ...
www.eramp.com 
Received on Friday, 27 January 2012 15:34:17 GMT

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