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Re: 48-Hour Consensus Call: ARIA-DescribedAT & Longdesc

From: Matthew Turvey <mcturvey@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2012 12:06:49 +0100
Message-ID: <CAFp5+AqTaZ3thKxRqgMy2JLxo-6coveKb0N-pHS7WgCTyrkwng@mail.gmail.com>
To: HTML Accessibility Task Force <public-html-a11y@w3.org>
On 29 March 2012 17:45, Janina Sajka <janina@rednote.net> wrote:
> Colleagues:
>
> On 29 March last the HTML-A11Y Task Force teleconference meeting
> reached consensus as follows:
>
> RESOLUTION: The HTML-A11Y Task Force confirms that ARIA-DescribedAT will
> not be ready for HTML 5 in HTML 5's currently published timeframe, and
> therefore reaffirms its support of Laura's authored CP to reinstate
> longdesc (Issue-30).
>
> The TF resolution, together with minutes of the discussion leading up to
> it, is logged at:
> http://www.w3.org/2012/03/29-html-a11y-minutes.html#item03
>
> As usual, if there is objection to this consensus position, please
> respond by replying to this message no later than close of business,
> Boston Time, on Monday 2 April.

I object to this consensus position. I don't see any benefits in
keeping longdesc conforming in HTML5 when:

 - Support for longdesc in browsers and AT is poor and has been so for
many years.

 - Adding a longdesc without an alternative method of access to the
long description results in many users with disabilities being unable
to access the content or even being aware that the content is there.

as previously noted by Steve Faulkner on this list:
http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html-a11y/2012Mar/0063.html

Also note RNIB and WebAIM already recommend using a normal link
instead of longdesc and have done so for many years, and authoring
reference sites like SitePoint and W3Schools already advise authors to
use a normal link instead of longdesc and have done so for many years.
See:

http://www.w3.org/html/wg/wiki/ChangeProposals/LongdescZeroEdit#Problems_with_Longdesc

So I don't see any benefits in the W3C delaying officially obsoleting
longdesc any longer. Most of the web sector has already obsoleted
longdesc and moved on years ago anyway.

Using a normal link with appropriate link/alt text, optionally
enhanced with aria-describedby or rel=longdesc where required, is the
only practical, reliable and effective way to provide accessible
off-page long descriptions at the current time and this will remain
the case for the foreseeable future. In my view, this is the approach
the HTML-A11Y-TF and WAI should be recommending.

-Matt
Received on Friday, 30 March 2012 11:07:20 UTC

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