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RE: Call for Consensus (CFC) to move forward the HTML5 Image Description Extension spec for publication (FPWD)

From: Geoff Freed <geoff_freed@wgbh.org>
Date: Wed, 28 Nov 2012 00:23:55 +0000
To: Matthew Turvey <mcturvey@gmail.com>, HTML Accessibility Task Force <public-html-a11y@w3.org>
Message-ID: <A3CD72FE7CF8DE4B953A034D1982200C2FF06068@WSMBX1.wgbh.org>

Regarding this comment:

> * Geoff Freed is currently compiling evidence for the Task Force that
> some educational publishers might be about to start using longdesc. It
> may be worth waiting until we have that evidence available.


Hmmm... my apologies, as it appears that I've overlooked an assignment (not an unusual phenomenon...).  Here's what I can say right now:  publishers are a private bunch, and I can almost guarantee you that few, if any, will admit publicly that they are describing images with @longdesc or any other method.  The publishers that work with NCAM all require NDAs so I cannot divulge specific information about our activities with them.  Given this secrecy, you'll have to trust NCAM's non-profit, we-love-everyone-equally reputation in the industry when I say that publishers that deliver books to US markets are all worried about long image descriptions, and some are, in fact, using @longdesc to deliver descriptions or are making plans to do so in the near future.  Really.

Having said this, I'll speak to some of the publishers with whom we work to see if any would be willing to share information about image-description plans.  I will attempt to make good on this within a week.  

I'd also like to just reiterate my support for moving this thing forward to FPWD.  As Charles has stated elsewhere (http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html-a11y/2012Oct/0033.html), the idea of the extension spec is to get @longdesc specified as quickly (and perhaps as minimally?) as possible so that there's something "legally" in place in HTML5 while something else more versatile and useful is invented or developed to take its place.  

Geoff Freed
WGBH/NCAM



________________________________________
From: Matthew Turvey [mcturvey@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 6:00 PM
To: HTML Accessibility Task Force
Subject: Re: Call for Consensus (CFC) to move forward the HTML5 Image  Description Extension spec for publication (FPWD)

On 20 November 2012 12:15, Steve Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com> wrote:

> We are calling for consensus on the HTML5 Image Description Extension
> specification [1]

> Is this specification ready to be put forward by the Task force to the HTML
> WG and the Protocols and Formats WG for consideration for publication as a
> first public working draft (FPWD)?
>
> [1]
> http://dvcs.w3.org/hg/html-proposals/raw-file/4893614e89f2/longdesc1/longdesc.html

I object to publishing this specification as FPWD:

* None of the use cases (except Teaching Accessible Development)
appear to specifically require longdesc. It seems these scenarios can
already be better addressed with existing, widely supported techniques
eg:

<a href="description"><img src="image" alt="*the purpose of the link*"
style="border:0"></a>

or:

http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG-TECHS/G73.html
http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG-TECHS/G74.html

* The Teaching Accessible Development use case could be perceived as
arguing for imposing a complexity tax on people with disabilities
solely for the benefit of the accessibility training industry. I'm not
sure this is a message we want to promote.

* People with cognitive impairments or low educational attainment,
non-native language speakers, people with visual impairments who do
not use AT but would benefit from an image description, people who
appreciate reading a long description of a well-known artwork in
addition to viewing the image, etc, cannot easily access an
imperceivable longdesc link and face being completely locked out.
Effective accessibility techniques should remove barriers to access,
not introduce new barriers.

* If there is a use case that specifically requires programmatic
determinability of a long description link as distinct from a normal
link, but is not satisfied by using rel=longdesc, this should be
included.

* Geoff Freed is currently compiling evidence for the Task Force that
some educational publishers might be about to start using longdesc. It
may be worth waiting until we have that evidence available.

* We haven't addressed the objections from the original HTMLWG poll
and decision, in particular:

    "ample evidence that longdesc has been so badly abused in practice
that preserving it gives the pretense of serving accessibility while,
in fact, not providing it."

    "no stated reason that this feature will actually be used more in
the coming 10 years than it has in the past 10 years"

    "Many objected to inclusion of features in the language that have
proven to be problematic and don't support any known use cases."

http://www.w3.org/2002/09/wbs/40318/issue-30-objection-poll/results
http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2010Aug/att-0112/issue-30-decision.html

* Sam Ruby previously suggested a course correction may be required on
longdesc, citing the absence of correct longdesc usage in Steve
Faulkner's survey of the top 10,000 website home pages. Is this spec
the kind of course correction that will convince HTMLWG members to
support longdesc?

* One possible course correction could be spec'ing longdesc only for
use in walled-gardens: i.e. that longdesc should only be used in
closed environments, where accessibility specialists can ensure users
have the required software installed, can train users to access
longdesc and can control the quality of the walled-garden's longdesc
content, and it should not be used on the Web.

-Matt
Received on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 00:24:28 UTC

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