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Re: 48-Hour Consensus Call: InstateLongdesc CP Update

From: Geoff Freed <geoff_freed@wgbh.org>
Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2012 21:52:01 +0000
To: John Foliot <john@foliot.ca>, Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>, "HTML Accessibility Task Force" <public-html-a11y@w3.org>
Message-ID: <A3CD72FE7CF8DE4B953A034D1982200C2FD92CF3@WSMBX2.wgbh.org>

One comment on John's recent post, below.

Geoff Freed

On Sep 18, 2012, at 5:16 PM, John Foliot wrote:


> Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
>> In addition to issues with these specific suggestions, keep in mind
>> that a previously raised concern with longdesc is that the corpus of
>> available longdesc content in the wild appears to have very high level
>> of bad content.
> I encourage you or others to provide specific proof of that assertion. 
> On one hand, we have professional content producers that are creating
> @longdesc content today (Pearson Publishing and the  Government of Canada to
> name 2), who, if nothing else, are probably quite good at document
> management practices. 
> (http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html-a11y/2012Sep/0210.html)  
> On the other hand, we have a 5-year old blog post from Mark Pilgrim
> (http://blog.whatwg.org/the-longdesc-lottery) that alludes to statistics
> that Ian Hickson accrued, but was unwilling to publicly share.
> Do you have any other "proof" of this assertion? Have you or anyone else
> "surveyed" the corpus recently to see if there have been any changes to this
> assertion over the past 5 years? (Note: I have not, but given that serious
> content publishers are now using this attribute routinely in their work, I
> can only surmise it has improved significantly - but feel free to dispute
> that claim with proof to the contrary.)

To bolster John's point, I'd like to say that there are efforts-- intense efforts-- underway to improve the quality of image descriptions.  For example, NCAM expends a large amount of time and effort every year training publishers, teachers and others in the art of writing long image descriptions.  I'm sure there are several others on this list who can (and, I hope, will) raise their hands and say the same thing about what they do.  And there's a five-year US-government-funded project underway right now to not only train people how to write descriptions for digital materials, but also to give them the tools with which to write them:  http://diagramcenter.org .  It's big and ambitious and will, in the long run, make a big difference in how people write image descriptions. 

The subjectivity of Maciej's assertion-- that image descriptions delivered via @longdesc are, largely speaking, of poor quality-- has always been bothersome.  It should not, in my view, be used to determine whether or not @longdesc is retained or removed.
Received on Tuesday, 18 September 2012 21:52:35 UTC

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