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RE: 48-Hour Consensus Call: InstateLongdesc CP Update

From: Geoff Freed <geoff_freed@wgbh.org>
Date: Sun, 23 Sep 2012 20:16:47 +0000
To: James Craig <jcraig@apple.com>
CC: HTML Accessibility Task Force <public-html-a11y@w3.org>
Message-ID: <A3CD72FE7CF8DE4B953A034D1982200C2FDAFC67@WSMBX2.wgbh.org>

Hi, James:

Historically, I think you're correct-- some publishers in the academic world have ignored options like @alt or @longdesc despite best efforts to urge them to do otherwise.  However, that industry is now under a lot of pressure (in the U.S., at least) to deliver accessible materials to classrooms; hence a change in attitude.    

Publishers are, however, loathe to publicly share or reveal their plans regarding content, delivery or technical approach.  For my part, the best I can tell you right now is that NCAM works closely with several major publishers, none of whom I can name, and they're all facing the same problem of how to deliver image descriptions to people who can't see the image.  The best available option has been @longdesc, so that's what they're using now or are gearing up to use.  I can also say that if HTML5 offers a better option for long image descriptions-- one that doesn't force everyone to see the description but which can be recognized by screen readers or other AT, or which can be revealed to sighted users as a preference-- they'll probably migrate toward that.  But for now, @longdesc is it (despite the fact that AT/browser support isn't necessary stellar).

What textbook publishers make available to the general public-- that is, non-students who just want to take a look at a textbook-- doesn't necessarily reveal their complete offerings in terms of content so I'm not surprised that you're unable to find anything very useful.  What I can try to do is speak to our contacts to see if anyone is willing to reveal plans or statistics, or even samples, regarding image descriptions.  If so, I'll post that info to the list.  

Just for the record, I think that @longdesc *should* be improved.  If the name remains the same, fine.  If it changes or is moved to ARIA, fine.  I just don't want it to go away before that new Thing is available.


From: James Craig [jcraig@apple.com]
Sent: Friday, September 21, 2012 9:18 PM
To: Geoff Freed
Cc: HTML Accessibility Task Force
Subject: Re: 48-Hour Consensus Call: InstateLongdesc CP Update

On Sep 17, 2012, at 2:13 PM, Geoff Freed <geoff_freed@wgbh.org> wrote:

> I support it as well.  Publishers in America have used it extensively in the past and are continuing to use it today as it's the best *available* method to deliver long descriptions to students that need them.

Hi Geoff,

I keep hearing this claim, but I haven't seen any evidence of it. I'm not trying to be contrary; I'm genuinely curious to find this evidence that many people speak of, as all of my searching has shown that most publishers can't even be bothered to include @alt text, let alone @longdesc.

Can you point me to any publishers catalog that uses longdesc extensively, frequently? At all? I haven't even found one that uses it rarely.

Received on Sunday, 23 September 2012 20:17:20 UTC

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