W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > July 2007

Re: conflation of issues or convergence of interests?

From: Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>
Date: Sat, 28 Jul 2007 12:53:33 +1000
Message-ID: <46AAAFAD.1050100@lachy.id.au>
To: "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <oedipus@hicom.net>
CC: public-html@w3.org, wai-xtech@w3.org

Gregory J. Rosmaita wrote:
> lachlan wrote, quote:
> This is why we should avoid conflating accessibility issues with 
> technological barriers, i18n issues, and whatever else.  There is no 
> one-size-fits-all solution, and it doesn't help to pretend that one can 
> be developed.
> unquote
> 
> could you clarify precisely what you mean?

There seems to be some sort of misunderstanding between us.  From 
reading your message, I get the impression from you that you think I'm 
arguing against accessibility enhancements, and that HTML shouldn't 
address them at all.  That is not the case.

When I talk about conflating the issues of accessibility, technical 
limitations and internationalisation, I'm saying that we shouldn't treat 
them as being so closely related to each other, that they can all be 
addressed using the same solutions.  Yes, they are somewhat related in 
some cases, but they are not the same and they shouldn't be treated as 
such.  So, in the end, I think we are in agreement on this issue, it's 
just a misunderstanding of each others point of view.

> the purpose of HTMLx is to ensure that the web is usable for everyone
> -- from someone with a very  slow connection and a text-browser to
> someone who cannot see or use their hands to interact with a computer...
> 
> accessibility has always been the canary in the W3C coalmine -- what 
> you and others fail to grasp is that there IS cross-over between 
> internationalization issues and interoperability issues and general 
> usability;

I understand that.  I always have.  I'm well aware of how technical 
limitations, for example, can affect accessibility in some cases.  But 
that doesn't mean they are the same thing.

> no one is looking for a one-size-fits-all solution,  as
> that runs counter to the whole concept of accessibility,

Sander was suggesting that a full text alternative for video was a good 
solution because it addressed various accessibility issues and technical 
limitations.  That is the kind of one-size-fits-all methodology that I 
want to avoid.  Sure, if a full text alternative really is the best 
solution for some issues, great!  But I think would agree that we 
shouldn't pretend it can be the best solution for everything.

> accessibility issues ARE technical issues

Possibly, but not all technical issues are accessibility issues.  A 
bandwidth limitation, for example, is not an accessibility issue.  It 
may affect a user with accessibility issues, but that doesn't make it an 
accessibility issue itself.

> -- that's why the Web Accessibility Initiative exists -- to ensure 
> that there are multiple solutions AVAILABLE to the user in order to 
> fit the users' needs;

And that is exactly what I'm arguing for!  So, again, we are in agreement.

> no one is pretending to have a one-size-fits all solution, but if 
> a solution can provide for better accessiblity, better usability, 
> better internationalization, and is platform neutral, why should it 
> not fall under the HTML WG's purview

Each potential solution needs to be evaluated based on its own merits, 
and if one solution can address multiple problems, then great, that's 
one benefit for it.  But that doesn't mean we should settle for a 2nd 
rate solution that addresses multiple problems, instead of individual 
solutions that solve those problems better.

For the video example, I'm not arguing that full text alternatives 
shouldn't be provided and that HTML definitely shouldn't provide a way 
to include them.  I'm saying that we need to evaluate that approach, 
document its pros and cons and figure out if it is worth doing.  If it 
is, then we can look at how to do it.  For example, there a couple of 
possible solutions:

* Providing an ordinary link to the description alongside the video
   pro: already possible and easy to do.
   pro: makes it available to anyone who wants it, not just those with
        assistive technology that exposes it.
   con: ?

* Nesting the alternative content within the video.
   pro: the content is semantically associated with the video
   con: may not be readily available to anyone who wants it, only those
        with assistive technology that exposes it.
   con: past experience with object suggests that this may not be easy
        to implement.

There may be more pros and cons, and other solutions to consider.

> [...] in the interim, the fact remains that there is a need for 
> equivalent alternative content, which it is this WG's responsibility
> to provide the mechanisms for embedding and  exposing equivalent
> alternatives

That's a good argument for providing an alternative in HTML, even if 
such an alternative isn't the best solution to the problem overall.

> i also take issue with your example of downloading movie trailers -- 
> that trivializes the issue -- those of us with disabilities are trying
> to communicate with one another [...]

The movie trailer example was related to the bandwidth issue, *not* 
accessibility!  It doesn't trivialise accessibility issues because it is 
unrelated to them.

> what puzzles me is why there is such a fear of accessibility issues;

There is no fear of accessibility issues.  It's not a question of if we 
should provide for accessibility.  It's a question of finding and 
evaluating the best way to do it.

-- 
Lachlan Hunt
http://lachy.id.au/
Received on Saturday, 28 July 2007 02:53:52 GMT

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