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usefulness of longdesc & digitization of books & historical works [was Re: fear of "invisible metadata"]

From: Gregory J. Rosmaita <oedipus@hicom.net>
Date: Sun, 24 Jun 2007 16:12:52 -0400
To: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>, wai-xtech@w3.org
Cc: James Graham <jg307@cam.ac.uk>, joshue.oconnor@cfit.ie
Message-Id: <20070624195854.M83755@hicom.net>

aloha, josh!

Joshue wrote, quote:
For what its worth, I am not sure how useful LONGDESC actually is. In
over two years of extensive user testing and my own work/research with
my blind and visually impaired colleagues I have vary rarely (if ever)
come across it. That not to say that it is not useful in its own right,
I just haven't seen it
unquote

LONGDESC is indispensible for anyone attempting to perform serious 
academic work via the web.  increasingly, colleges and universities 
are incorporating online ciriccula into all aspects of learning -- on 
campus, off-campus, long-distance, etc. in many jurisdictions, this 
means ensuring EQUAL access to all course content - consult:

Policies Relating to Web Accessibility:
  * http://www.w3.org/WAI/Policy/

here is an example drawn from real life (shorter than that archived 
at example i posted to the list earlier today:
<http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2007Jun/0640.html>)

when encountering a portrait of Lord Cornwallis, it isn't sufficient 
to simply caption the image "Portrait of Lord Cornwallis, ca. 1774" 
-- the student of the subject needs to know precisely how Lord 
Cornwallis is portrayed -- how old was he at the time of the 
portrait?  what kind of hairstyle does he sport?  what type of 
uniform?  what do the buttons on the uniform signify?  what is his 
rank, based on the eppalettes?  what are the items that are included 
in the portrait, particularly those held by, or within reach of, the 
portrait's subject, for all such items have both symbolic and highly 
specific meanings, all of which the painter assumed would be 
understood by the viewer.

i know personally of professors who use LONGDESC and any reference 
material worth its weight in bytes MUST include LONGDESC so that the 
specifics of the image can be conveyed as completely and as thuroughly 
as would a careful, informed study of the actual portrait.

the historically minded amongst you might be interested in the 
Fine Rolls of Henry III Project:

http://www.finerollshenry3.org.uk/content/about/about.html

the heartening thing about this process is that it will not result in 
digitalized images of henry III's fine rolls, but that they will be 
mounted on the web using XML:

http://www.finerollshenry3.org.uk/content/about/technical.html

unlike the google digitization effort, which is using plain text scans 
of source documents to catagorize and provide a quick search 
interface of a work are by-products of the digitalization process, 
although most of the end-products are completely unusable to 
those who cannot see or (in the case of a refreshable braille display 
user) feel -- could they not work out an arrangement with national 
libraries for the blind and physically handicapped world-wide which 
would make the contents of the digitized wisdom of the ages, as well
as the lowest doggerel, TRULY accessible to all...

-----------------------------------------------------
HISTORIAN, n.  A broad-gauge gossip.
               Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary
-----------------------------------------------------
Gregory J. Rosmaita, oedipus@hicom.net
Camera Obscura: http://www.hicom.net/~oedipus/
Oedipus' Online Complex: http://my.opera.com/oedipus
-----------------------------------------------------

---------- Original Message -----------
From: Joshue O Connor <joshue.oconnor@cfit.ie>
To: James Graham <jg307@cam.ac.uk>
Cc: "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <oedipus@hicom.net>, HTML WG <public-
html@w3.org>
Sent: Mon, 18 Jun 2007 23:08:48 +0100
Subject: Re: fear of "invisible metadata" [was Re: retention of summary 
attribute   for TABLE element]

> >> you wouldn't deprecate ALT or LONGDESC would you
> > 
> > Actually, longdesc is not included in the current draft of HTML5. Are 
there a non-negligible number of sites that actually use longdesc in a 
useful way?
> 
> For what its worth, I am not sure how useful LONGDESC actually 
> is. In over two years of extensive user testing and my own 
> work/research with my blind and visually impaired colleagues I 
> have vary rarely (if ever) come across it. That not to say that 
> it is not useful in its own right, I just haven't seen it.
> 
> Josh
------- End of Original Message -------
Received on Sunday, 24 June 2007 20:13:16 UTC

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