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Re: Investigating the proposed alt attribute recommendations in HTML 5

From: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2007 14:40:56 +0300
Message-Id: <30C8BAE3-5E49-4C1C-8944-7CC7E89756E1@iki.fi>
Cc: "Steven Faulkner" <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>, "HTMLWG" <public-html@w3.org>, <wai-xtech@w3.org>
To: David Poehlman <david.poehlman@handsontechnologeyes.com>

On Sep 11, 2007, at 13:31, David Poehlman wrote:

> What would you like jaws to do?

I think that isn't quite the right question. I think the right  
question is, what blind Web users would prefer to hear with the  
constraint that another human can't be consulted and only software  
heuristics can be used.

Without knowing the actual preferences blind users have, the  
following are guesses off the top of my head. I imagine each of these  
to surpass what JAWS does:
  * Saying "image". (Even this is better than reading the Flickr file  
names!)
  * Playing an beep or "aural icon" that takes less time to play than  
the speech engine takes to say "image".
  * Playing a different aural icon based on image dimensions, format,  
EXIF presence, color histogram and advance statistics on these  
properties so that the aural icon represents a probabilistic  
categorization as photo, thumbnail photo, illustration, icon,  
advertisement, etc.
  * Reading the file name if (and only if) the file name consists of  
segments that are words found in a dictionary of the language that  
the speech generator speaks.

> Jaws is not a voice browser.

I didn't mean to suggest it were. I was using "voice browsing" to  
refer to both browsing with browsers that are designed to talk and  
with graphical browser plus screen reader combinations.

> If your question is: "what woulmost popular also which if we are is  
> a flawed
> approach since as I said with jaws, html5 should not focus on internet
> explorer but rather focus on what the community needs and how to  
> provide it.
> If this is is the case, I am happy.

I am asking what kind of improvements to screen readers are realistic  
within, say, the next 7 years. As a software developer, I can assess  
what kinds of problems are algorithmically solvable and I think I  
understand market dynamics as they relate to server-side development  
and to browser development. I don't understand the market dynamics of  
screen readers, though.

> If we are focusing on IE, we need to back up and redirect.

It would sure be nice if we had the freedom to think past the current  
versions of JAWS as used with IE.

> The answer
> is that when you see it in the ua parsing engine, if it is  
> propperly parced,
> we'll see it soon after in the screenless desktop environments.

The division of work between the browser and the speaking desktop  
environment is an implementation detail that should not be prescribed  
in the markup spec. However, if, due to market dynamics or whatever  
inertia, vendors of speaking desktop environments simply won't  
improve the treatment of images that lack alternative text, perhaps  
the spec should suggest that it would be good for the user experience  
if the browsers took over and faked an alt text.

> The user agent is not mentioned here but it seems that we are  
> talking about
> the

It appears that the rest of your message got cut off.

-- 
Henri Sivonen
hsivonen@iki.fi
http://hsivonen.iki.fi/
Received on Tuesday, 11 September 2007 11:41:18 GMT

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