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Re: Clarification of rational for deprecation of @longdesc and @summary

From: Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2008 13:18:28 +0100
To: "Richard Schwerdtfeger" <schwer@us.ibm.com>, "Ian Hickson" <ian@hixie.ch>
Cc: "Joshue O Connor" <joshue.oconnor@cfit.ie>, "HTML WG" <public-html@w3.org>, public-html-request@w3.org
Message-ID: <op.t6py42qvwxe0ny@widsith.lan>

On Mon, 18 Feb 2008 12:24:52 +0100, Richard Schwerdtfeger  
<schwer@us.ibm.com> wrote:

> If wai-aria goes in we have an aria-describedby property which can
> reference an area of the document allowing for the prose to be associated
> with the image. longdesc is almost never used as people want to use the
> same prose in the original document.

I doubt that is the reason - there is nothing in the spec that says you  
cannot do that. The ARIA attribute would be more widely applicable, but I  
don't see it replacing longdesc given that there is a small amount of  
content (rather less than 1% of the web, whch only means more than I have  
read in my entire life) that uses longdesc correctly. If people don't use  
longdesc correctly then we should figure out why, since describedBy is the  
same thing with a different name, and we might expect the same mistakes to  
be made in the wild.



> Rich
> Rich Schwerdtfeger
> Distinguished Engineer, SWG Accessibility Architect/Strategist
> Chair, IBM Accessibility Architecture Review  Board
> blog: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/blogs/page/schwer
>             Ian Hickson
>              <ian@hixie.ch>
>              Sent by:                                                    
> To
>              public-html-reque         Joshue O Connor
>              st@w3.org                 <joshue.oconnor@cfit.ie>
>                                                                         cc
>                                        HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
>              02/05/2008 01:40                                       
> Subject
>              PM                        Re: Clarification of rational for
>                                        deprecation of @longdesc and
>                                        @summary
> On Tue, 5 Feb 2008, Joshue O Connor wrote:
>> I am wondering if you could expand a little on your response.
>> > I also think longdesc="" and summary="" have thought us that placing
>> > attributes for specific disabilities into the language itself will
>> > result in overwhelming abuse to the point where the target audience of
>> > those features actually have to turn them off.
>> I guess you are referring to using @summary for black hat SEO, but even
>> so, is this a solid enough reason to drop it from the HTML 5 spec?
> The summary="" attribute hasn't been studied as carefully as longdesc="",
> so it's probably easiest to look at the longdesc="" data (though
> eventually we will of course have to look at summary="" specifically as
> well). For longdesc="", it's pretty clear that the attribute is used so
> rarely, and when used, is so overwhelmingly often used in a way that  
> would
> annoy users, that I simply cannot see a scenario on the open Web where a
> user would actually benefit from a user agent impementing the longdesc=""
> attribute. I would imagine that summary="" (and other attributes, as in
> the context of my original missive) would be subject to similar abuse.
> Obviously, for existing attributes, we would have to continue doing
> research to determine whether the attribute is used usefully enough to be
> usable; for new attributes, we have to use our design judgement based on
> research and experience with existing features.
> Mark Pilgrim summarised the longdesc="" research in his controversial
> article on the WHATWG blog:
>    http://blog.whatwg.org/the-longdesc-lottery
>> FWIW @summary is a very, very practical and useful attribute for screen
>> reader users
> Well, as noted above, I haven't yet done much research on summary="",  
> it's
> waiting with all the other table issues. However, with all due respect,
> one of the most convincing pieces of research I have seen examining
> summary="" -- and most excellent research it was -- was your own  
> usability
> study video, which showed a screen reader user dismiss summary="" out of
> hand as being useless and annoying (paraphrasing from memory). Indeed, in
> that video, it was only after prompting that the subject acknowledged  
> that
> the attribute could theoretically have some use. When the target audience
> dismisses the feature, and the authors dismiss the feature, and the only
> people left saying that the feature is useful are self-appointed  
> advocates
> for the feature (no offense intended, I'm a self-appointed editor!), it  
> is
> usually worth reconsidering whether anyone is really benefitting from the
> feature. (With summary="", though, I haven't yet studied enough data to
> really be able to say with certainty what the conclusion should be.)
>> Surely even new and hitherto undreamed of attributes and elements are
>> potentially as susceptible to misuse - but is this a solid reason for
>> not developing them?
> We must design a language that is more likely to be used correctly than
> wrongly, yes.
> --
> Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
> http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
> Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

Charles McCathieNevile  Opera Software, Standards Group
     je parle français -- hablo español -- jeg lærer norsk
http://my.opera.com/chaals   Try Opera 9.5: http://snapshot.opera.com
Received on Monday, 18 February 2008 12:24:52 UTC

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