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Re: acceptable fallbacks [was: Re: Is longdesc a good solution? ...]

From: Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>
Date: Fri, 12 Sep 2008 13:20:27 +0200
To: "Henri Sivonen" <hsivonen@iki.fi>, "Dave Singer" <singer@apple.com>
Cc: "Justin James" <j_james@mindspring.com>, "'David Poehlman'" <david.poehlman@handsontechnologeyes.com>, "'Jim Jewett'" <jimjjewett@gmail.com>, "'HTML WG'" <public-html@w3.org>, wai-xtech@w3.org
Message-ID: <op.uhc8gdecwxe0ny@widsith.local>

On Fri, 12 Sep 2008 11:52:51 +0200, Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi> wrote:

> On Sep 12, 2008, at 03:52, Dave Singer wrote:
>> So saying that 'because some people without a disability might want X,  
>> therefore X should not be treated as an accessibility question' is a  
>> non-sequitur, to me.
> My point is that the moral characteristics of a feature-motivating use  
> case are different depending on whether the use case is about a  
> disability or whether it's merely a matter of preference.

Which is very true.

> Obscuring the accessibility issues with matters of preference in these  
> already overlong email threads doesn't seem productive.

In principle. However, since part of basic accessibility engineering is to  
ensure that users can act on what amount to their preferences (the rest is  
enumerating the kinds of preferences people might have, and ensuring that  
those sets in particular can be catered for in a given design), it is not  
a bad approach to use.

So yes we need to keep the accessibility requirements foremost in  
assessing a solution, but the preference-style selection mechanism that is  
distributed between the user, the user agent, the content provider and the  
content producer is a fundamental part of those requirements

>> There is no 'fallback chain for deaf-blind users'.  There is material  
>> to enhance accessibility.  Why you might want it or need it is none of  
>> my business.  It *is* available to all users.
> If the user needs to go flip settings to indicate no visual content and  
> no audio content in order to discover a transcript, then it's not  
> available to all users *for practical purposes*.

That depends on where those switches are. But in general, I agree that  
this would be poor design. On the other hand, forcing people to put all  
the content directly into a page with big visible links simply won't fly.  
The zillions of dollars put into techniques for hiding stuff in the  
misguided hope that they still appear for the people who need them (image  
replacements, stuff positioned off-screen, and so on) show that designers  
would rather expend considerable effort and money than actually make the  
data visible.

Perhaps it is more effective to allow for an explicitly hidden set of  
related content, and for the user to select in the browser those things  
they happen to want. This now sort of works with language. In the  
accessibility case people are often learning to use a large range of  
settings, or a completely additional piece of technology. Some people  
never realise how much assistance they could get, which is a shame, but on  
the flip side trying to get designers to do things that are apparently  
fundamentally against their nature (e.g. put visible content where they  
don't want it) doesn't seem to lead to improved results.

> That's why an automatic alternative selection chain isn't the (only)  
> place where a transcript should be put.

It certainly isn't the only place it *should* be put. But a lot of  
experience suggests that it is an important place to put it.


Charles McCathieNevile  Opera Software, Standards Group
     je parle français -- hablo español -- jeg lærer norsk
http://my.opera.com/chaals   Try Opera 9.5: http://www.opera.com
Received on Friday, 12 September 2008 11:21:51 UTC

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