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Re: Accessibility: Re: Path to Last Call (was closing various issues)

From: William Loughborough <wloughborough@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 31 Aug 2009 10:24:02 -0700
Message-ID: <1e3451610908311024g599a5a60m6103c3408701249a@mail.gmail.com>
To: Jim Jewett <jimjjewett@gmail.com>
Cc: HTML WG Public List <public-html@w3.org>, wai-xtech@w3.org
I don't speak for anyone but one old geezer so take the following with that
caveat.

Most people in the "Accessibility Group" (I really hate that sort of
labeling because everybody claims to be, and should be in that "group") are
only minimally programmers and even less developers. They are far more
passionate about all this so tend to rant a lot, particularly when it's
their most cherished symbols (alt, longdesc, etc.) that SEEM to be being
"threatened", even when others don't see any real threats being made. I am
probably one of the worst offenders in this regard and I make no apology for
said passion. I've been working in this field for close to half a century
and the gains have really been very hard won and on the whole rare.

I know that those you mention are trying to reach out, but it's fairly clear
that until the A11y Group are convinced that they REALLY care about these
matters at a visceral level, rather than a "talk the talk" one, it's almost
impossible to give their efforts much credence. I'm sorry about that part
but I hope it's understood because it's quite a bit reminiscent of the 1930s
religious bigots' excuse: "some of my best friends are Jews" or the child of
a Klansman excusing himself from Civil Rights matters with : "I never owned
slaves." I still don't know if any of the programmer/developers have truly
walked in our shoes by going at least a full day without using monitor or
mouse, e.g. That experience is sort of revealing and even mind-blowing and I
recommend it highly. Knowing it in an intellectual sense is quite different
from experiencing it. A frequent metaphor is much of this for PWD is like
"reading through a straw".

I don't really know how many of my "colleagues" side with me in this
analysis about how we seem to be like ships passing in the night. I hope,
however fruitlessly, that this helps.

Love.

On Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 9:48 AM, Jim Jewett <jimjjewett@gmail.com> wrote:

> > Are we really saying something
> > like "have mercy on the poor beleaguered developers for being imposed
> upon
> > by being "required" to do something "just for accessibility"?
>
> > "Oh, why must we *force* authors to do alt-text well, it's just for
> > accessibility, isn't it? Perhaps if we can show some 'business case' for
> it,
> > we can get it done."
>
> I think a better description would be:
>
> Authors *are* lazy.  Anything strictly for accessibility *will*
> usually be done very badly.  The actual state of things is so bad that
> even getting authors to ignore accessibility hooks (as opposed to
> putting in false information) can be a minor win.  We *can't* force
> them to do a better job, or at least no one has yet come up with a
> method that actually works to force them.
>
> The disagreement is on what to do about that.
>
> To a programmer, it sounds like the Accessibility folks are saying
> "More of the Same!  Just Try Harder!", and the programmers hear "Keep
> beating your head against the wall!".
>
> The programmers prefer a solution like "Automate the accessibility, so
> that it works despite lazy authors!".  Unfortunately, this sounds to
> accessibility advocates like "We can probably fix that in the next
> version, so don't worry."  And they're used to broken promises...
>
> If the gap isn't breached, then the programmers get discouraged and
> settle for saying the problem isn't solvable (and isn't new), and the
> advocates feel disrespected.
>
> To bridge the gap:
>
>    Programmers have to come up with some viable proposals first.
>
>    Accessibility Advocates have to evaluate these proposals seriously.
>
>    Someone (product managers?) has to make a public commitment that
> these improved solutions will actually get in to the products, once
> there is agreement.
>
> My admittedly biased perspective is that the programmers have taken
> some first steps, but the "meeting halfway" part was a missed
> connection.  I assume some advocates see it differently, but please
> don't hesitate to repeat yourselves -- I doubt I was the only one who
> missed the responses.
>
> Specific Examples:
>
> (1)
> The proposals to autogenerate summary were genuine offers.  There were
> questions about what *should* go in a summary, so that it could be
> done right, or at least no worse than what is out there today.
>
> The advocates expressed some interest, but there was never a clear
> enough explanation of what *should* go in the summary.  There was
> never an explanation of what Assisted Technology already filters out.
> (It filters out some bad summaries, but which ones?  Does it already
> go out and get Table Headers on its own, for sensibly authored
> tables?)
>
> Nor was there specific feedback saying "This algorithm is good enough"
> or "This is missing X, Y, and Z".  I even tried posting modifications
> to the summary for the specific example table, but no one ever said
> "This particular automatic summary would/would not be sufficient."
>
> (2)  To programmers, aria looks like a good solution.  It should
> supersede some of the bolted-on accessibility.  But the details of how
> to integrate it seemed to be a minefield of hurt feelings.  (Do you
> still need "alt" even if you have aria-labelled-by and
> aria-described-by?  I *think* the answer is "yes", because the label
> assumes you can see the image too, but described-by text is likely to
> be too long, but this is still only an assumption -- and it wasn't my
> first understanding.)
>
> I have seen at least two attempts to integrate aria with html
> (Hsivonen and Ian Hixie); in neither case did I see feedback specific
> enough to drive it to completion.  I have heard of another done by the
> PFWG, but since I can't see it ... it isn't useful to me.
>
> I understand that the PFWG works much more formally (and therefore
> much more slowly), but ... it isn't always clear how long to wait.
>
> -jJ
>



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Received on Monday, 31 August 2009 17:28:43 UTC

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