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RE: ISSUE-96 Change Proposal

From: John Foliot <jfoliot@stanford.edu>
Date: Thu, 1 Apr 2010 15:26:12 -0700 (PDT)
To: "'Shelley Powers'" <shelley.just@gmail.com>
Cc: "'Steven Faulkner'" <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>, "'Jonas Sicking'" <jonas@sicking.cc>, "'HTMLWG WG'" <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <01f201cad1ea$52d3dfd0$f87b9f70$@edu>
Shelley Powers wrote:
> John, CSS is nothing more than a "bolt-on" for style. RDFa and
> Microformats are a "bolt-on" for semantics. JavaScript is a "bolt-on"
> for behavior, come to that.
> What you call "bolt-on" most developers call extensibility and re-
> usability.

Accessibility cannot be 'extensible' in the same way that style, enhanced
semantics and even 'functionality' can be extensible. 

 * Accessibility advocates still suggest that for 'mission critical'
functionality, server-side scripting is better than client side (and the
popularity of PHP confirms this in many ways); yes, go ahead and use JS if
you can, but be prepared for the graceful degradation that you will likely
experience in some cases. 

 * Separating style from content aids accessibility, as it gives control
to the end user to modify aspects of the design to address specific
requirements/needs. (I wish it were easer across the board to load custom
client style sheets: it can be done but it is complex right now...)

 * Native semantics can be enhanced with RDFa and Microformats/Microdata,
but the native semantic construct is always the baseline: <div + attribute
of your choosing> can be styled, scripted and enhanced with semantic
additions, but it still lacks any core meaning - it will remain a
meaningless div first and foremost. 

Accessibility must be foundational, not extensible, in this regard. The
fact that ARIA seeks to 'extend' accessibility to elements and scripted
actions is actually not optimal, but is necessary today, as the original
HTML didn't account for these things. Moving forward, we *should* account
for as many as we can.

> But it will never be built in. You all seem to assume that really,
> there's only 20 or 30 built-in behaviors and once we have these, the
> job is done.
> This will never happen. The web is synonymous with innovation.

Right. And adding new, extensible <elements> contributes to and reflects
that innovation... or are you suggesting that we just dumb down to <div>
and then pile on the extensions? That seems counter-productive to me, and
limiting: an attribute cannot take on a child attribute can it?

> You know it's odd, but in all of the ARIA stuff I've read online,
> tutorials, articles, and specs, I've never read anyone who wrote,
> "This stuff is fun!"

Because, honestly, it really isn't.  It's important, but not fun, and
that's the rub right there. So if we can create elements that don't
require additional massaging to make accessible, that's a huge win,
because it *is* fun to create something new; it *is* fun to add slickeroo
styling to it; it *is* fun to add extended semantics using microformats,
etc.; but it's not fun doing stuff that the average author cannot tangibly
appreciate directly, because they don't need to use AT daily. The single
largest failure w.r.t. accessibility is that currently the only way to get
huge chunks of your code accessible is to do additional work - the current
'native' code does not provide it. Surely we can innovate and do better
than that; semantically appropriate elements extends the extensibility
even further.

> When you coach things as a "serious duty", don't be surprised if the
> reaction is equivalent to telling a 6 year old to eat his broccoli,
> because it's good for him.
> You can ask Kathy Sierra and Molly if I'm right on this.

I know Molly quite well, and I've done my fair share of stand up and
dog-and-pony shows in my time. Trust me, I know how to actually 'sell'
this stuff myself, been doing it for over a decade.  Right now, your
suggestion is to continue to tell authors to eat their broccoli (here: use
ARIA), while the newer proposals are closer to "...we'll hide the veggies
in a fruit drink[1], or blend it into the pizza sauce[2]...", fruit drinks
and pizza being *way more fun* than broccoli...

> Appreciated. I hope I don't seem overly aggressive. I should stop,
> pull back, and take this up on my weblog.

No worries, it's a worthwhile discussion.


[1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V8_(beverage)#V8_Fruit_.26_Vegetable_Juice
[2 http://www.ehow.com/how_2204294_sneak-vegetables-pizza.html] 
Received on Thursday, 1 April 2010 22:26:46 UTC

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