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RE: ISSUE-30 longdesc - Chairs Solicit Alternate Proposals or Counter-Proposals

From: Ranon, Marco <Marco.Ranon@rnib.org.uk>
Date: Fri, 17 Jun 2011 16:17:51 +0100
Message-ID: <7BE2C6E5157992408EEFEC13F3C4792002357B5A@jstmsx02.ads.rnib.org.uk>
To: "Matthew Turvey" <mcturvey@gmail.com>, <public-html@w3.org>
Hi Matt,

I just wanted to point out that the RNIB Surf Right standards do not
recommend using longdesc, which is different from recommending not to
use longdesc.

We believe that longdesc has been badly - if not at all - implemented by
user agents (including assistive technology) and has been misunderstood
and misused by authors. And the two things are related as chicken and

From our experience, nowadays most screen readers support longdesc but
still it isn't available to sighted keyboard users.

This is why in Surf Right "we don't recommend the use of the LONGDESC
attribute because it isn't available to users without screen readers.
The long description should be made available to everyone who can't
process information conveyed in images, whether or not this inability is
sight related."

However, we require that if used, "LONGDESC attributes are used
appropriately and accurately".


Marco Ranon
Principal Web Access Consultant
RNIB Access Consultancy Services


-----Original Message-----
From: public-html-request@w3.org [mailto:public-html-request@w3.org] On
Behalf Of Matthew Turvey
Sent: 16 June 2011 16:54
To: public-html@w3.org
Subject: Re: ISSUE-30 longdesc - Chairs Solicit Alternate Proposals or

On 16 June 2011 03:13, Janina Sajka <janina@rednote.net> wrote:
> James Graham writes:
>> On 06/15/2011 03:54 PM, Janina Sajka wrote:
>> >Matthew Turvey writes:
>> >>longdesc is not implemented in Orca or VoiceOver so is currently
>> >
>> >Stop right there. Repeating untruths does not make them true.
>> >
>> > aobviously, you haven't looked at:
>> >
>> > html/wg/wiki/ChangeProposals/InstateLongdesc
>> Sorry, could you be more clear about what exactly you mean here? I
>> guessed that you might mean [1], but that doesn't seem to mention
>> VoiceOver or Orca at all.
>> A little internet searching suggests that longdesc might well not be
>> supported in Orca [2], VoiceOver [3] or, indeed, NVDA [4], so I am
>> as to what the "untruths" you refer to are. Has the level of support
>> those UAs changed recently?
> Nevertheless, Orca can access longdesc perfectly well via the Firefox
> plugin that is mentioned in the CP. In fact, I use it myself all the
> time.

I can't see any "untruths" here. Has the level of support in these UAs
changed recently? :)

Since Orca and VoiceOver do not currently implement support for
londesc, *by default* longdesc is inaccessible on the Mac and Linux

Users can install a Firefox longdesc extension, or maybe a Safari
longdesc extension in future. Maybe some have even heard of iCab. But
they need to know about it first, to be able to install it, as Jason's
experience demonstrates.

Users could also install an aria-describedby extension, but don't
necessarily need to because the element(s) pointed to by
aria-describedby are available on the page by default. Apologies if my
mangled sentences confused you.

> My friend Jason just wasn't aware he needed a plugin. Regretable--and
> needs remedy, but
> that doesn't invalidate the functionality that is available.

It does appear to invalidate your claim that longdesc currently "DOES
provide effective and consistent support for users regardless of
browser and AT".

This is why the RNIB's Surf Right standard explicitly recommends *not*
using longdesc, and WebAIM recommends using a duplicate link if using
longdesc. Longdesc is not available to all users, so you cannot rely
on it to deliver a "a reliable and effective user experience."

My understanding is PFWG members support obsoleting longdesc, but some
members believe we need more time to properly deprecate it. Is that
correct? Could you answer the questions from Sam's email?

1) WHO needs more time?
2) How much time would they LIKE?
3) How much time could they LIVE WITH?
4) What would be the IMPACT in terms of negative effects if they were
not provided that time?



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