# Re: Comment on WAI-ARIA Role

From: Richard Schwerdtfeger <schwer@us.ibm.com>
Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2008 13:18:53 -0600
To: Aaron M Leventhal <aleventh@us.ibm.com>
Cc: "Neil Soiffer" <Neils@dessci.com>, public-pfwg-comments@w3.org, w3c-wai-pf@w3.org, w3c-wai-pf-request@w3.org
Message-ID: <OFE3ABB5E7.62CEF3ED-ON862573FB.006A13E7-862573FB.006A19BE@us.ibm.com>

yes. but what will you then do with the image?

Rich Schwerdtfeger
Distinguished Engineer, SWG Accessibility Architect/Strategist
Chair, IBM Accessibility Architecture Review  Board
blog: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/blogs/page/schwer

Aaron M
Leventhal/Cambrid
ge/IBM                                                     To
Richard
02/25/2008 01:59          Schwerdtfeger/Austin/IBM@IBMUS
AM                                                         cc
"Neil Soiffer" <Neils@dessci.com>,
w3c-wai-pf@w3.org,
w3c-wai-pf-request@w3.org
Subject
Re: Comment on WAI-ARIA Role
Schwerdtfeger)

The solution is a very simple change for Firefox 3 and we can get it in.

I like it as a KISS solution for all the image-based math out there.

- Aaron

Richard
Schwerdtfeger/Aus
tin/IBM@IBMUS                                              To
Sent by:                  "Neil Soiffer" <Neils@dessci.com>
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w3c-wai-pf@w3.org,
w3c-wai-pf-request@w3.org
02/24/2008 11:23                                      Subject
PM                        Re: Comment on WAI-ARIA Role

Hi Neil,

Thank you for the request. WAI-ARIA 1.0 is very close to last call and we
are trying to lock it down. Also, one of our key implementations, Firefox
3, is close to being locked down. So, we will discuss this but at this
point it is very unlikely we can get this into 1.0. Also, if we were to add
a new role there are a number of people waiting in the wings that would
like to be considered and this would open up the flood gates.

We have talked about the follow-on for 1.0 and we have been talking about
extensibility for that. Is there a math handler that can do math
interpretation from an image?

I have to ask though:  Would it not be better to create a taxonomy for Math
than simply calling something a Math object type?

Rich

Rich Schwerdtfeger
Distinguished Engineer, SWG Accessibility Architect/Strategist
Chair, IBM Accessibility Architecture Review  Board
blog: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/blogs/page/schwer

"Neil Soiffer"
<Neils@dessci.com>
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Subject
Comment on WAI-ARIA Role

I work for Design Science, which is a W3C member.  I am a member of the
MathML Working Group and have been since its inception.  I am also chair of
the DAISY/Math Working Group.  That WG developed a spec that added MathML
to DAISY; it was approved about a year ago.  Our company developed
MathPlayer, the standard "plug-in" for IE to display MathML both visually
and aurally.  MathPlayer works with JAWS, Window-Eyes, TextHELP, and other
AT to make math encoded with MathML accessible.  It is capable of
generating speech, synchronized highlighting, and braille from the MathML.

I have a request for an additional "role" to further support math
accessibility.  First, some context...

Because of browser implementation issues, MathML adoption has not been as
widespread as it should otherwise be.  A lot of people/sites, including
wikipedia, still use images for math.  However, the images often include
alt text or embedded comments that could be used to make the image
accessible.  An idea that Design Science has been thinking about is writing
JavaScript that grabs the alt text or embedded comments and provides some
level of accessibility.  For example, if the image contains embedded MathML
and MathPlayer was installed, then the javascript could rewrite the page as
one containing MathML and MathPlayer could take over display and
interaction with AT.  If MathPlayer wasn't installed (for example, someone
is running Firefox on Linux), the JavaScript could still do the translation
of MathML to speech and braille.  It wouldn't be able to magnify or sync
highlight.  If TeX or some other known format was found, the JavaScript
could translate it to MathML and then make it accessible.

The same JavaScript accessibility issues arise with this idea as with other
JavaScript -- AT doesn't know about the JavaScript and doesn't know that
the image (or div/span for JSMath) is really math.  If it did know, then it
could call on our interfaces (or eventually some standard expert handler
interface) and get an appropriate string to speak or string to send to the
braille display (math has it own braille codes and they are not identical
to what is spoken).

Now for the suggestion...  ARIA should have a way to say 'this element is
actually math'.  My non-expert suggestion for how to do this would be to
add a "math" role to the list of known roles.  'math' would be similar to
'grid' in that it represents document structure and contains other
elements.  Ideally, an extensible mechanism would be desirable, but math is
an obvious case that maps onto an existing W3C standard and would enhance
existing pages that don't use MathML.

As a real life example from Wikipedia [
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nth_root], the first image in the XHTML could
potentially be made accessible if AT knew about it by adding a role
attribute as
<img class="tex" alt="\sqrt[n]{a}" role="math" src="
">

[Note:  the alt text is present on the Wikipedia page.  The TeX was used to
generate the image in the first place]

Adding role="math" says that the alt text or comments in the image contains
information that can be used for accessibility purposes.  It alerts AT
software so that they can call on some expert math handler to get
information about how to handle the element.

Neil Soiffer
Senior Scientist
Design Science, Inc.
neils@dessci.com
www.dessci.com.
~ Makers of Equation Editor, MathType, MathPlayer and MathFlow ~



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