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RE: [webwatch] Visa Paralympics accessible site

From: B.K. DeLong <bkdelong@pobox.com>
Date: Tue, 29 Jan 2002 11:39:00 -0500
Message-Id: <5.1.0.14.2.20020129103512.0254a560@pop.earthlink.net>
To: w3c-wai-au@w3.org
Cc: webwatch@yahoogroups.com
At 09:59 AM 01/29/2002 -0500, Al Gilman wrote:
>Yes, but why is it that designers have to be repeatedly told [this]?

I apologize for the intrusion, but I'm going to jump in here. Due to the 
lack of "curriculums" and articles where Web accessibility is taught as 
part of the Web design process rather than an afterthought to be revisited 
after site completion, many Web designers don't quite grasp the concept of 
usability with regard to their sites.

>It is a megatrend and the bane of my existence.

I agree and we can stamp our feet and complain about them all we want. The 
real issue is that many Web designers still see HTML as a Web design 
language. Until they realize that a) It's a markup language and b) Markup 
languages are meant only to give context to information while CSS is 
supposed to handle all the formatting, it's going to be an uphill battle  - 
Web accessibility will continue to be something they half-heartedly address 
after they feel the site is finished.

<rant pertinence="offtopic">

We need to see more articles looking at solutions that allow people to 
create sites using (X)HTML + CSS. It wasn't until I started redoing my own 
personal site that I realized, (after having it pointed out by CSS guru 
Eric Costello[1]), I could create the Web site without having to use 
JavaScript browser sniffing to assign appropriate stylesheets based on user 
agent.

Most browsers supporting a decent (ie usable) amount of CSS also support 
the @import at-rule. While others that have poor CSS support (ie Netscape 
4.x) do not.  As such, create a main stylesheet that all browsers will 
support and import it via the LINK element, and create a second stylesheet 
that adds extra special CSS not supported by all browsers, and bring it in 
via the @import.

Mind you it's still a work-in-progress but so far the site [2]  seems to do 
well in Lynx, Netscape 4.6, IE6, Opera 4.0b3, and Netscape 6. Mozilla seems 
to ignore both stylesheets so I don't know what's up with that - I'll have 
to hit Bugzilla.

Anyway, THIS sort of education will help designers further realize the 
dichotomy between markup and style that I think they're still not getting.

</rant>

>They are following a context-free rule that only takes linear thinking.  Here
>is an IMG, supply an ALT.  All they did was to follow that rule without 
>looking
>around.  They ignore the context.

Now that, I just don't understand. Perhaps it's because many designers are 
visually oriented and they treat ALT attributes a property of their graphic 
or link rather than take in the context of how it will read in the 
document. But again, that can be solved by better education.

>For effective education and outreach, to get the design constraint we wish to
>be effective in the designer's understanding we have to put the form of the
>fluency constraint graphically under their nose.  This can be done with 
>Lynx or
>Home Page Reader or you name it.  But the authoring process has to present the
>author with the text content in a geometry which makes the repetition obvious,
>and makes it look like a mistake.

Sounds like we should encourage authoring tool companies to place a new 
feature in their product: Have a toggle that switches from WYSIWYG view to 
text view - a view that is the result of replacing graphical elements with 
their text equivalent, or nothing to show what it looks like in text 
browsers and how it will read to people with screen readers, people 
browsing with Cell phones, PDAs (for when they support XHTML + CSS2).

Long term, we need to make more of a point to read books, articles, 
listserves etc and start commenting to authors and developers who approach 
things from a wrong angle. Every book I've tech edited over the past year, 
I've tried to pound the (X)HTML + CSS, Markup vs. Style point home so we 
can start changing the perception of the Web site design process.

[1] http://www.glish.com/
[2] http://www.brain-stream.com/2002/newsite

--
B.K. DeLong
bkdelong@pobox.com
617.877.3271

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Received on Tuesday, 29 January 2002 11:36:33 UTC

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