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RE: Respect for the POV of group members

From: Wayne Myers-Education <wayne.myers@bbc.co.uk>
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 1999 15:06:03 -0000
Message-Id: <41ED4776F432D211ACBD0000F8EF7D7A86EB0E@w12wcedxu01.wc.bbc.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-er-ig@w3.org
Hi,

Jonathan, of course it is axiomatic that we respect other points of view.

However, pages that are 100% gif files which do not contain textual
alternatives are clearly described in the current draft of the Page Author
Guidelines in the following way: 'If text equivalents are not provided for
visual information, people who are blind, have low vision, or any user who
cannot or has chosen not to view graphics will not know the purpose of the
visual components on the page.'

This is a lot more polite than saying that pages that are 100% gif files are
stupid, but it is basically saying the same thing. In the context of an
accessibility issues discussion group, one might expect people to make
strong and robust arguments or statements in favour of accessibility as
described in the current draft guidelines (or beyond). To my mind, this
would include describing pages that are 100% gif files as stupid, especially
in the context of the fact that the various HTML specifications at no point
contain any indication that such pages are intended or indeed desirable.
Pages that contain mainly gif files but with meaningful textual alternatives
for each one do not count as '100% gif files'.

Are you perhaps suggesting that this draft of the Guidelines is in error,
and should read something like 'If text equivalents are not provided for
visual information, people who are blind, have low vision or any user who
cannot or has chosen not to view graphics will not know the purpose of the
visual components on the page. Unless the site is described as deliberately
being for 'non-readers' in which case the page author may do exactly as they
wish with our blessing, because god forbid we should cast aspersions on the
accessibility efforts of others.' I don't think you will find much support
for such a suggestion, because it doesn't make any sense.

> Our site www.peepo.com is for non readers, some deaf, with a
> comprehension(reading) level ~age 3-10.

I am fascinated by the nature of your work with developing websites for
non-readers and would be very interested to hear of some kind of theoretical
basis for your notion that small little gifs distributed in no clearly
discernible order on a page which itself reloads on a regular basis without
any kind of textual contextualisation at all or ALT attributes (so this
accessiblity page is deliberately inaccessible to the blind, visually
impaired, users of text-only browsers etc) is in some way more accessible to
some group of people than others.

I must confess an embarrassing degree of ignorance here, since to be frank,
your page doesn't look to me to be accessible to anyone at all in any way at
all, except in the context of other masterpieces of net.art, which
www.peepo.com undoubtedly is, deliberately cocking a snook as it does at our
preconceived notions of linkage, context, graphical aesthetica and the
stability of the HTML page. 

It may be, then, that I have failed to understand various key things to do
with the accessibility group you mention. I would be very grateful
therefore, if you could please explain why it is accessible and appropriate
for you to link to the Cosmopolitan horoscopes page, to the Smithsonian
"Revealing Things" exhibition (which is heavily textual in its
contextualisation), to the very text heavy 'Allied Chemical Music Division'
site (slogan - 'it's a better world through chemicals', URL:
http://alliedchemical.com/blackops/ ) , to the Vauxhall driver reaction time
simulator site on http://www.vauxhall-drts.com/home.htm and to various other
sites that are clearly manifestly unsuitable for non-readers, containing as
they do a large amount of text.

Similarly, your link to http://www.byrne.dircon.co.uk/faeces/index.htm may
well be considered to be inappropriate on a site designed, as you say, for
those with a reading age of between 3 and 10, in light of the fact that you
make no note suggesting that it may not, in fact, be considered suitable for
children by teachers and parents (whatever children themsleves may think of
such a site.)

> I hope it will soon have shockwave,GIFs work wonders, text 
> labels mainly
> confuse.

Again, this is in direct contradiction to the current draft guidelines,
which tend, in general, to recommend text labels. To quote: ' It is good
practice, as you design a document containing non-textual information
(images, graphics, applets, sounds, etc.) to think about supplementing that
information with textual equivalents wherever possible.'

Your suggestion seems to be in fact something along the lines of the
following: 'It is good practice, as you design a document containing
non-textual information, not to bother with textual equivalents, because
they mainly confuse.'

I think that such wildly divergent ideas are going to be hard to bring to
any kind of consensus.

Nevertheless, I look forward to your reply with interest.

Cheers etc.,

Wayne Myers
Interactive Software Engineer
BBC Digital Media
http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/
0181-752-6116
Received on Monday, 1 March 1999 10:06:48 GMT

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