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replacing images with alt text [was Re: Accessibility entries in help and documentation

From: Leonard R. Kasday <kasday@acm.org>
Date: Thu, 04 Mar 1999 13:45:10 -0500
Message-Id: <3.0.32.19990304134508.0148c3fc@pop3.concentric.net>
To: Harvey Bingham <hbingham@acm.org>, w3c-wai-er-ig@w3.org
Although it wasn't Harvey's main point, his finding about how hard it is to
turn off images (needed by some screenreaders) suggests another useful tool
feature: to replace images with their alt text... or to put the ALT text
next to the image on the screen.  The latter would be useful for people
with low vision and dyslexia also.

Len

At 10:53 AM 3/4/99 -0500, Harvey Bingham wrote:
>Summary: My recent experience using Netscape Navigator 4.5 suggests that 
>writers of product documentation, including online help, may be
>writing oblivious of accessibility issues. We should include
>such in any product evaluation.
>
>>At 1999-02-26 01:50 PM, Kitch Barnicle <kitch@afb.org> wrote
>>to the UA group, Subject: product documentation 
>>...
>> As a point of illustration, I asked 13 screen reader users to turn off 
>>images in Netscape 4.05 (as part of a research study). For a number of 
>>reasons, no one succeeded in turning off images. And the four users who 
>>ventured into the help system to figure out how to turn off images were 
>>totally stymied by Netscape's inaccessible help system. So we have to be 
>>careful about building in configuration capability and then hiding it some 
>>place where users can't find it. Ideally, the user interface would be so 
>>accessible and usable that documentation is not even needed, but if we are 
>>going to expect users to configure the user agent then the documentation 
>>must be accessible.
>
>Curious, I tried it. Sorry for redundancy.
>
>Anecdote: NSNavigator Index obscures how to turn images off. After about 
>5 minutes trying to use their index (trying images, graphics, loading, 
>download, automatic loading, etc.) I gave up, and searched from the main 
>menu to find preferences. I examined each of the choices, finally at the 
>bottom was Advanced. Eureka! 
>the first checkbox, after finding this path: 
>    Edit=>Preferences=>Advanced=>Automatically Load Images
>Once I found it, I unchecked it. Didn't seem to have any effect, since the 
>images on the refreshed page were still in the cache. Bummer. Weak 
>cause and effect test. It did work with different page not in cache.
Finally. 
>I went back to the index and found "preferences, Navigator" 
>In the middle of 15 choices was "Automatic Loading". 
>Again under personalizing Navigator, paging down linearly for 35 screens 
>(without a subindex) I found Automatic Loading described.
>There was no useful content search available in that help system.
>
>Moral: A review of any documentation should include probes for help with 
>common accessibility needs. 
>
>Regards/Harvey
>
>
>
>
>
-------
Leonard R. Kasday, Ph.D.
Universal Design Engineer, Institute on Disabilities/UAP, and
Adjunct Professor, Electrical Engineering
Temple University

Ritter Hall Annex, Room 423, Philadelphia, PA 19122
kasday@acm.org        
(215} 204-2247 (voice)
(800) 750-7428 (TTY)
Received on Thursday, 4 March 1999 13:44:12 GMT

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