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Re: example of site where text-only does not convey all info

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2001 23:24:02 -0500
Message-Id: <200101230414.XAA1231184@smtp2.mail.iamworld.net>
To: w3c-wai-er-ig@w3.org
First off, I will say that most people would take this question as a GL

That is to say "what is the standard for how comparable the content in the
respective media have to be in order to be counted as equivalent?"  Stated yet
another way, "How different can their communicative effect be in order to
count as equivalent?"

That question is a content standards question, i.e. in GL scope.  A
corresponding ER question is "what is the method of observation within
which we
apply that standard?"  I'll blather about both.

At 05:40 PM 2001-01-22 -0500, Wendy A Chisholm wrote:
>At this a.m.'s telecon I was trying to find a site that I had seen earlier 
>in the week.  I have found out it was not a public site, so I will 
>summarize the issue that we found.
>The site uses rollovers on menu items to display pictures.  For example, 
>"architecture" is associated with an image of an indoor swimming pool, 
>"industrial design" is associated with an image of a station wagon with the 
>back door open so that you can see into the back of the car, "interior 
>design" seems to be associated with a modern, shiny kitchen.
>The issue is that the links on their own "architecture, industrial design, 
>and interior design" give you no context.  The images provide you with an 
>idea of what you might find if you follow the link.  In the text-only 
>version they only provide the links.

This is funny.  I must be farther out on the left brain tail of the curve than
even Charles.  To me it is clear that the simple nouns are definitive in
scoping what the links lead you to, here, and hence are impeccable.  The
are illustrative and evocative.  Recall how I have (on GL) said mix your
rhetorical forms, use both denotation and evocation?  Well here is the perfect
example of each.  In your appreciation, the evocation of the topic by a
example is more clear.  For someone who knows that this site is advertising
the three divisions of a design firm, the department titles that you listed
might be viewed as more informative, or more exact in describing "what you get
if you follow the link" than the single examples.  Clearly it takes different
strokes for different folks, and some will respond better to one and some to
the other.

On the other hand, as I understand the criteria in WCAG 1.0, this is an open
and shut case that these _are equivalent_ in the sense intended _there_.  The
word and the image in each case serve to preview what you get if you follow
link.  Maybe one or the other works better for you.  But that is not the
question.  The two media, such as they work, work to do the same thing.  If
button with the "industrial design" words on it actually took you to something
not related to industrial design, but did take you to something that
related to
the image of the car with the tailgate open, such as a site about cooking for
tailgate parties at football games, then they would not be eqivalent.  But
assuming that the words and images are both reasonably appropriate to the
destinations, the media options here _are_ equivalent alternatives and the
content provider has met the requirement to have a text alternative for the
image rollovers.

The way you evaluate this is not by comparing the word with the image.
What we
are comparing in this case is a) the relationship of the word to the
destination with b) the relationship of the image to the destination.  The
function of the content here is to presage the destination.  If each
alternative does that, they don't have to be equally good.  They just have to
both be doing the relevant function.

Note the key role of "potential application to do something" in the definition
of equivalent.  Equivalents are judged in terms of their potential for
comparable outcome.  What the potential is to _do_ varies from place to place
in the web page.

In this case I would say that the page with only the text is clearly inferior,
but not a bad thing, when the page with the images is available as an
alternative.  The text they have chosen does about as well as text can to get
the needed job done.  The image is evocative of the subject matter, but
words describing what is in the image would not function as evocative.
approach would be better to take.  If you wanted to use more words in a
text-only version, I would not use descriptions of the pictures, but rather
something more flowing like "visit our Industrial Design Department" or
some of the products of our Industrial Design practice."  You could make the
words more clear than the short nominative titles, and if you were designing
the wording for a commercial voice service (accessed by phone) you clearly
would.  But for the rough equivalence that is the standard in WCAG 1.0 these
are golden. 

Homework:  background sound to evoke "interior design"?  I think I have one. 
Clue: Industrial design is the sound of an electric egg beater (mixer).  



>The question we asked this morning is, "how would you determine if these 
>two sites (the text equivalent and the graphical with rollovers) are 
>equivalent?"  They have the same links, but there is information presented 
>on the graphical page that is not available on the text-only.
>wendy a chisholm
>world wide web consortium
>web accessibility initiative
>madison, wi usa
>tel: +1 608 663 6346
Received on Monday, 22 January 2001 23:14:27 GMT

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