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Detailed comments on April 14 draft of the guidelines

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.EDU.AU>
Date: Sun, 26 Apr 1998 13:53:29 +1000 (AEST)
To: WAI Markup Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.SUN.3.95.980426135151.27852A-100000@ariel.ucs.unimelb.EDU.AU>
Comments on http://www.w3.org/TR/1998/WD-WAI-PAGEAUTH-0414

In the suggestions for revision which follow, I have first quoted the
existing text and then indicated the proposed change, preceded, for clarity,
with "JW:".

Abstract: "Tools that generate documents in HTML (authoring tools, file
conversion packages or other products) should produce documents that follow
these guidelines.

JW: "Software that generates documents in HTML, including authoring tools,
file conversion packages, data base applications etc., should produce markup
that complies with these guidelines."

Rating and Classification: "This strategy takes advantage of features being
incorporated into tomorrow's browsers     and assistive technologies (that
incorporate Web Access Initiative [sic] recommendations."

JW: ""This strategy takes advantage of features being incorporated into
tomorrow's browsers     and assistive technologies (that take advantage of
emerging standards and Web Accessibility Initiative recommendations."

Style and Structure: "Use style sheets rather than converting text to

JW: Shouldn't this guideline be categorised as "required"? If text is
represented as an image, it can not be read by assistive technologies.

"Documents that use style sheets for     presentation allow users to adjust
the look of the document (e.g., larger print, color     contrast, etc.)
through personal style sheets or browser settings."

JW: "Documents that use style sheets for     presentation allow users to
adjust the appearance of the text (e.g., larger print, color     contrast,
etc.) through personal style rules or browser settings."

"Structural elements enforce consistency in documents and supply information
to other tools     (e.g., indexing tools, search engines, [...]"

JW: Automatic translation software should be mentioned here.

"To test if the text and background contrast is sufficient enough [sic] to be
read [...]"

JW: This is a tautology. It should say: "sufficient to be read".

Section 2: "Each image should have alternative text that represents [...]"

JW: "Each image should have a textual alternative that represents [...]"

"Provide a longer description for graphics that present important information
(especially     charts, tables, and diagrams)."

JW: Is it right to mention tables here? After all, a table is supposed to be
represented by proper HTML markup, not as an in-line graphic. Undoubtedly, it
is appropriate to include a summary of the table (for instance by means of
the SUMMARY attribute), but this is not relevant to the present discussion of

"The D-link links to a page or a phrase at the bottom of the page with a      
  longer description of the graphic."

JW: "The D-link links to a separate page or a phrase? [should this be
"paragraph?"] at the bottom of the current document which gives a longer
description of the image."

"One final possibility is     to create an alternative page that is

JW: Since we are discouraging the use of alternative pages, this should not
be mentioned here. It belongs in the "if all else fails" section only.

Perhaps the discussion of "images used as links" and ASCII art should precede
the detailed treatment of image maps. Those who are reading the document
quickly may assume that the remainder of the section is concerned with image
maps only, and could therefore miss the important guidelines at the end.

Section 3: "More information is available through the Java Accessibility page
at the Trace     Center."

JW: "More information is available from the references cited at the end of
this section."

Under "For more information", include a reference to the Trace Java
accessibility page.

"Note. More exploration is needed in this area. Please stay tuned."

JW: Is this proviso still necessary?

Section 4: "A text transcript of the video descriptions [sic] provides the
same information as in     recommendation 4.2, but in a text format."

JW: This should read: "transcript of the video description". The phrase "but
in a text format" does not convey much information and is implied by the term
"text transcript". Perhaps a better explanation could be provided.

Section 5: "This will be particularly useful for     future speaking
technologies that will read row and column labels for each cell."

JW: "[...] that can read row and column labels [...]"

"[...] are especially useful for non-visual     users."

JW: This should say: "non-visual readers".

Section 6: Should the discussion of images used as links be moved into this
section of the document? At least, it should be referred to explicitly, along
with the existing reference to the guidelines concerning image maps.

"For example, when associated with a link, it takes the user to the
associated     document."

JW: "[...] it takes the user to the destination document." (this sentence
needs further attention).

Section 7: "Please refer to the example in the Central     Reference

JW: Since the page authoring guidelines are intended to be relatively self-
contained, this illustration should be given in the appendix, along with the
examples of tables, ALT text, etc.

Section 8: find and exploit synonyms for the word "associate".

"Associate labels with their form controls.
    Labels can be associated explicitly using the "for" attribute of the
     LABEL     element."

JW: The second sentence should read: "This can be achieved using the "for"
attribute of the LABEL element, as shown in the following example.".

"The "for" attribute of the LABEL     element allows explicit association."

JW: This sentence is redundant and should be deleted.

"Include default, place-holding characters in edit     boxes and text areas."

JW: The classification of this guideline, namely "interim" should precede
this sentence instead of following it. The same suggestion holds in respect
of the next guideline as well.

Appendix: "The following example shows how to     associate header
information with the "headers" attribute."

JW: "The following example shows how to associate data cells with their
corresponding headers by means of the "headers" attribute defined in HTML

Edit the following sentence, as required, to avoid redundancy.

"A speech synthesizer might render by speaking the following:"

JW: "A speech synthesizer might render this table as follows:"

"The following example associates the     same header and data information as
the previous example, but uses the "scope"     attribute rather than

JW: "The next example associates the same header and data cells as before,
but this time uses the "scope" attribute rather than "headers"."

"This example might be rendered by a speech     synthesizer as the previous

JW: "It should be noted that the spoken rendering of this table would be
identical to that of the previous example; a choice between the HEADERS and
SCOPE attributes is dependent on the complexity of the table and
considerations of convenience for the author, but does not affect the output
so long as the relationships between header and data cells are made clear in
the markup."

"Appendix B"

JW: Either make this into a sub-heading of a single appendix, or rename the
preceding section "Appendix A". At present, the latter is simply entitled
"Appendix". If two or more appendices are to be created, then the references
to "the appendix" in the body of the document need to be updated.

"In general, authors should specify alternative text that describes the
function of the graphic or image and not its visual appearance."

JW: The purpose of the ALT text is not to "describe" the function of the
graphic but to be a substitute which achieves the same function as the image.

"[...] what would you say upon encountering this image or graphic to make the
page comprehensible to the listener?"

JW: The phrase "or graphic" in this sentence is redundant.

"Note. Providing alternative text for images embedded with the OBJECT element
is a different beast and will be covered in the future."

JW: To the contrary, this topic should be briefly discussed now. The
essential principles are the same as for long descriptions, except that the
textual alternative will be displayed as an integral component of the
document rather than as a link to a separate page. If the textual alternative
is particularly long or inessential to the reader's comprehension of the
document as a whole, the author may wish to emulate the LONGDESC attribute by
including in the OBJECT element a link to a separate page containing a
description of the image (an example could be provided here if necessary).

Unordered lists: since CSS 2 allows audible cues to precede bulleted list
items, the recommendation that ALT text such as "item" be included, should be
marked as interim, and a note should be added mentioning audio style

Ordered lists: Since user agents are supposed to generate the item numbering
automatically,, the inclusion of this information in ALT text is surely
redundant and potentially confusing. A null ALT attribute should be used
Received on Saturday, 25 April 1998 23:53:36 GMT

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