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Journalism Model for LONGDESC

From: Leonard R. Kasday, kasday@att.com <kasday@att.com>
Date: Thu, 26 Feb 1998 12:38:49 -0500
Message-ID: <34F5A8A9.380E@att.com>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Here's a proposal which I think addresses the spectrum of preferences
for how much pictorial description people want, and without using TITLE,
so TITLE can be used for other purposes.

The idea comes from what they teach in journalism school: to start a
story with the essentials, and then continue to finer and finer detail,
so the reader can choose how much they want to read.

Suppose that LONGDESC was written in that way; and suppose a browser
that could, at any point in listening to LONGDESC, skip the rest of it. 

Here's an example.

An icon for sending mail that's a mailbox.  

ALT text could just be "send mail"

But LONGDESC would be:

LONGDESC="A country mailbox.  A floppy tail hangs from the open door.  
The box colored silver, is mounted on brown wooden post and is
surrounded by non-descript trees.  

A person who just wants to send mail or who knows what the mailbox looks
like could skip the whole LONGDESC.  A person curious about it would
hear "A country mailbox. A floppy tail hangs from the..."  If this
person isn't in to whimsy, he or she would just skip the rest.  A person
who's intrigued would go on a bit, but after getting to the part about
the color of the post decide, he or she has had enough.

I think this will satisfy people who want a page to be pure function and
also a spectrum of people with different preferences about how much
detail they want to hear.  Plus, it avoids trying to set a line between
a short description and long description, and using up TITLE for the
short description.

This would require ALT and LONGDESC for all elements that have
associated images.  It also implies that ALT text would be the absolute
minimum needed for the page to be readable and usable, and in fact would
be blank more than is appropriate today without LONGDESC.

Received on Thursday, 26 February 1998 12:43:45 UTC

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