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Re: Okay, is this better?

From: Suzan Dolloff <averil@concentric.net>
Date: Wed, 25 Mar 1998 13:15:44 -0600
Message-Id: <3.0.1.32.19980325131544.007e8140@pop3.concentric.net>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
(This thread originated on the WAI-IG list and has been copied to this one.)

Re: Text-Only Version link on web page, Chris Maden wrote:

CM: I find that a strange suggestion.  If the page is readable in Lynx (as
you note), why make yet another version? 

SD: Many blind web surfers use graphical browsers and have never even heard
of Lynx. We're just as subject to the hype of "get Netscape Now" or "Best
viewed with Internet Explorer" icons as anyone else, Chris. Provided the
ordinary web surfer is as proficient with browser software as those of us
who spend tens of hours each day using them, AND provided browser
manufacturers have included programming which immediately renders the
"Print" function results in a format that is as instantly accessible to a
vision-impaired user as a sighted one (doesn't require having to crank up
yet another adaptive device, in other words), then no, a text-only version
isn't necessary. I have yet to run any web page through Bobby where the
annotations did NOT include the suggestion of a text-only version. And just
how much more work is copy/paste to create a .TXT file compared to
creating, say, a frames/no-frames alternative? I'd also like to clarify
something I believe was misunderstood. Text-only version links MUST include
the actual URL to a link (http:///www.something.org) since they're
obviously not hypertext. 

CM: Secondly, ACCESSIBILITY MUST BE EASY.  

SD: Yes. ESPECIALLY to the people who most benefit from it and are already
being expected to integrate their use of the Internet with GUI interpretation.

CM: Most people can see.  While I want my site to be visible to as
many as possible, every extra piece of work necessary moves the border
of "possible".  Making duplicate versions of every file quickly pushes
the visually challenged into the "impossible" side, especially for
large Web sites.

SD: To be as succinct and as polite as possible, Chris: tough nuggies. It's
a compassionate AND necessary accommodation in some cases, as is providing
frames/no frames options, not to mention plain common sense for reaching
the broadest audience. Anyone on the Web who wants my money for their
product better be creating a site which makes it possible for me to know
what the product is! I submit inclusion of a conversion tool (.html to
.txt)  in next-generation HTML authoring software programs would
practically address this issue from either side of the fence. Until then,
be glad it's no more complicated than copy/paste. I DO appreciate what
you're saying in terms of the work required to generate/duplicate file
content, and I, personally, would rather suck eggs than retrofit an
existing site (since, as a designer, I'm usually so relieved to have it
DONE the first time in order to move onto the next project). However, since
the objective here is to provide accessibility to all, I stand behind my
assertion we have to practice what we preach, WHATEVER it takes to make a
web site accessible.

CM: Right now, Lynx renders <hr> as a series of underscores.  Does this
bother you - does your screen reader read underscores?

SD: I thought I'd already explained how using voice synthesis with
different applications often *requires* hearing punctuation pronounced
despite the fact the software's default configuration is usually set up so
the listener does NOT hear it. For example, imagine trying to learn how to
write HTML without hearing the exclamation mark or dashes in a comment,
e.g., <!--comment -->. So yes, Chris, I hear and am annoyed by repetitions
of "underscore-underscore-underscore-underscore..." as a text alternative
to a decorative horizontal rule simply because some designer was bound and
determined to have me appreciate his page layout. However, as a web
designer myself, it IS nice to know how someone has laid out a page, and
that brings me to something I learned about just yesterday by following
links on CAST's Bobby site. 

http://www.wgbh.org/wgbh/index.html

This well-designed and highly-accessible web site uses what's known as a D
link, or "description." Clicking on a D link takes users to another web
page which offers image or sound descriptions whose robust explanations
aren't well served by ALT or TITLE or LONGDESC attributes. A sound
description for a .wav file, for example, is an actual transcript of the
lyrics which, obviously, cannot be heard by a deaf person. An image
description can not only explain a specific graphic, it could also include
an explanation of the page's layout. Now, I, personally, like this D-link
idea very much, since it means I'm still using my graphical browser just
like anyone else when I click on the link taking me to the description
page, but I concede this is yet another file to create and could just as
easily be contained in a text file as an HTML file. If you get a chance,
Chris, please visit the above-listed URL. This is a sharp web site from
both an "abled" and disabled perspective and, in my opinion, one of the
best examples I have yet to encounter of seamless integration of aesthetics
and accessibility.

Respectfully, if still somewhat tweaked by facetious tones,

Re Dolloff
mailto:averil@concentric.net
Received on Wednesday, 25 March 1998 14:15:20 GMT

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