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Re: FW: Comments on W3C WAI PA

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.EDU.AU>
Date: Tue, 9 Mar 1999 11:29:12 +1100 (AEDT)
To: WAI Markup Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.SUN.3.95.990309110347.24595C-100000@ariel.ucs.unimelb.EDU.AU>
On Mon, 8 Mar 1999, Charles Oppermann wrote:

> > A.1.3 Anything about the fact that you have to use TITLE on AREA to work
> > with IE4 or IE5? It is very unfortunate, and really the fault of IE, but
> > pages only using ALT as these guidelines recommend will not be accessible
> > with IE, whereas if the page used both ALT and TITLE it would be
> > accessible with all browsers. I recognize that that would be adding a hack
> > to work around a flaw in a specific browser, so may not be appropriate,
> > but certainly Microsoft's version of these guidelines would have to
> > recommend authors use both.
Such a change would be altogether unacceptable for the reason cited: its
purpose would simply be to avoid a design flaw in a specific browser.
Since version 5 has not been released yet, Microsoft still has time in
which to correct the problem instead of trying to encourage authors to
compensate for it; energies would be better directed toward fixing the
design fault. Also, there should be no "Microsoft version" of these
guidelines. They are a W3C document and, as such, intended to be
definitive of a recommendation. It would be inappropriate for any
organisation to produce modified versions.

> > A.6.1 Using Hx tags correctly to convey structure is important, but
> > nesting them correctly is not in my opinion. I'd say Pri 3. Can you
> > justify why this is higher priority? 
Certainly. If a user agent, such as a speaking web browser (via the DOM
for instance) provides structural navigation of the document, then it
becomes possible for the reader to traverse the tree structure directly in
order to locate sections of interest. If headings are properly nested,
then level n +1 headings will always appear below level n headings in the
tree, thus providing the correct document structure for navigational
purposes. It would thus be inappropriate at best, and confusing at worst,
for, to take an example, a subsection heading to appear above a section
heading in the hierarchy when structural navigation is being used.

> > A.6.2 Using OL and UL is Pri 3--it does not provide access, only makes it
> > easier. After all, who's to say what lists cross the line from where it's
> > ok to put them in a sentence, say, or as multiple sequential paragraphs,
> > instead of as bulleted lists. That seems to intrude on editorial decisions
> > and so should be recommendation only.
As discussed on this list recently, lists are very useful navigation aids
and are of particular benefit when the document is transformed into
braille or auditory media, assist in structural navigation, and generally
make it easier to comprehend the document. For these reasons they are an
important tool of document design, and this is recognised in the
guidelines.
> > A.6.3 In discussing this with our Web team, I recommend that it is higher
> > priority to make sure that pages can be used when style sheets are turned
> > off than it is to avoid abusing BLOCKQUOTE. Therefore if it's important
> > that a paragraph be set off (e.g. indented) I'd use BLOCKQUOTE instead of
> > relying on style sheets. What aids or other tools would be adversely
> > affected in real life by this? (Remember, these guidelines are about
> > improving accessibility, not enforcing W3C recommendations in general.)
I disagree with the remarks concerning BLOCKQUOTE. If this element is used
inappropriately, then a speaking browser, a braille translator, etc., will
treat the enclosed text as a quotation, thus providing the reader with an
inaccurate understanding of the document's content. Also, the use of
BLOCKQUOTE for purposes of indentation violates the separation of content
and presentation. This, indeed, is the more fundamental issue, and leads
directly to inappropriate presentation in different media (my web browser,
for instance, uses a different voice to indicate quoted text, and there is
no way of distinguishing, if BLOCKQUOTE is used wrongly, between a genuine
quotation and indented text, without making potentially dubious
assumptions concerning the structure of the document).As for the claim
that the guidelines should not require compliance with W3C
recommendations, it would be inconsistent with their status as a W3C
document were they not to do so. W3C recommendations are intended to
enhance interoperability: the compatibility of the web across the entire
range of hardware and software environments that may be available. Given
the different types of input and output devices, operating systems and
user agents that a person with a disability may be using, interoperability
as facilitated by W3C recommendations is even more relevant to access for
people with disabilities than it is to the population of web users in
general. Thus, these guidelines should be consistent with, and where
possible supportive of, other W3C specifications.

I shall comment on the remaining aspects of these suggestions as the
discussion progresses.
Received on Monday, 8 March 1999 19:29:19 GMT

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