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Re: Comments on Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

From: Alan J. Flavell <flavell@a5.ph.gla.ac.uk>
Date: Sat, 13 Mar 1999 01:23:07 +0000 (GMT)
To: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
cc: WAI GL <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.OSF.4.10.9903130105570.12186-100000@a5.ph.gla.ac.uk>
On Fri, 12 Mar 1999, Charles McCathieNevile wrote:

> IJ:  
>   We attempt to emphasize that good design produces accessible documents,
>   thus I don't think there's a conflict. 

> CMN:
> It would seem foolish in a document about how to produce accessible
> content to do anything other than stress accessibility as more important
> than design.

These two usages of the word "design" seem to be contradictory.

I always feel it's a mistake when people apply the word "design" to
refer only to visual cosmetics.  I regard design as a much more
comprehensive and fundamental activity.  From the context, it appears
that IJ does so too.

All too many "web designs" that one sees around, have been composed
merely to be graphical cosmetics without any underlying structure.
When it's proposed to their author that the page should be made
accessible, their usual response is "that would need an alternative
text-only version, for which I haven't got the time or resources".  
In fact (as I hardly need to say to the participants on this list!), a
properly _designed_ page could in many cases look just the same as
theirs when viewed in the narrow range of viewing situations they
"designed" it for, yet, due to the soundness of its underlying design,
the self-same document can be essentially accessible in and of itself.

I certainly support the motion that the construction of alternative
versions is best kept for the most exceptional of situations, and the
guidelines should avoid reinforcing authors' prejudices that creating
alternative versions would be the routine way to make a "normal" web
page accessible.

Received on Friday, 12 March 1999 20:23:13 UTC

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