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RE: Kynn's Analysis of CD Web Accessibility

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Sat, 1 Apr 2000 23:03:22 -0500 (EST)
To: "'Kynn Bartlett'" <kynn@idyllmtn.com>
cc: WAI GL <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.20.0004012247190.11714-100000@tux.w3.org>
Kynn,

yes, I think you have hit on an important point about working to
directly improve access. But note that we _do_ already require generation of
content directly to meet certain needs - transcripts and text alternatives
don't write themselves, although we would like authoring tools to keep them
as libraries. Note that many authoring tools already do keep libraries of
multimedia stuff (think of the clip art shipped as part of the 4 CDs I got
that make up a suite of authoring tools).

Some more information:

The EIAD browser is designed specifically for people with cognitive
impairments.

Of the strategies you have described, most are supported by the WCAG:

Screenreader compatibility is covered pretty well I think (and where it isn't
we have a lot of expertise to help us already).

Icon library: We have the requirement to illustrate things that I have
expressed a desire to see get a higher priority, and a requirement to provide
metadata, part of which could/should point to libraries and dictionaries
(Note that in the case of graphic content this becomes a seemingly simple
issue).

Dictionary access is more metadata linking (at the authoring level).

Navigation structures that are marked up as such (and are consistent) are
already required, as are pages that transform gracefully.

As you pointed out there are a range of cognitive impairments like there are
of other disabilities. And there is crossover in the requirements of the
different groups - for example people who are deaf are often very poor
readers when their first language is signed, and people who are dyslexic but
have no problem handling complex ideas or technical work can benefit greatly
from using a screen reader and having plenty of graphic illustrations as well
as plain words.

Speaking personally, I found the difficulty arose with this question becuase
although I can turn off the sound and the graphic display on my machine
changing the way I think is a lot harder, and more difficult to relate to.

I don't think we are as far away from understanding this as we feel we are,
although it seems there is a conceptual leap that we are finding hard to
make. Maybe we should all have a vacation and think slowly about it for a
week (and then quickly, so we can translate our thoughts into published
work...)

Cheers

Charles McCN

Kynn wrote:  
[snip]
  One key question I've been wrestling with has been "is this
  different than enabling access for people with other
  disabilities (e.g. those with mobility/dexterity, vision,
  or hearing impairments), and if so, why is this different?"
[snip]  
  PRODUCT SPEC:  CogWeb 1.0
  
       This describes a theoretical user agent, CogWeb 1.0,
       created to meet the needs of users with cognitive
       disabilities.
  
       * Screenreader Compatibility:  CogWeb interfaces with
         any screenreader or accessibility technologies
         installed in the user's operating system, allowing
         for words, phrases, and web pages to be read out
         loud to enable access for non-readers.  A button
         on the toolbar allows for the current highlighted
         text to be read out loud.
  
       * Graphical Icon Library:  At the user's request,
         CogWeb will include additional graphics when displaying
         a web page.  These graphics will be chosen from a large
         (5,000 images or so) library of images that come with
         the CogWeb program.  AI-style text analysis allows
         for subtle differences in context and meaning to be
         expressed.  The text of each icon appears below the
         icon a la "Ruby."  Web designers can also specify their
         own image sets and/or embed graphic "hints" for unknown
         words.
  
       * Definition Engine:  A powerful context-sensitive
         English dictionary -- written at a relatively low
         reading level (say, a children's dictionary) -- allows
         the user to select a word and then click on the
         "define" button.  The definition is either popped up
         in a new window or read out loud, according to the
         user's needs and desires.
  
       * Page Layout Simplification:  By restructuring the
         display of web pages, CogWeb makes comprehension of
         a site simpler and easier to navigate.  Content
         analysis identifies the navigation components of the
         page, unstacks overly confusing layouts (such as
         overuse of tables), and builds simplified navigation
         schemes, such as graphically-labeled "next" and
         "previous" buttons in the toolbar that allow for
         standardized access to site contents across a variety
         of sites.
  
  Okay, so if this is my theoretical assistive technology
  device -- how do I, as a web designer, provide the information
  it needs in order to present an accessible view of a page to
  someone?  Here's some techniques I'll have to keep in mind:
  
       * Follow the methods (such as ALT text for images, etc)
         that enable screenreader access to my content.
  
       * Identify long words and mark them up with either the
         URI of an icon or a list of related words/concepts:
  
         <span cog:uri="http://www.kynn.com/icons/tibmastiff.gif"
           >Tibetan Mastiff</span>
  
         <span cog:keywords="dog, fuzzy, black, large, guard,
           pet">Tibetan Mastiff</span>
  
         This allows CogWeb to either download and display the
         icon (which must be 100 x 100 pixels in size), or to
         choose the best icon from the graphics library that
         matches the keyword -- for example, choosing a larger
         black dog icon (say, a Newfoundland) instead of a
         smaller, white dog (poodle).
  
       * Designate at least one additional web-based dictionary
         on pages that use complex language (dictionaries
         defined in an XML-based markup syntax):
  
         <link cog:lexicon="http://www.kynn.com/lexicons/lex01.xml" />
  
         Identify words or phrases that might be problematic and
         provide links to definitions; as well, list alternative
         text definitions inline:
  
         <span cog:lexicon="http://www.dogshow.com/vdslex.xml#catalog"
           cog:def="pictures of dogs" >Catalog</span>
  
  
       * Create pages where the navigation scheme is explicitly
         designated in the markup; use the link elements and the
         rel/rev attributes to designate relationships between
         pages in a collection.  These relationships are displayed
         on the tool bar -- see iCab for an idea of how this may
         be done.
  
       * Design pages which degrade gracefully when tables are
         removed and which allow for linearization of content.
  
  What do you think about this -style of approach- to the situation?
  How offensive is it to suggest that the solution is to work with
  rather than create the assistive technology?
  
  If that's a viable approach -- who, if anyone, is working on the
  research and development of tools especially for our CD friends?
  (In my opinion, it's not reasonable to put the entire burden of
  providing accessibility to people with CD on the shoulders of
  web designers!)
  
  
  --
  Kynn Bartlett  <kynn@idyllmtn.com>                   http://www.kynn.com/
  Chief Technologist, Idyll Mountain Internet      http://www.idyllmtn.com/
  Catch the web accessibility meme!                   http://aware.hwg.org/
  

--
Charles McCathieNevile    mailto:charles@w3.org    phone: +61 (0) 409 134 136
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative                      http://www.w3.org/WAI
Location: I-cubed, 110 Victoria Street, Carlton VIC 3053
Postal: GPO Box 2476V, Melbourne 3001,  Australia 
Received on Saturday, 1 April 2000 23:03:26 GMT

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