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Re: Kynn's Analysis of CD Web Accessibility

From: William Loughborough <love26@gorge.net>
Date: Sun, 02 Apr 2000 07:26:39 -0700
Message-ID: <38E7589F.1BEC88B@gorge.net>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
AP:: "...you have neglected the very real and very easily-do-able
recommendation for web designers to illustrate their pages/sites..."

WL: Although the guidelines already include "14.2 Supplement text with
graphic or auditory presentations where they will facilitate
comprehension of the page." and narrative discussion of the importance
of illustrative materials, including those used for navigation, it is
clear that this is NOT "easily-do-able" as witness the absolute
inconsistency and vagueness of icons used in much software in which the
toolbar "illustrations" thought to be "intuitive" by some designer are
only usable when memorized by the user (scissors, waste-baskets, etc.
may *seem* illustrative to user A but I'm clearly not user A because
until I read the manual, I have no clue what they mean).

Until there are illustrative examples to the contrary it is clear that
the most nearly "universal" means of expressing the underlying semantics
of communication (what are usually called "words" of a "language"),
although far from perfect, is the use of text. No matter that Disney has
more or less replaced McGuffey in teaching reading in U.S. schools, the
plain fact is that text is what must be dealt with in our context (pun

It would probably be nice if a web designer could illustrate both the
content text and the links with easily grasped iconic materials but if I
were required by checkpoints to do so, I would be at a loss as to how to
do it or what materials to use. Unless someone can point out to me
something less vague than "illustrative" (I have enough trouble with
"simple" and "degrades gracefully"), I just don't know what to do in
this regard. For many people who can see them pictures are nice but they
quite frankly don't have anywhere near the communicative power of words
- i.e. TEXT. So long as cognitive level includes comprehension of spoken
words, (the idea that representing words in the widely understood
"icons" of text) we are going to continue using read/write as a primary
means of communication. There seems to be no viable alternative to
insert in some attribute like ALT="(widely understood icon)" and so far
no convincing evidence that "illustration" is *illustrative* rather than
just  misleadingly comforting.

So after such a long rant I guess I still don't see any proposal for a
reasonably *objective* guideline to make any of this easily doable. I
think it turns out that almost all interpersonal communication can be
carried out with a vocabulary of around 1000 words, at any age level, in
any language, so there's hope for "reading level" and "simple" but
unless better evidence for "illustration" being workable, I don't expect
much guideline inclusion.

Received on Sunday, 2 April 2000 10:27:01 UTC

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