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Re: Kynn's Analysis of CD Web Accessibility

From: Anne Pemberton <apembert@crosslink.net>
Date: Sun, 02 Apr 2000 13:42:13 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
At 07:26 AM 4/2/2000 -0700, William Loughborough wrote:
>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).


	If you look at the words used in menus, you will find a similar problem.
Certain commands seem to always appear under file, edit and view, but other
commands are found under insert in one program and under tools in another.
There is also an inconsistency problem in choosing to use a command from an
icon over using the same menu command (e.g. in many programs, clicking on
the save icon doesn't allow renaming or saving to a different location,
which can only be done with the menu commands. Likewise, those who use key
commands have to learn a new one with every program. 

	What is lacking is a set of standards for presenting menu options, icons
and key commands that is used in all programs. Some seem to be developing,
such as "file", "save", "open", but they must all be learned. 

	Words are really not any more precise. Simple words can be encompass a
wide range of meaning. The word "dog", for example, indicates the species
of animal, but not the breed, size, color, coat, or age. All these
specifics require additional words, phrases, sentences and/or paragraphs.
All of these specifics can be included in the same graphical presentation.
Isn't the saying "one picture is worth a thousand words"? If for some
reason you wanted to know what I look like, it would take a great many
words, some of them quite equivocable, but I can easily and less
equivocably accomplish the same goal by sending a picture of myself. 

	Incidently, some part of the movement away from McGuffy readers was the
additional requirement that schools reach/teach all children, not just
those who "take to" text. Current educational philosophies and practices
require that content/skills to be learned be presented in a range of input
styles, especially, visual (both graphic and textual), auditory, and
tactile/kinesthetic. It is perhaps the same route that must be taken to
accomodate the cognitively disabled (some of whom were historically turned
away from schools) on the web. 

>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.

William, I started using "meaningful graphic" and it didn't seem to work
for everyone, then started using "illustration" in hopes it would convey a
more easily interpreted meaning. I'm open to suggestions for another way to
put this into words so that it can become an effective guideline. 

If all graphics used as illustrations aren't perfectly wonderful, it will
be no different than the original requirement to include an alt tag that
had to be re-defined to specify that the alt tag should be more than naming
the graphic and more than a blank, but doesn't specify what exactly has to
be stated in the tag. It's a judgement call what words to use, whether to
use a single word, a phrase or sentence, or if a longer description must be
included. So, it will also be a judgement call whether to include an icon,
a drawing/art work, or a photo. It will be a judgement call whether to
include a generic dog, or a specific dog in the graphic. But the guideline
should make it difficult to justify a picture of a cat on an otherwise
un-illustrated dog-not-cat page/site.



Anne L. Pemberton
Enabling Support Foundation
Received on Sunday, 2 April 2000 13:49:20 UTC

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