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Re: Cognitive issues (was Re: woodcutter)

From: William Loughborough <love26@gorge.net>
Date: Mon, 03 Apr 2000 06:36:58 -0700
Message-ID: <38E89E7A.A02DC734@gorge.net>
To: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
CMcCN:: "I can go to many countries and get food and drink without
speaking any of the language."

WL: The key words in that are "speaking" and "the". If we use the broad
version of "speaking" and get over the idea that there is "the" rather
than "any" language we might understand that at the level of underlying
semantics we have little quarrel. Whatever mode one uses to join our
concepts has become called "language" which has some kind of root in
"tongue" I suppose - i.e. conceptually we are as audio-centric as we are
retinally conceited. Neither seeing nor hearing however are
pre-requisites for communication and whatever means we use is *language*
for the purposes of this discussion - and its elements are *words*
whether they are abstracted into text, sounds, signs, whatever.

Our problem is that Web content, in order to communicate optimally poses
certain requirements and if you believe that "dog" is too vague and that
the materials in "woodcutter" have any precision of information transfer
then we're out of touch with one another. "Comic strips...do this." Only
for people who have extensive and intensive training in their use. The
ones Chaaarls refers to are not at all clear to me in any meaningful
communicative sense. All forms of translation are (to say the least)
less than perfect - but that doesn't keep us from getting through to one
another. If we could but specify how to illustrate our texts in order to
better communicate them to people who have trouble with the icons called
"text" it would be helpful - so far there have been none proposed that
don't require at least as much training as text itself; e.g. Bliss
symbols are as good an idea as Esperanto and have about as much chance
of universal acceptance, which is virtually nil.

From the beginnings of these threads it has been a constant "the WAI is
too hung up on 'helping the blind' to the exclusion of those whose needs
are completely different" vs. "tell us what *SPECIFIC* guidelines to
include so that these other needs can ALSO be addressed" with little new
ground being broken. Charles further: "There are graphic languages that
can convey quite complex ideas". Unfortunately these languages are, like
Bliss, of use to about twelve people on the planet. Words as text is, at
least so far, our best medium. If we can find ways to effectively
supplement it, great, but I find it hard to believe that it's going to
be animated cartoons - hope I'm wrong.

Jason's "So far in these discussions, little has been offered by way of
concrete advice in this direction." is still the case. I remember the
first time I heard the phrase "program music" which was supposed to
somehow communicate specifics, but that's a cruel joke that emphasizes
the vast cultural chasms that separate us from USABLE illustrative stuff
- these elements are not going to be any more easily learned than text
use. Just my opinion, I could be wrong.
Received on Monday, 3 April 2000 09:37:28 UTC

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