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Re: Kynn's Analysis of CD Web Accessibility

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Mon, 03 Apr 2000 21:11:18 -0700
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Anne Pemberton <apembert@crosslink.net> wrote:
 >What is lacking is a set of standards for presenting menu options, 
 >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.

Have you looked into user interface standards (such as Apple's,
Microsoft's, etc.) enough to state that there is a lack here?

 >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.

Okay...so how?

(You may encounter a lot of this from the people in this working
group -- people saying "okay...so how?"  That is because some of us
are pretty easy to convince that something is *right* and must be
done, but then we want to know *what* to do.  When you speak in
generalities you only encourage us to prod you for specifics, and
when those are not provided, some of us may get frustrated.)

 >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.

Can you put it into pictures?

(This is only half tongue-in-cheek.  If you can't illustrate this
particular proposal, then there is a loss of credibility here --
if you are having problems with the words, perhaps we should look
beyond them, and if we can't do that, then it's hard to see a useful
solution ahead of us.)

 >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.

Except, it's not a judgment call -to- use ALT text.  It's a judgment
call what that ALT text should be, although we have some pretty well-
defined procedures for generating ALT text from a given graphic.  (There
may be some disagreement about the specific "rules" to use, but that
itself should tell you there's a large enough body of knowledge regarding
ALT text for there to even *be* opposing views within the same camp!)

 >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.

Wow, you seem pretty hung up on encountering a cat on a Virtual Dog
Show page.  Apart from your own quirkiness regarding this, can you
prove to me that it represents an accessibility hurdle for anyone?
I'd really like to know, and that's warring with my regret of ever
mentioning the VDS in this context, since you seem to have fixated
on it...

In the field of web accessibility, there are -real- accessibility
problems and there are -imagined- or -possible- or -theoretical-
accessibility problems.  For example, it's theoretically a problem
with accessibility if I don't label each language change on my
page.  (Gregory Rosmaita does a great job of labeling all his headers
as being "in latin" on his site.)  However, in practice, that 
presents few actual accessibility problems because there are few
(if any) browsers or screenreaders that deal with inline language
changes.  If he were being picky, Gregory could point out missing
labels for language changes on my web site -- but I would then ask
him, "is this just a theoretical problem or a real, tangible one?"

Likewise, I can find usability problems on web sites (something I'm
asked to do often) by claiming that some easily understood text word
could be taken for a second meaning.  Would anyone actually do that?
I may have no idea.  It may just be a -theoretical- problem in
usability.  In a usability setting, I would conduct user tests to
find out -- it's very easy, when picking nits, to fixate on something
as a usability guru that you're CONVINCED is a problem, and then find
out that the users never even considered your nitpicking!


Kynn Bartlett  <kynn@idyllmtn.com>                   http://www.kynn.com/
Director of Accessibility, edapta                  http://www.edapta.com/
Chief Technologist, Idyll Mountain Internet      http://www.idyllmtn.com/
AWARE Center Director                         http://www.awarecenter.org/
Received on Tuesday, 4 April 2000 00:15:21 UTC

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