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RE: Images of text -- P1 violation or no?

From: Bruce Bailey <bbailey@clark.net>
Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2000 14:49:04 -0400
To: "Al Gilman" <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Cc: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <002101bfa578$f0d961e0$53fe330a@msde>
Dear Al (et al.),

I understand the argument, but I am loath to concede the point of P1 vs. P2.

"Impossible" is, of course -- and quite deliberately, a high standard.
Still, most of the P1 obstacles are not as insurmountable as missing ALT
text.  We know too that sometimes missing ALT content (and other P1
violations) do not always make use of a site "impossible" (even for someone
who is blind) -- for example, the missing ALT tags might ONLY be on
decorative images.

There is also the stated intention to improve the guidelines so that they
better address how to author pages so that they are more accessible to folks
with cognitive disabilities.  This falls in that category.  Well, pumping up
the font size [inside the browser in this case] so that there are fewer
words to work with is one commonly used strategy for low literacy
individuals.  The effect is VERY different in practice to just using screen
magnification -- which brings with it a fair about mental overhead and
additional level of abstraction.  (E.g., "What do you mean scroll down?  I
am at the bottom of the screen and there's no scrollbar button!")  The
magnified window is only shows PART of the regular screen (which in turn is
only showing PART of the document).  This may sound trivial, but these
concepts are VERY difficult for beginning users to pick up on.

It seems to me to be wholly contradictory to give lip service to improving
the guidelines ability to address issues effecting learning disabilities
when the justification of why something should be P2 and not P1 rests of
existence of a technique which (you admit) is beyond the skill set of
AVERAGE computer users!

For the record, I have an easy time convincing site authors that this is a
real accessibility problem.  It would be most unusual for them to suggest AT
that gets around this problem!  WCAG P2 vs. P1 makes little difference to
most folks I talk to.  I am suggesting adding a new P1 item because I think
there is a deficit in the guidelines, not because it will help me pitch
making accessibility improvements.  Sadly enough, there has been no movement
by my agency, nor others in the state that I am aware of, to give blanket
endorsement of the WCAG.  In lieu of the fact that I am personally convinced
of two P2 items that merit P1 consideration, perhaps this is a good thing.

P1:  Do not use images to provide body text content.
P1:  (5.3) Do not use tables for layout unless the table makes sense when

Bruce Bailey

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Al Gilman [mailto:asgilman@iamdigex.net]
> Sent: Thursday, April 13, 2000 2:36 PM
> To: Bruce Bailey; Charles McCathieNevile
> Cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
> Subject: RE: Images of text -- P1 violation or no?
> Yes; quick.  And dirty; i.e. erroneous.
> The 'impossible' sentence is the definition.  The "basic requirement'
> sentence is commentary.  "Basic requirement" is too open to variation in
> interpretation between author and reader.
> For the class you describe, body text in GIF with full-text ALT is a P2,
> not P1, per the definitions [based on some assumptions about the readily
> available AT].
> Yes, people should not do that.  All of the guidelines through P3 are
> things people should do.  Your personal standards tell you that to
> reasonably attempt to serve this population, one should ensure that the
> body text is text, not image.  But that doesn't migrate this
> proposition to
> a P1.  It just says you recognize the importance of this P2 proposition.
> If the built-in magnifier in the OS will display the ALT text in a size
> they can read, then their computer skills are the de_facto pacing obstacle
> and not the GIF and it is not a P1.
> I'm sorry.  You need to tell people in your organization that
> "Just because
> it may be unreasonable to expect _all pages_ to satisfy _all
> guidelines_ in
> any class beyond P1, this does not mean that there aren't Pn guidelines
> beyond P1 which shouldn't be followed as the basic marching
> orders for your
> site."
> Al
> PS: I'm copying GL and not IG because this is the sort of ruling that
> should be reviewed and consensed in GL before someone [either a staff
> person or a chair] says things on IG which by reason of their other duties
> might be interpreted as gospel.
Received on Thursday, 13 April 2000 14:52:28 UTC

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