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Re: XML and accessibility

From: Scott Luebking <phoenixl@netcom.com>
Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2000 14:45:42 -0800 (PST)
Message-Id: <200001222245.OAA09354@netcom.com>
To: nir@nirdagan.com, phoenixl@netcom.com, w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Hi, Nir

The professional work I've done in human-computer interaction
is strongly based on observing users.  Therefore, I've been watching
blind people using web pages.  There are some fairly predictable
problems which can be avoided if the pages are designed for blind users.

While there has been a strong drive towards "universal design" in many areas,
dynamic web page generation is a technology which does not benefit
from that approach.  Technology like XML/XSL/XSTL allows each web page
to be created for each user's needs.  This means that there need not be
any compromises made for one user in order to avoid inconvenience
for another.

I can get my dynamically web pages with rich visual design.  Blind web
page users can get their web pages without the visual aspects which
makes it harder to navigate with access technology.

As an experiment, observe a blind person navigating through the two
different web pages at my demo site at:

     http://members.aol.com/criptrip/dynamic_web_pages/demo.html

Which is easier for them to use?  I happen to prefer the more visually
interesting format which is harder for blind people to navigate.
Why shouldn't I get that type of web page?  Why should the type of
dynamically generate web page I like be compromised?

The content guidelines forces certain styles of writing web pages and
certain compromises which are important for stored web pages but
really are not needed for dynamically generated web pages.

I'm sorry to say, but your suggestion of extending XHTML for webbish
constructs is rather simplistic.  My suggestion would be to observe
blind users working with web pages.  Keep track of amount of time
and effort.  Observe how long it takes to find something on a web page and how
often they get lost.

I don't quite understand your comment on it being preferable that WAI
not create guidelines for using given specifications.  It would seem that
the guidelines/techniques do just that, e.g. recommending use of the LABEL
tag, not using TABLE for layout, etc.

Scott


At 12:14 PM 1/22/00 -0800, Scott Luebking wrote:
>Hi,
>
>The XML/XSL/XSTL technology provides the ability to use an XML file
>to create different types of web pages.  For example, an XML file
>could contain information for an article.  An example of an artcle
>XML file could look like:
>
>    <article>
>      <head>
>        <date>20 January 2000</date>
>        <title>Some title</title>
>	<author>A. Nonymous</author>
>	<keywords kw="key1, key2, key3" />
>      </head>
>      <body>
>	<p>  paragraph 1 text ...
>	</p>
>	<p>  paragraph 2 text ...
>	  <picture src="???"> picture caption text </picture>
>	</p>
>	<p>  paragraph 2 text ...
>	  <a HREF="???"> link text </a>
>	</p>
>      </body>
>    </article>
>
>The XSL/XSTL can now be used to create different types of web pages with
>the same article text.  One XSL style sheet could create a web page with
>a very visually appealing layout.  Another XSL style sheet could use the
>same XML file and create a web page which would be much easier to use by
>blind people by presenting the artcile in a format without all the
>layout features which makes it visually appealing.  In addition, the XSL
>style sheet could include special features in the web page which will
>make it easier to navigate.  (Many of the arguements which have been
>offered for using CSS style sheets can also be applied to using XSL.)
>
>
>Users of XML/XSL/XSTL technology or any of the other technology which
>can create web pages dynamically will need to know what a web page
>designed for blind users needs to include.  It would seem to make sense
>that the guidelines tell these people how a web page which is generated
>dynamically should be structured to make it easy to use by a wide range
>of blind users with varying technology / access technology skill levels.
>
>Scott
> 
===================================
Nir Dagan
Assistant Professor of Economics
Brown University 
Providence, RI
USA

http://www.nirdagan.com
mailto:nir@nirdagan.com
tel:+1-401-863-2145
> >It would seem to make sense
> >that the guidelines tell these people how a web page which is generated
> >dynamically should be structured to make it easy to use by a wide range
> >of blind users with varying technology / access technology skill levels.
> >
> >Scott
> 
> I do not think that we need special guidelines for a page generated 
> dynamically by XSL transformation. The guidelines that we have for 
> markup of the "content document" and the guidelines for 
> "stylesheets" do the job. Transforming the page by XSL is applying 
> a stylesheet to the page.
> 
> One thing that is needed is to extend XHTML to include markup for 
> webbish constructes such as navigation bars. This will allow authors 
> to mark the content well and users may use various transforming 
> stylesheets, according to their needs/preferences.
> 
> This type of addition to XHTML seems as a better solution than
> requiring content providers to study in detail the needs of every user.
> 
> The author of a page will have only to know what he is trying to say. 
> The designer of the stylesheet, that may be the user or his browser, will
> have 
> to know how he wants to read the page. Did someone say "separate
> content/structure 
> from presentastion?" XML and XSLT allow for this separation to higher level
> than HTML and CSS.
> 
> In general, it is desirable that WAI will actively work on other 
> specifications of W3C, rather than passively create guidelines how 
> to use the "given" specifications. (I am not saying that WAI doesn't do 
> as I propose) Clearly, when WAI started the latter 
> was of greater urgency, but I think priorities may change.
> 
> Regards,
> Nir. 
> 
> At 12:14 PM 1/22/00 -0800, Scott Luebking wrote:
> >Hi,
> >
> >The XML/XSL/XSTL technology provides the ability to use an XML file
> >to create different types of web pages.  For example, an XML file
> >could contain information for an article.  An example of an artcle
> >XML file could look like:
> >
> >    <article>
> >      <head>
> >        <date>20 January 2000</date>
> >        <title>Some title</title>
> >	<author>A. Nonymous</author>
> >	<keywords kw="key1, key2, key3" />
> >      </head>
> >      <body>
> >	<p>  paragraph 1 text ...
> >	</p>
> >	<p>  paragraph 2 text ...
> >	  <picture src="???"> picture caption text </picture>
> >	</p>
> >	<p>  paragraph 2 text ...
> >	  <a HREF="???"> link text </a>
> >	</p>
> >      </body>
> >    </article>
> >
> >The XSL/XSTL can now be used to create different types of web pages with
> >the same article text.  One XSL style sheet could create a web page with
> >a very visually appealing layout.  Another XSL style sheet could use the
> >same XML file and create a web page which would be much easier to use by
> >blind people by presenting the artcile in a format without all the
> >layout features which makes it visually appealing.  In addition, the XSL
> >style sheet could include special features in the web page which will
> >make it easier to navigate.  (Many of the arguements which have been
> >offered for using CSS style sheets can also be applied to using XSL.)
> >
> >
> >Users of XML/XSL/XSTL technology or any of the other technology which
> >can create web pages dynamically will need to know what a web page
> >designed for blind users needs to include.  It would seem to make sense
> >that the guidelines tell these people how a web page which is generated
> >dynamically should be structured to make it easy to use by a wide range
> >of blind users with varying technology / access technology skill levels.
> >
> >Scott
> > 
> ===================================
> Nir Dagan
> Assistant Professor of Economics
> Brown University 
> Providence, RI
> USA
> 
> http://www.nirdagan.com
> mailto:nir@nirdagan.com
> tel:+1-401-863-2145
Received on Saturday, 22 January 2000 17:47:06 GMT

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