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Re: XML and accessibility

From: Nir Dagan <nir@nirdagan.com>
Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2000 19:01:41 -0500
Message-Id: <200001222359.SAA18997@vega.brown.edu>
To: Scott Luebking <phoenixl@netcom.com>, w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
At 02:45 PM 1/22/00 -0800, Scott Luebking wrote:

>I'm sorry to say, but your suggestion of extending XHTML for webbish
>constructs is rather simplistic.

Yes of course. But I would like to recall that there was a big discussion
at some point of how to mark navigation bars exactly for the purpose of 
allowing moving them around by the user agent.

Simplicity is a virtue, not a drawback. If one wants that a wide 
public of content providers will create accessible websites, 
one should create simple rules, from the content provider's point of view, 
for acheiving it. Returning different documents based on the request
has its virtues, but is very demanding from the content provider. Only very
websites that hire professional programmers can afford that. 
Eventually every kid and every housewife will have a website, and we want all 
of these websites to be accessible.

>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.

I think that the Content guidelines should stick to principles or axioms of 
accessible design. And that there should be a set of techniques that gives 
the "how to do" stuff. These techniques may very well include XSLT stuff.
By their nature the techniques are evolving over time while the axioms stay
This is very much how the guidelines are organized now.

This is also very good for WAI's work directly. It can evaluate other 
W3C proposals against the "WAI axioms".

I didn't say WAI shouldn't give these techniques. I said that it shouldn't 
be the major and only effort of WAI. The main effort should be in getting the 
other W3C recommendations to take into account accessiblity in the first

When WAI started alt was not a required attribute in <img> in HTML (then
so it was quite urgent to state that HTML pages without alt in <img> are
not accessible.
Now by having a better HTML recommendation (HTML4.0), we achieve much more
on the alt front than a hundred techniques documents, simply because there
are hundereds of more people 
who validate their HTML pages without reading WAI documentation at all.

Excuse me again for the rather simplistic example. It disregards the fact
that writing 
the alt text well is also very important; but I hope it is illustrative still.

I think we are standing in a begining of a period where lots of proposals
of XML
applications/modules will be in the air. WAI should be alert to influence 
those in time.


Nir Dagan
Assistant Professor of Economics
Brown University 
Providence, RI

Received on Saturday, 22 January 2000 18:59:03 UTC

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