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Re: XML and accessibility

From: Scott Luebking <phoenixl@netcom.com>
Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2000 18:02:31 -0800 (PST)
Message-Id: <200001230202.SAA20458@netcom.com>
To: nir@nirdagan.com, phoenixl@netcom.com, w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Hi, Nir

The reason I said that the suggestion about extending XHTML is
simplistic is that there needs to be more research into what problems
blind people have using web pages.  The issue of navigation bars is
actually a specific example of a more general problem that blind people
have in navigating through web pages.  In general, blind people will
work more efficiently when web pages are organized along lines of the
importance of semantic information.  In the case of navigation bars,
navigation bars are of less semantic importance and it would be better
to put them after the more important information of the dynamically
generated web page.

Please remember that the discussion is about dynamically generated web
pages.  This almost automatically implies that some level of programming
is involved.

Since there has been little discussion on what is needed for web pages
designed for blind users, it is not very easy to conclude how much
effort is needed in developing them.  Also, having a separate web page
for blind users might simplify development of web pages for sighted
users.  So, it might be that a larger, complex problem of developing
dynamically generated web pages for both blind and sighted user could be
replaced by two smaller, simpler problems.

I would agree that the guidelines should stick to principles or axioms.
The question to be resolved is whether there is the same of set of
axioms for stored pages as there is for dynamically generated web pages.
This cannot be answered until there is better understanding about what
is needed in web pages dynamically generated for blind users in order
that they can can be both efficient and accurate when using the web

In terms of dynamic web pages for blind users, it is irrelevant whether
the HTML was generated from XML, databases or any other data source.
The more important aspect is that the resulting HTML has the appropriate
information and structure needed by blind people using the dynamically
generated web pages in order to be efficient and accurate when using the
web pages.


> 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
> variables 
> has its virtues, but is very demanding from the content provider. Only very
> large 
> 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
> fixed.
> 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
> place.
> When WAI started alt was not a required attribute in <img> in HTML (then
> HTML3.2), 
> 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.
> Regards,
> Nir.
> ===================================
> Nir Dagan
> Assistant Professor of Economics
> Brown University 
> Providence, RI
Received on Saturday, 22 January 2000 21:02:41 UTC

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