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Re: Text equivalents

From: Anne Pemberton <apembert@crosslink.net>
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2000 09:58:06 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: love26@gorge.net, w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
At 01:46 AM 3/14/2000 -0800, William Loughborough wrote:
>If you have any ideas that might help, please let us know. The reason
>for providing text alternatives for illustrations is that this is useful
>for some people *AND WE KNOW HOW TO DO IT*. Of course we won't stop
>calling for that in the guidelines. If we simply say "provide
>alternatives to text" we are faced with the dilemma of trying to explain
>how to do that and I have absolutely no idea where to begin.


	When I kept reading and re-reading the first guideline, it seemed to me
that the answer of "How to do it" was right there in the guideline. Simply
round out the guideline to include everything. If there is to be a text
alternative to audio, then audio is an alternative to text. Likewise,
graphics/illustrations, which require a text alternative, can be the
alternative to text. Video or multi-media is also an alternative to text
that is widely used (in the form of TV) by those who cannot process text.
In the site, http://www.ih.k12.oh.us/ps/americana/Eberle/EBsongs.htm , two
forms of information are provided, pictures of the persons, and songs that
describe why these people are important to study. The only text on the page
is the name of each person under the picture (which is the link to the
music). While the substance presented on the page may be a bit limited for
older folks, the format used can meet the needs of those who cannot process

	It really is do-able, William, but it does require thinking "out of the
box" to look for what is useful to this population instead of text. 

	It may be necessary to look at all the "bad stuff" that isn't accessible
to those who prefer text, and identify those techniques that have come
about because the non-education segment of the web audience like them, and
determine those which have evolved because they meet needs of users, and
insure that the guidelines don't discourage these formats. One of the most
frequent "accommodation" provided to learning disabled high schoolers is to
have a teacher or adult "mark up" or highlight the important facts in a
text using color. Learning disabled as well as other kids are taught to use
tables and illustrations to guide understanding. All children are taught to
organize information into table format and to extract information from
tables. Sometimes the information put in tables is "data" and can be easily
linearized, but much tabular information is in sentences or paragraphs, and
without the table format, the relationship between facts is lost. These are
a few of the issues in the guidelines that I find problematic for this
large segment of the disabled communities. There are undoubtedly more I
haven't focused on.

	IMHO, the guidelines would be greatly improved if the need to provide
alternatives to text were included and stated as accommodations to the
needs of the many disabled who are now avoiding text on the web.


Anne L. Pemberton
Enabling Support Foundation
Received on Tuesday, 14 March 2000 18:12:50 UTC

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