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Re: Text equivalents

From: Anne Pemberton <apembert@crosslink.net>
Date: Wed, 15 Mar 2000 12:48:16 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <unagi69@concentric.net>
Cc: Web Content Accessiblity Guidelines Mailing List <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

	This is the second time I've reference this site to this list. The first
time was to get ideas on how A TEACHER creating such a site could improve
on what was accomplished so far. The site was extremely well received by
the kids I teach, 400+ elementary school students aged 5 to 8 (with the
special ed kids running to age 11). There are no blind children in this
group, about six variously visually impaired kids, and the only deafness I
know about is selective deafness when I announce that the time is up and
they must return to class <grin>! In Virginia, children who are blind and
deaf do not generally attend the regular schools but go to a special school
for them in the moutains. Sometimes such children are in public schools,
and years ago I had one student who was legally blind but had some vision
(her main label was retardation). I got a speech synthesizer, and she
refused to have anything to do with it! The learning disabled students
thought the speech synthesizer was funny, but also refused to make use of
it, which is why I am very skeptical of speech synthesizers as a blanket
solution to the text problem.

	At the time I found the site, I was disappointed that the words to the
songs weren't included because my kids would have enjoyed learning some of
the songs. I am hoping to do a page that includes one of my first grade
groups singing a song and was trying to find out the best way to make our
page more in line with accessibility. I've since downloaded the software to
use SMIL but haven't yet found time to get it usable. Sausage software
products doesn't seem to like my system. 

	Incidently, the lack of directions on the page isn't a significant problem
with children, or for that matter with many adults. Any teacher will tell
you it's a constant battle to get kids to learn to use directions, and
adults aren't much better (ask employers!). The kids had no problem
recognizing that the underlined blue text was a link and would lead to
"something". Of course, I had to download all the *.wav files before class
because the download times would have led to chaos as a waiting time. 

	What I felt was signigicant about this site, was that it WAS useful with
the kids who are learning about the people in class. I've been trying to
develop learning activities for the lab for this segment of their studies
for several months now, and have found only two sites that were useful for
anything more than harvesting pictures of the Famous Americans (and many
pages of heavy text useless becaus they lacked pictures or usable
features). This was one of the two useful sites. Both useful sites were
both done by teachers/classes in the same age group as the children I work
with, carrying all the limitations of sites created by non-web-designers
and intended as much to showcase and provide the children with the
experience of web creation as to make a universally useful site. 

	Personally, I have no further use for Lynx. I used it when there was
nothing better, but now wouldn't recommend it to anyone. When lynx was the
only way a PC could access the web, the web was useless to my special
ed/disabled students. The web has become useful with such folks, children
and adults, ONLY since it developed beyond text. It was once the province
of colleges and geeks, now, even store clerks and tradesmen comment on what
they do on the web! 


PS: I was not aware that the Famous Americans site was done in table
format, but since you say it is, I suspect it was done so that the pictures
could all appear on the screen at once, giving the user choices without
having to scroll down a page. It may be an example of the benefit of using
tables for format, since scrolling is difficult not only for young
children, but for many disabled older folks as well. 

Anne L. Pemberton
Enabling Support Foundation
Received on Wednesday, 15 March 2000 15:57:57 UTC

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