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Re: Text equivalents and cognitive considerations

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>
Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2000 10:30:25 +1100 (EST)
To: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.SOL.4.10.10003161015190.6915-100000@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>
It should be noted in this discussion that checkpoint 14.1, requiring the
"clearest and simplest language appropriate for a site" to be used, is at
a priority 1 level, reflecting the importance which the working group
attributes to it.

I think the suggestion to require every web page to include graphics or
other non-textual components is deeply flawed, for although there are many
circumstances in which this would aid comprehension, there are others in
which it would not do so. The guidelines therefore suggest that graphics
be used where these would assist in the comprehension of the material.
There are two areas where I think we can make advances, either in the
guidelines themselves or in the techniques document:

1. The provision of more detailed advice as to what constitutes the clear
and simple language and how to judge appropriateness (this is very
difficult to do, as evinced by the debate surrounding readability measures
last year in which it was generally agreed that these were unhelpful in
the present context).

2. The development of more specific advice as to what kinds of non-textual
material are most valuable in improving comprehension and the contexts in
which they should be employed.

It should however be remembered that the guidelines are intended to be
applicable to all web sites; hence the requirements (at the three priority
levels recognised in the document) have to be framed in such a way that
they can be satisfied irrespective of the subject matter with which the
web content is concerned, ranging from a site intended for primary school
children to a site devoted to particle physics (incidentally, the web
originated in a particle physics laboratory).
Received on Wednesday, 15 March 2000 18:30:50 UTC

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