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Re: Text equivalents and cognitive considerations

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 15 Mar 2000 18:51:53 -0500 (EST)
To: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>
cc: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.20.0003151845060.6999-100000@tux.w3.org>
In general illustrations do illustrate (shed light, although obviously it
makes no difference to people who are totally blind), and it is easy enough
to provide language which recognises that there may be cases where they
don't. And particle physics is generally taught through extensive use of

I agree with Jason that an area where we need more wok is in guidance for how
to provde both well-written text and sturctures, but I still believe that the
use of non-text elements is more important than priority 3 in the general
case. Obviously changing priority is something that must wait until a
revision of the guidelines is made, but demonstrating it in techniques is
something I would like to have more time to do. It is, I find, much more
expensive to provide good graphics than to create well-written content, or
well-structured content, or to meet the existing requirements for text-based
"accessibility". And yet in the real world we find that organisations who are
willing to spend vast sums on ensuring the graphic and visual quality of
their wesite are complaingin about the cost of accessibility. Which should
give us some idea of how important it is to "ordinary people".

The challenge for us, then is to describe and provide examples of how to
illustrate with graphics, sound, dynamic content, etc, and how to do that in
a way which does not compromise our other goals and achievements.

Charles McCN

On Thu, 16 Mar 2000, Jason White wrote:

  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).

Charles McCathieNevile    mailto:charles@w3.org    phone: +61 (0) 409 134 136
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative                      http://www.w3.org/WAI
Location: I-cubed, 110 Victoria Street, Carlton VIC 3053
Postal: GPO Box 2476V, Melbourne 3001,  Australia 
Received on Wednesday, 15 March 2000 18:52:04 UTC

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