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RE: Text equivalents

From: Bruce Bailey <bbailey@clark.net>
Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2000 15:37:16 -0500
To: "Anne Pemberton" <apembert@crosslink.net>, "Jonathan Chetwynd" <jay@peepo.com>
Cc: "Web Content Accessiblity Guidelines Mailing List" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <000a01bf8f87$6ab70740$53fe330a@msde>
Dear Anne,

I appreciated your post to Heather Swayne regarding FrontPage.  I hope she
responds.  Comments about your recent post to me are in line...

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Anne Pemberton [mailto:apembert@crosslink.net]
> Sent: Wednesday, March 15, 2000 5:27 PM
> To: Bruce Bailey; Jonathan Chetwynd; Gregory J. Rosmaita
> Cc: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Mailing List
> Subject: RE: Text equivalents
>
> At 02:09 PM 3/15/2000 -0500, Bruce Bailey wrote:
>> Anne,
>> I think Gregory's point is that we should be looking for model
>> pages/sites
>> that meet your and Jonathan's expectations that are *ALSO* P1 compliant.
>> There is not much virtue to addressing cognitive issues if such
>> accommodations break the pages for other users.
>
> Bruce, some part of the point Jonathon and I are making is that it may not
> yet be possible to both comply to the current guidelines and accommodate
> the needs of those who got to the breakfast table last. I could much more
> easily point out pages which are "P1 compliant" that are useless

The percentage of pages that are P1 compliant that you find useless for your
needs is certainly no greater than the percentage of pages on the whole that
you find useless.  I don't think I see your point here.  I don't see a
conflict between the WCAG and needs of folks with cognitive disabilities.
The page you cited earlier as being appealing COULD very easily be made P1
compliant.  Are you publishing stuff somewhere that does meet your needs?  I
think this group would provide a great deal of help with making the pages P1
compliant without breaking their functionality from your perspective.

> to most of
> the disabled folks (the cognitively disabled, remember, are present in
> greater numbers in the population than those who would perceive such pages
> as "broken", and even greater number than the "rich folks" whose toys are

The appeal to "rich folks toys" is not a priority.  It is a way to reach out
to other markets that fail to appreciate how the WCAG effects more than
folks with disabilities.

> touted as deserving of accommodation. Certainly, this discussion group
> should consider the needs of ALL disabled folks equally, not giving
> preference to one group or another.

This list has been very good about not giving preference to one group or
another, and I don't think it is fair to characterize it any other way.

> I'm not sure how similar Jonathan's situation is to mine, but I am in this
> group as an individual. I do not get paid, nor am I encouraged in any way
> by my employer to participate. I participate only because I care deeply
> about this portion of the disabled population who gets downtrodden badly
> enough by life "as we know it" anyway. I give the time to the project that
> I can, but I can't do the work of the whole group all by myself. I would
> love to be able to attend the upcoming conference and address you in
> person, but I would have to finance it myself and cannot do so.

Most of us are here as unpaid volunteers, motivated primarily by heartfelt
passion.  Your calling is not so unique.  Many of the active participants on
this list, myself included, won't be at the upcoming conference -- also
mostly for financial reasons!

> In the past, Jonathon and I have been asked to point out sites that were
> appropriate for the audience we discuss, and it has been difficult to find
> ones that were appropriate and not strictly entertainment. Now you expect
> us to only report on appropriate sites that are compliant to guidelines
> that literally ignore the needs of this group. Why? If you are one of the

I disagree with your characterization that the WCAG ignore the needs of the
cognitively challenged.  It addresses those needs as best as ANYONE has been
able articulate in writing!  He is too modest to bring it up here, but Dr.
Vanderheiden (just as one example of people on this list) has worked
directly with people with profound cognitive impairments FOR DECADES (sorry
if that makes you sound old Gregg).  He, and others, HAVE brought that
expertise and experience to their contributions on the WCAG.

> members of this group who is well-addressed by the guidelines, and you are
> frustrated because the sites appropriate for our folks unusable,
> perhaps it

Knowing what I know about "special education", I have found the sites that
you and Jonathan have put forward (PeePo included) to be somewhat
entertaining, but not generally useful -- except to a very specific
classroom for a very specific activity -- and only then with a considerable
amount of teacher/instructor/mentor intervention.  I have certainly seen
nothing that addresses in a generalizable way as to how to make sites useful
and meaningful for non-readers.

> would be well for you to reflect on how these folks may feel when they pay
> taxes for sites you can use and they cannot before you display anger.

What anger have I displayed?  My apologies if I have offended you.  Please
let me know where and how.  I have not felt anger, so I don't know how I
would have conveyed that.  Like you, I am frustrated with this discussion,
but, from my perspective, that is because I don't feel like you are really
contributing anything concrete to move this particular dialog forward.

> 	I have, since you wrote, replied to Greg's points.

Yes, and in part you wrote (when asked to try your hand at drafting a
specific guideline or two):

>>> I don't seem to have the skills to write a guideline that expresses the
>>> needs of "all the above" of your examples. But I can share thoughts and
>>> experiences, and hope someone else in the group can turn them into the
>>> necessary words for a guideline.

I apologize if this sounds harsh, but that reads like a cop-out to me.

> I could do so only
> because I am home today with a malady that is either a bad cold or a nasty
> attack of spring allergy. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to reply
> except to perhaps one response per night when I got home from work. I have
> put in some six hours to replies today between sneezes, coughs,
> tissues and

I am sorry you are sick, but does that news belong on this list?

> C-tablets. Of course, if someone wanted to pay me to just work on these
> issues, I could and would do more. Wanna volunteer?

Would that I had the money to hire you.  I would like to be able to afford
to buy a hippopotamus too.  Of course, if I had that kind of money, I
probably wouldn't be spending it on zoo animals!

> 				Anne
>
> Anne L. Pemberton
> http://www.pen.k12.va.us/Pav/Academy1
> http://www.erols.com/stevepem/Homeschooling
> apembert@crosslink.net
> Enabling Support Foundation
> http://www.enabling.org

Complaining that the WCAG does not contain required sites to including
meaningful graphics is like very much like complaining the WCAG doe not
require sites to be well designed.  Sure, sites should do both things, but
that's not the point!  Site authors ARE ALREADY TRYING to include meaningful
graphics.  They ARE ALREADY TRYING to make their sites beautiful and
appealing and well designed.  THERE IS NO POINT is making
requirements/recommendations for this kind of thing UNLESS one can construct
specific tangible non-ambiguous rules, guidelines, standards or benchmarks.
The WCAG has a definite philosophy behind it (see "Themes of Accessible
Design"), but it is NOT an opinion piece.  It isn't a preachy "do the right
thing" feel-good white paper.  It is a rather mechanical and practical "how
to" (and even why) document.  It is paired with the techniques document
which is even more mechanical and technical and how-to!

If the WCAG had proposed a vague "make it accessible to all people with
disabilities" and "we don't know what exactly it is that we want, but we'll
let you know when we get it", what kind of credibility and utility would it
have?

Anne, your perspective on this issue is very valuable.  IMHO, however, your
recent posts on this thread have not been very constructive.  Please, try
drafting tangible checkpoints that address what you are looking for in a
style that is consistent with the language of the WCAG.  It doesn't have to
be perfect.

It is common knowledge that it is extremely difficult to convey in pictures
the semantic intent that is captured (usually quite well) by written
language.  This makes it quite impossible (and I hope you prove me wrong
about this) to create guidelines for achieving such a task!  Think about
Hieroglyphics as an example.  There is picture-writing for you!  Does the
use of graphics in this case make the meaning clear to someone who is
illiterate?

Having re-read this twice and edited it, I now post this.

Cheers,
Bruce
Received on Thursday, 16 March 2000 15:40:14 GMT

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