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Re: Some thoughts and Possible Action Steps for CD

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2000 04:24:39 -0500 (EST)
To: Ian Jacobs <ij@w3.org>
cc: Anne Pemberton <apembert@crosslink.net>, gv@trace.wisc.edu, "GL - WAI Guidelines WG (E-mail)" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.20.0003230411020.30953-100000@tux.w3.org>
I think the requirement can be expressed as follows:

  All content must be appropriately illustrated with multimedia.

The devil, of course, is in the detail of what appropriately means. Certainly
I see it as possible to use alternate or summary versions of content - this
is already allowed for by the guidelines as a last resort method of achieving
accessibility, although it is sadly the first response of many designers.

To present the case:

There has been a lot of work in the area of graphic communication in the last
50 years. There are many ideas which can be adequately expresed with graphics
- hence the proliferation of icons rather than text as the primary means by
which most people use common features of tools (as well as real-world places
like airports).

There are some ideas which it is difficult to express purely in graphics, but
which graphics can clarify - hence the textbooks that we have in schools and
Universities, which are nearly all illustrated.

In addition, the web provides the ability (although the cost is relatively
high) to use music and sound as an additional aid to comprehensibility -
which is why so many programs beep or chime on certain actions.

It seems clear that the priority of multimedia illustration is higher than P3
(beneficial for some people) - it is certainly important for many people, and
seems to me to be essential for some people.

I welcome the cal for further research into the problem, and better
identification of how to approach it, but I would prefer that the working
group clearly acknowledge that there is a need which we need to work out how
to meet than that we put it off until we have all the answers.

On a related note, perhaps we should consider more carefuly the issue of the
content of graphics and sound, in the same way that we have set certain
requirements for how text should be written, and for the same reasons: Not
all graphics communicate ideas well (think of some of the stranger icons you
may have been offered).

Clearly we have work to do in this area, but I am encouraged that we have
considered the issue in the original Recommendation, and are continuing to
consider how to improve on it for the future.


Charles McCN

Anne Pemberton wrote
  >         I really would like to see a guideline that states that graphics are
  > essential to some disabled persons and should be present on every
  > page/site. It should be stated that the necessary graphics are illustrative
  > not just for style and design (although some graphics could suit both
  > purposes).

and then On Wed, 22 Mar 2000, Ian Jacobs wrote:
  >From WCAG 1.0:
  Checkpoint 14.2: Supplement text with graphic or auditory
                   presentations where they will facilitate
                   comprehension of the page. [Priority 3] 
  It sounds to me like you are requesting that this requirement
  have a higher priority. According to our priority scheme, if not
  having graphics will make the page inaccessible to some users, then
  this has to be a priority one checkpoint. I have two comments:
  1) Will graphics address this issues? My sense is that we need further
     input on this thread and from additional sources demonstrating that
     such a requirement will actually improve accessibility. 
  2) To make such a requirement palatable (and I think it's important that
     the document be palatable, even if the level of difficulty for the
     author does not figure into the present priority scheme), we need to
     define more clearly the cases when graphics are required.  Where do
     draw the line to decide what concepts require associated images? What
     if I, as an author, deem something obvious and therefore not
     an illustrative image, but someone with a CD still doesn't
     How do I know when I've provided sufficient graphical alternatives?
  I realize this is a difficult issue and I'm glad we're having this
   - Ian

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 Thursday, 23 March 2000 04:24:45 UTC

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