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RE: Some thoughts and Possible Action Steps for CD

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn@operamail.com>
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 18:23:16 -0500
To: apembert@crosslink.net
Cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Message-ID: <38E4EB10@operamail.com>
Anne Pemberton wrote:
>I suspect you are making a moutian out of a molehill.

And I would claim that you are making a molehill out of mountain!

>Your Virtual Dog Show site is about dogs.

Yes and no.  The Virtual Dog Show site is about an online dog
show, it's not a site -about- dogs.  For example, other than
looking at pictures, you won't find much information that tells
you about various breeds of dog or anything else related to
them.  It's -not- purely a dog site, not in the way that, say,
dog.com is a dog site.

>Add a dog picture to the opening page, and you have made the
>page accessible to those who use pictures for navigation.

Wow!  That's all?  It's so easy!

Actually, I am being sarcastic here.  I think that by statements
such as the above you either grossly underrepresent the difficulty
of the task, or you don't -understand- how to create a graphical
navigation system.

With a picture of "a dog" on the top page of the Virtual Dog
Show, you do -not- magically create an accessible page; even
with my limited understanding of the issues related to CD, I
am aware of this.  Maybe you simply do not have much experience
with web design and navigation systems, but it feels like you
do not have the answers to some of the most basic questions
related to graphical navigation systems.  Here's some that
I would ask, as a web designer, to further clarify your suggestion
of "a dog picture":

1.  What kind of dog picture would work best?
2.  What would this dog picture represent?  The show?  Something
    else?
3.  The nature of the Virtual Dog Show is that one dog alone
    cannot accurately represent the entire site.  How do I
    present an image of a dog without it seeming as if that
    is the -only- type of dog you can find here?  (As an
    example, the Tibetan Mastiff home page, located at
    http://www.tibetanmastiffs.com/, features a picture of a
    TM puppy, to identify it as a TM site.  If I put a sheltie
    on the VDS site, would that identify it as a sheltie site?)
4.  Where should the picture be located, and if it's part of
    the navigation system, where should it go?
5.  Will this really work and provide access in the way you
    claim it will?

>Another point (I think I suggested this to you some time back), was to
>change the word on the link that goes directly to the pictures of the dog
>entrants to something more illustrative of the page than the word
>"Catalog". "Dogs" or Dog Pictures would be more illustrative.

I know you suggested that, and I chose to reject that advice, because
the word "Catalog" has a specific meaning within dog shows, and the
Virtual Dog Show is supposed to be an online representation of a 
dog show.  The use of the term "Catalog" was specifically chosen to
extend the metaphor we use, and is wholly appropriate for most of our
audience.

>There is also
>still the problem of the ad at the top of the page from "Living Free" that,
>most times I've visited, shows a cat or two, adding more confusion as to
>what the site is really about.

Except, as you say, that's an ad.  And advertisers generally should
be free to select whatever they want; if you claim this should be some
sort of -restriction- on the VDS site, then you have clearly crossed
over into that realm which you labeled a "molehill" and which I call
a "mountain" -- the realm in which I am forced to make substantial
artistic, creative, and business practices changes to my web site
purely to (supposedly) serve the needs of a certain population (although
this has not yet been demonstrated to me that it -will- do so, beyond
your continued assertions-without-proof).

>It will not require a total redesign of the page to includ a picture of
a
>dog at the top of the site.

Yes, it will.

>You now have a nice graphic of a blue ribbon
>where the dog should be.

That is a design consideration, not an accessibility consideration.
Do you understand the difference?  Do you really want to insist that
all web pages be created the way -you- prefer them (and, supposedly,
people with CD like them) in the name of accessibility?

>The blue ribbon can be moved to the top right of
>the page leaving the page title between the two illustrative graphics (the
>blue ribbon indicates there is a contest involved).

You -really- don't understand web designers, do you?  Or else you'd
have some sort of idea how this kind of "advice"/"demand", in the name
of "greater accessibility," is very threatening.

>Can you ask the sponsor to put dog picture/s in their ad on this page?

No.  The sponsor is paying me money and can put whatever they like,
within reason.  If -you- would like to pay for the ads on the VDS
site, then I might consider what -you- have to say about them.

>When I read the guidelines, I was happy with the term "multi-media", whi
ch
>I took to include simple graphics, photos, drawings, etc. I don't read into
>it that you *have* to use the fancy stuff.

I'm glad you were happy with it.  I'm not.

Demanding the use of multimedia whenever it will (supposedly) improve
comprehension is an undue burden upon web creators, and by using
"multimedia" instead of "images" it certainly does imply "the fancy
stuff."  Most real web designers will not think "multimedia" means
only "simple graphics."  Thus, Charles' use of the term is very
problematic in this case.

Let's try to apply it.  I start out with the Virtual Dog Show site as
it is.  Someone pushy comes along and says "you must put a picture of
a dog on your site!"  I do so.  Someone else tells me, "you must put
it -here-!" and I do so.  They then tell me "you must make your sponsor
change their ad!" and I do so.  So I think I've got my page made
accessible at last.

Then someone else comes along and says "hey wait this can't be under-
stood just by the ribbon and the dog picture -- you need to have 
*multimedia*, such as a flash animation with pictures of dogs walking
before a judge and one getting awarded a prize."  So I shell out
several thousand dollars to a macromedia artist and he makes it, and
I put it on the page.  Then someone else says "huh, I don't understand
that without sound, put sound on the page!" and someone else says
"it seems to me that this is a show for cartoon/animated dogs because
you use rendered, not photographed dogs in your movie, so you need
to hire a commercial film studio to shoot live dogs in competition
in order to make it clear!"  Then someone else says...

I am very, *very* worried about any guideline which seems to amount
to "if this can't be understood as it by some sector of the audience,
throw multimedia at the page until it sticks, lather, rinse, repeat."

--Kynn

PS:  "Squick" is a word that apparently originated in the BDSM 
community.  I'm not part of that particular kink, but here's a quote
from http://www.submission.net/AboutBDSM1.html :

"There will be things you will encounter in BDSM that will not be
interesting for you. In fact, there will be things that may stun you
or gross you out! This effect is so common that there is a word for
it. People say they are squicked when they encounter something that
someone else does that makes them feel squeamish or "icky." (The word
"squick" conflates those two words. The word is attributed to STella,
a well-known and feistily articulate woman in the BDSM community in
San Francisco.) If something squicks you, just leave that section and
go on to something else."

--
Kynn Bartlett <kynn@operamail.com>
http://www.kynn.com/
My Browser Is Faster Than Yours
Received on Monday, 27 March 2000 18:24:55 GMT

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