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RE: Some thoughts and Possible Action Steps for CD

From: Anne Pemberton <apembert@crosslink.net>
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 13:17:31 -0500
Message-Id: <3.0.5.32.20000327131731.007f37f0@apembert.pop.crosslink.net>
To: Kynn Bartlett <kynn@operamail.com>
Cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Kynn,

	One of the basic jobs of a special ed teacher is making molehills out of
mountains... <grin>

At 06:23 PM 3/27/2000 -0500, Kynn Bartlett wrote:
>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!

Let me see if I can whittle down your mountain a bit...

>>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.

Kynn, What is the topic of your page? Is it about cats, trains, airplane,
outer space? No, it's about dogs. More specifically, it's about a dog show.
Picturing a certain breed shown doesn't identify it as a site about that
breed. Dogs are dogs. But, the only picture on the opening screen is a pair
of cats....

Visited http://www.dog.com and there was a large graphic of the word "dog"
(which is word learned pretty early in reading), a picture of a dog by the
box to select a breed (it was of only one breed, of course), and an ad for
a dog screensaver that included a slide show of various breeds in the
center of the opening screen. (nice design!)

>>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.

I know you are. I'm trying to avoid it. I don't understand why you perceive
it so onerous to illustrate your topic/theme, etc.   

Perhaps you can enlighten me on the obstacles to creating a graphical
navigation system. I'm new to it. 

>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.  

No, Kynn, one cannot just add a picture and ensure accessibility any more
than you can just add an alt tag and ensure accessibility. The picture has
to be illustrative, not merely there, just as an alt tag should say "photo
of jo blo" instead of "img004.jpg". Someone has to put some thought,
creativity, and sense of communication into the decision of what picture to
put, just as someone has to put some thought, creativity, and a sense of
communication to writing the text and the alt tag. 

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?

The one the web designer feels best illustrates the site. 

>2.  What would this dog picture represent?  The show?  Something
>    else?

The picture should represent the page or the site. If the site is a the
show, then that's what should be illustrated. 

>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?)

As I said above, a dog is a dog. But a dog isn't a couple of kittens.

>4.  Where should the picture be located, and if it's part of
>    the navigation system, where should it go?

On the opening screen.

>5.  Will this really work and provide access in the way you
>    claim it will?

Now that the suggestion/recommendation has been made, it can be tested.
That's the next step. 

>>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 really doesn't matter if you are making artistic and creative changes to
a web site to accommodate the blind and some visually impaired, or if you
are accommodating the graphically dependent and those who need/rely on
graphics (which includes one legally blind person among my online
acquaintenances, and my husband who both visually impaired and dyslexic,
both of whom thoroughly enjoy receiving links to full page graphics which
have no alt tags or long descriptions). My assertions-without-proof are the
requests of folks I care about who cannot/will not join this discussion
themselves. If you would like to assert that Patt and Steve, Stacy, and
others aren't worthy of accommodations, please don't make it to me.

>>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.

Sorry, it wouldn't for me ... but then I'd have probably put a picture of
the most recent winner in that top left corner from the git-go. But then,
what do I know about web design?

>>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.

Kynn, as above, this was advice to you on *your* page, not the advice I'd
give to an unknown web designer. The guidelines should specify only that it
be on the opening screen. 

>>When I read the guidelines, I was happy with the term "multi-media",
which >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.

Then, go back to my original word: Illustration. It doesn't necessitate
fancy multi-media to illustrate. 

>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."

The intended audience of a page or site is who you address. If you know
with some certainty that your audience will not and/or should not include
person with cognitive/reading/learning disabilities, you can skip it, since
the guidelines aren't intended to apply to "Mom and Pop" sites. But it
won't be an "accesssible site". 

The web pages I'm doing for the school are intended for the parents of
Southside students and the taxpayers of Dinwiddie County. I know with
certainty that there are no blind web users in that audience, so do I have
to put alt tags on the graphics? It also won't be an "accessible" site.

				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
Received on Monday, 27 March 2000 21:33:10 GMT

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