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Re: Illustrations (was Re: Meeting agenda)

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2001 11:40:34 -0400 (EDT)
To: Marti <marti@agassa.com>
cc: WAI GL <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.30.0104121124330.18863-100000@tux.w3.org>
Actually, I disagree with your assertion about the skills everyone has.

I think your statement about learning to read and write is probably true for
the mebers of this list, but I know it is not true for people like my nephew,
who at 24 cannot read or write, and people in communities where schooling was
an option they were not offered. I suspect it is not true for people like
some of the students Jonathan Chetwynd works with, and Teachers of deaf
students have regularly asserted to me that their students do not have more
than rudimentary skills in this area. (In other words this is not scientific
knowledge, but anecdotal evidence)

And on the other hand, I like many people I know was taught at school to put
together coloured shapes or cut-out images to convey a story or an idea, and
a very important part of the training I got in high school science and
mathematics was in illustrating, accurately and unambiguously, what I was
trying to explain. Learning to drive involved developing the ability to
rapidly process essentially visual (3D graphic) information, and
demonstrating that I had learnt to do so in order to get my license involved
being able to express much of what I had learnt in a graphic format. If I
want to know how to get from one place to another, the most commmon methodd
of explanation for anyone I ask is to either draw a map, or to provide some
text verbally and a number of visual illustrations.

None of these are universal experiences, but I would suggest that they are
actually "typical" experiences, like learning to read and write, and that
most people have some skill in both written and graphic expression. Some
people have only one or the other, or have one to a far greater extent.

In regards to the idea that we need to work out how to express what an
illustration does, I agree entirely, and am trying to do some basic work in
this area as it applies to the Web in particular. Some simple strategies and
ideas are expressed in the SVG accessibility note I worked on with
Marja-Riita Koivunen http://www.w3.org/TR/SVG-access and I have written about
this in various wierd mailing lists (including WAI ones). This is one of the
areas in which I expect the semantic Web work to have a large and rapid
impact (but that depends on people actually working on it, of course <grin/>)


Charles McCN

On Thu, 12 Apr 2001, Marti wrote:

   While there certainly are poorly written websites (and everything else too)
  we all had to take English (or whatever native tongue) in school and
  therefore have some foundation in how to write. While there may be some art
  courses in "how to illustrate" it is not something we should expect any
  significant number of people to have much experience or expertise in.
Received on Thursday, 12 April 2001 11:40:38 UTC

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