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Re: Illustrating Guidelines

From: Anne Pemberton <apembert@erols.com>
Date: Thu, 10 May 2001 19:55:21 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: "Matt May" <mcmay@bestkungfu.com>, "William Loughborough" <love26@gorge.net>, <ryladog@earthlink.net>, "3WC WCAG" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

     replies in line...

At 09:52 AM 5/10/01 -0700, Matt May wrote:
>No image is instantly universal. Even the most basic symbols, including the
>men and women on bathroom doors, have been subjects of years and years of
>research. Even the stop sign as used in the US requires alt text. Symbols
>are heavily dependent on culture and conditioning. And illustrations, when
>done by the average author, don't often result in anything of substantial
>value on their own (and almost certainly nothing to approach parity with the
>written word), because we as a society have not been trained to produce
>visual messages.

Neither is any one word universal. And, depending on your age, you were
purposefully or accidently taught to use maps, tables, graphs, photographs,
drawings, and other illustrations as you wended your way to a dissertation.

>> The notion that text is superior to illustrations is a false pride
>> engendered by a desire to separate users into those worthy of receiving
>> message and those who are unworthy. Ther should be no distinctions of
>> worthiness in accessibility.
>I will say this: almost as a rule, text without illustration is superior to
>illustration without text for information density. The exceptions are where
>the message itself is purely visual in nature, and where designers have
>worked expertly to communicate their message visually.

Sigh .... It's not "almost a rule" ... it's not even a rule ... you must
not have encountered the amount of badly written text that I've seen
"published" online! 

>There is no "politics/religion" in citing text as first among equals for
>content provision, and it's not a cop-out. We are almost universally trained
>from birth to communicate near-exclusively by verbal or textual means.

Who, where, when, and with what disability??????

>Education in spoken and written language and composition is compulsory. 

Cognitively disabled children have only been included in education in the
past 30 years or less depending on area ... Educational opportunity is now
a right, but there are many adults who came up before this was so ... even
now, there are many children with disabilities who receive something other
than the "compulsory" education.

>closest most of us get to visual communication training is art class, which
>often only addresses it by accident. Few people, I'm sure, have done their
>dissertations in pictures or illustrations. This is why we communicate
>primarily using text, and why illustrations are often extraordinary.

Hey the "academic high achievers" aren't the sum of the population, and
certainly aren't typical of the disabled adult in the US or elswhere. Yes,
there are unique individuals who have achieved academically in some
disabled groups, but they are the exception not the rule. The vast majority
of those with disabilities are from other walks of life. 

>Anne, is unnecessarily combative, particularly in this setting, and is
>generating more heat than light.

Matt, if not us, then who? If not now, then when?


Anne Pemberton

Received on Thursday, 10 May 2001 21:02:36 UTC

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