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Re: Illustrating Guidelines

From: Matt May <mcmay@bestkungfu.com>
Date: Fri, 11 May 2001 09:00:25 -0700
Message-ID: <04d801c0da33$8efff420$6601a8c0@sttln1.wa.home.com>
To: <apembert45@lycos.com>, <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
----- Original Message -----
From: "Anne Pemberton" <apembert45@lycos.com>
>     Lisa didn't just find the illustrations "nice", she found they helped
her more quickly and efficiently process the content. I think that is the
point you are missing, tho I've no clue why. This is not just about making
the web "nice", or even "more friendly", tho there are some checkpoints that
do no more than that already (such as synchronizing scripts).

MM Synchronized text (WCAG1 1.4, WCAG2 1.2) allows deaf users to receive
pure audio content in multimedia presentations. Synchronized auditory
descriptions (1.3 in both) allow blind users to receive pure visual content
in multimedia. Both of these are more than "nice" and "friendly".

> The definition of priorities is that, for P1 priority, it needs to be
necessary for a substantial number of users. This is the case with graphics
and multi-media.

MM No, it isn't. Not in the same way alt text is necessary to blind users.
Without alt text, 100% of blind users will fail to receive information from
an image. The presence of alt text on an image makes access to data less
than impossible. The same is not true of illustrations: 100% of the
cognitively disabled will not fail to receive a document that's not

P1 compliance doesn't make every web page a utopian paradise for blind
users, either. All it does is make it less than impossible for everyone to
receive the ones and zeroes such that their computer can present it to them.
(This bears repeating: the _computer_, or rather the physical human
interface device, is the dropoff point for most of the checkpoints. How it
gets from the HID of the user's choice into his or her brain is not
something that's easy to quantify.)

What is necessary is the use of _good_ illustration through graphics and
multimedia, and what is "good" is extremely dependent on the content being
presented, and -- I'll say it again -- the _people_ who are producing the
content. The number of people who are capable of creating illustrations,
audio, motion video, or interactivity is extremely small relative to those
who can produce text or HTML, and the subset who can do multimedia in a way
that complements the text is a small fraction of that. You can require
multimedia all day long, but if they don't have the tools (which are
expensive) and the skills (which take months to build and years to master),
what we'll get is a web full of silly, irrelevant clip art someone tacked on
because we (or a tool like Bobby) said it's "accessible."

I want to see guidelines that can be easily followed without significant
retooling by content providers, and rules that are proven to increase access
to people with all disabilities, but _without_ reducing usability for the
rest of the users of the web. Forcing illustration and multimedia without
regard to who is providing it or what it's being used for as a P1 is not the
way to improve accessibility or usability to the web as a whole.

> I'm not sure how "fairly common" it is to browse with images turned off...
On this list, some folks say they use the web that way, but in my life away
from this list, NO ONE I KNOW uses the web that way! Just as I don't know
anyone in real life who uses television without the screen on, or listens to
anything but music on the radio....

Blind users browse without the help of images, and watch TV without their
eyes. That's pretty common. There is also a measurable percentage of the web
who browse without images using Lynx, or by manually turning their images
off to save download speed.

Received on Friday, 11 May 2001 12:09:26 UTC

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