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Re: Illustrating Guidelines

From: Matt May <mcmay@bestkungfu.com>
Date: Sat, 12 May 2001 09:34:38 -0700
Message-ID: <076e01c0db01$7fdb42a0$6601a8c0@sttln1.wa.home.com>
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>, "William Loughborough" <love26@gorge.net>
----- Original Message -----
From: "William Loughborough" <love26@gorge.net>
> I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "efficacy of multimedia". It's hard
> to imagine that anyone in the discussion thinks that multimedia
> presentations aren't effective.

My position all along has been that simply the presence of multimedia in a
page is not sufficient; that it can't be done adequately due to the skills
and tools of average content providers for web content that could otherwise
by these guidelines be considered accessible; and that there isn't a rule to
be crafted that is more specific than 3.4 (Use multimedia to illustrate
concepts) which can be followed uniformly.

The simple addition of a clip-art tennis ball to a news article on tennis,
or a picture of a Windows box in a knowledge base article, would only be
helpful insofar as showing someone who can't read the words that the page is
about tennis or Windows, which is about as good as having alt text that says
"image" for describing its content. It's my belief, based on those I've
spoken with, that putting a requirement of multimedia on all content would
largely be satisfied by the attachment of one or two images like this to
satisfy Bobby, and that would be it. Unreasonable requirements will be met
with unreasonable solutions.

There is a reason good multimedia is good multimedia. When it's
well-designed, it can illustrate concepts extremely well for many people. We
call such multimedia "good", and we call things good so rarely, because
there is so much that's bad out there. Flash movies, in particular, violate
common UI principles in horrible and unpredictable fashion, which makes them
unusable _and_ inaccessible. I don't want to see people getting the message
that bad multimedia, which is either un- or counterproductive to our goals,
is better than none at all for all web content. (Worse, "good" and "bad" are
highly subjective, and often have little to do with "usable" or
"accessible." Content providers don't know that, either.)

And, once again, this doesn't address legacy content. If I have gigabytes of
textual technical data, which date back to 1995, and it would cost me more
than my entire annual sales figure to retrofit with graphics and multimedia,
can I still make my site single-A accessible? And if not, what incentive do
these sites have to meet any of our other checkpoints? Further, content
aggregators like Yahoo and CNN don't even control most of their content, as
it comes off the wire and is repurposed (not exclusively written) for the
web. Can they never be accessible, because of that dependency?

Here's what it all comes down to: we have to trust the providers with their
content. There is so much we don't know about their content and how it's
managed that the best we can do is keep them informed about how to do things

Received on Saturday, 12 May 2001 12:37:18 UTC

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