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RE: Graphic Designers work - potential for WCAG?

From: Bailey, Bruce <Bruce.Bailey@ed.gov>
Date: Wed, 23 May 2001 10:54:31 -0400
Message-ID: <5DCA49BDD2B0D41186CE00508B6BEBD0022DAF7E@wdcrobexc01.ed.gov>
To: "'Anne Pemberton'" <apembert@erols.com>
Cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Comments in line.  Anne, I've consolidated a couple of your messages...

>     First of all, while William is working with earcons, I have not worked
> with icons. I have worked with illustrations. There is a world of
> difference in them, both as to use and in how they are made. Icons would
> require drawing skills I don't have and/or software and hardware that I
> don't have.
We have been fairly loose with our terms.  Webster defines illustration as:
"an example or instance that helps make something clear" or "a picture or
diagram that helps make something clear or attractive".  Icon is defined as
"a sign (as a word or graphic symbol) whose form suggests its meaning" or "a
graphic symbol on a computer display screen that suggests the purpose of an
available function".  I think your work
<http://users.erols.com/stevepem/guidelines/G3/g3.html> is closer to being
"iconic" than illustrative.  The only image that comes close to being an
illustration is <http://users.erols.com/stevepem/guidelines/G3/pageset.gif>

> As I thought about what was needed to illustrate Guideline 3, I
> hit on the idea of showing the pages with sections marked, which I could
> do
> with what I had available. 
As I wrote before
<http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-gl/2001AprJun/0371.html> I
think your prototype example is great, but the images largely fail as
"illustrations" because they are not IMHO useful unless one is already quite
comfortable with the concepts and content they refer to.  The tools used for
creating icons are the same as those used for other graphics.

> 	Icons are useful a quick reference marks in the content and are used
> to
> find pertinent sections of content,
As I argued earlier, this is all your "illustrations" are doing.  They are
visual bookmarks that are helpful to people who are already familiar with
the material.

> while the illustrations share the same purpose as the text content.
I agree that this is the purpose of illustrations.  I don't think you have
achieved that, except with <pageset.gif>.  BTW, the WAI documents are not
completely bereft of good illustration.  Consider, for example:

> The same icon may appear in many places, but an
> illustration would be specific to a certain text content. 
Icons might only be used once.  This is often true for icons that represent
specific applications, for example.  (Icons representing documents are
frequently re-used.)

> 	I do agree that the W3C icons should be in the smallest color
> palette that
> they can use. Yes, the icons, after they have been developed and approved,
> should be done in SVG. If they can be developed in SVG that would save
> time, but I don't know if Meg has the software and skill yet to work in
> from the git-go. Since her web page shared her comparisons of gif and jpg,
> I suspect she may not be ready to create in SVG. I'm not sure of the
> benefits of PNG ...
It's not enough that the palette be small -- is should also be (perhaps a
sub-set of the) standard.  I will leave it to Wendy to decide if the format
should be gif/png/svg/bmp (or some combination).  I brought the issue up
just as a reminder.  I would not be so bold as to assume that Meg is not
comfortable with SVG.  She espoused so articulately on the differences
between gif and jpeg, I would be inclined to believe her conversant with
other related subtleties.  My understanding is that Adobe Illustrator
already supports SVG, and I am sure there are others, so why wait?
Information on PNG is available at URL:  <http://www.w3.org/Graphics/PNG/>

> 	If we include icons and illustrations with the guidelines, we will
> certainly improve the comprehension of the guidelines, and make it easier
> for people to find the  pertinant sections. The earcons are also to help
> people find the pertinant sections. It would be most useful if the earcons
> were automatically included in the sound/speech output done for a
> non-sighted person, as they would then duplicate the use of the icons for
> those who are sighted.
I agree with both of these points.

> 	I do NOT think that illustrative and graphical talent is spread as
> thinly
> in the population as you think. I've seen too much quality stuff on the
> web
> (not necessarily accessible), to think it's hard to do. If there were not
> some excellent writers in the bunch, we'd be looking for someone to
> construct the text as well as the graphics! (and sometimes when I'm
> reading
> the guidelines, I wonder if that isn't essential anyway!)
It is interesting that our experience of surfing the web is so different.  I
regularly encounter plenty of photographs, graphical rules and bullets,
decoration, graphical text, and clip art.  There is also the occasional line
drawing, but most of these would seem to be scanned from paper.  Good
original graphics (except for textual buttons and banner logos) are the
domain of well financed (primarily commercial) sites.  The only "mom and
pop" type shops I have seen that are exceptions to this are the small
business (like Meg or Widgit) that are in the field of graphic art!  If I am
wrong about this, please send me four links to counter examples.  Let's keep
such a discussion off-list however!  (We can get back to the list with our
findings if you like.)

Someone (my apologies for forgetting who) recently pointed out that we all
start drawing before we start writing.  That we abandon such pursuits is
probably cultural, but the fact of the matter is that graphical talent
(especially that which translates well to the computer screen) is extremely
thin.  Almost all of us using writing as part of our work life.  How many of
us routinely create drawings as part of our jobs?

> 	As William said, it's now a matter of "when", not "if"... If nothing
> else,
> Lisa Seaman's response to my not-professional level illustrations
> indicates
> that it must be a "when" if we are going to do what the charter says we're
> to do. If there were 2 or 3 more on the committee with more background in
> graphics, but I'm simply not good enough at it to do what needs to be
> done.
> One hires a professional to do whatever one cannot, whether it's to
> replace
> the transmission in a car, or to change the oil because one doesn't want
> to
> get yucky, or illustrate a document as important as the one we are working
> on. I expect, as Meg goes about doing the job of a professional, she will
> end up learning a lot about web design from an accessibility standpoint,
> if
> she doesn't know already. 
I would expect that Wendy has suggested someone who already knows something
about accessibility!

> William and I, and perhaps others did notice that when one goes about the
> task of illustrating text, the problems in the writing stand out.
> Sometimes
> I had to add to the text mentally, in order to make a complete and useful
> illustration, and sometimes I had to choose which parts of the text to
> illustrate since to illustrate all would have required too large a piece
> (at least with my limited illustrating skills).  
This aspect of the process has been valuable.

> Unless a cost-benefit analysis is required of all guidelines, I don't
> think
> the issue of including graphics needs to be addressed. What is the
> cost-benefit of requiring a sequenced script of audio and multi-media? Was
> that a consideration? Or is this a strawman?
We find that we need to paying someone from the outside to provide this
aspect of the work.  This is telling.  The development of the standards was
largely voluntary.  One of the principle tenets of accessibility is that it
doesn't cost much (or anything) -- if incorporated into the original design
and planning.  Retro-fitting -- repairing problems -- is expensive.  Lack of
foresight is usually costly.  No where (in WCAG1) is the suggestion made
that audio or multimedia should be added to web sites!

This is hardly a straw man.  It is a frequent complaint that there are NO
highly-graphical sites which model all P2 checkpoints.  Should WAI provide
such a model?  Is it better to demonstrate (as the current WAI site does)
that accessibility can be achieved at no measurable cost?  Well funded
organization can buy afford to add accessibility if they can afford a
graphically rich site.  The implied message that accessibility means hiring
professional may be counter productive.

> As William says, we're finally to the point of saying this is a "when",
> not
> an "if" ... Lisa made the point of how necessary this is when the reader
> is
> directly in the targeted audience ... 
I would like to see thoughtful discussion on the question on "when" versus
"if".  I don't think that has yet happened.  Mostly we have been exploring
just the feasibility of such a project.  Just because we can do something
doesn't mean we should do it!  I am very much looking forward to Meg's first
cut at this.  Like Lisa, and probably most others on this list, I too what
to know the limits of what can be done.

> Bruce, the guidelines are very good at explaining how to make alternatives
> for graphics, sound, and multi-media  but not very good at explaining how
> to make alternatives for text. Filling in that gap is another step in
> meeting the goal of the charter ...
As I and others have pointed out repeatedly:  NO ONE knows how to
systematically explain how to make alternatives for text!
Received on Wednesday, 23 May 2001 10:55:09 UTC

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