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RE: Comments on SUFFICIENCY for tomorrows COnf Call

From: Wendy A Chisholm <wendy@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 12 Jul 2001 15:04:37 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: Anne Pemberton <apembert@erols.com>, <gv@trace.wisc.edu>, w3c-wai-gl@w3.org

Note that I am using all caps and asterisks to emphasize text.  I did this 
instead of using markup to make the message easier to read.  Let me know if 
this doesn't work for you (i.e. screen readers users may want to have more 
punctuation read).

Also, please keep in mind the W3C process that we operate under:
We are here to reach consensus, that usually means compromise.  In this 
message, I am searching for the common ground between us *ALL*.  We are 
hear to listen to each other and respect each other.  I do not want to 
start another debate about why illustrations are needed or not, or if they 
help or not.  Some of those issues will come up again, but I hope we can 
look at the bigger picture.  I feel we have reached a higher level of 
understanding and that we have made progress on this topic.  We're not done 
yet and I appreciate everyone's patience.  This message is intended to 
continue moving us forward rather than bringing us back into similar 
discussions we have had the recent months.

With that said...

The extremes of the argument on this topic seem to be:
*ALL* text *MUST* have a non-text equivalent
*SOME* text *SHOULD* have a non-text equivalent.

I'll explore this through a lot of writing and some thought. Please bear 
with me...

Let's use my W3C people page as an example [1].  It is a very simple page 
with a simple purpose: to give people a brief introduction to me.  I have 3 
images on the page: the W3C logo, the WAI logo, and a photo of myself.  The 
logos give context to the work that I do and my involvement in the W3C. My 
photo helps people identify my age, style, and personality.

[1] http://www.w3.org/People/wendy/

The text on the page describes the work that I do and how I got here. I use 
lots of hypertext links; For each major concept or organization I link to a 
different site.  In some ways, this is a non-text equivalent for the 
text.  From one word, you can find a whole lot more about that word than I 
could in one illustration.

For example, I link to the Special Olympics.  By visiting that site, you 
get several illustrations and photographs.  You can find out more about the 
games and programs, much more than I could in one illustration.  You can 
get a general feel of the site and hopefully understand that it is a sports 
organization through the photos on the home page.

Likely, if I were to include an illustration on my home page to accompany 
the link to the Special Olympics, I would include their logo. However, 
would their logo (a globe of people that kind of look like snowflakes) 
really help someone understand the page that much better?  Would they 
understand the concept of my relation to the Special Olympics? If they 
don't recognize the logo, what will they understand? Would they be more 
likely to follow the link to find out more?   What association will they 
make with the logo if they don't know what it is and can't read the text 
and don't visit the other site? That I like snowflakes?

This is just one example and I got a little silly at the end of it. I hope 
it illustrates the point that I think linking to a site ought to be 
considered as a non-text equivalent associated with text.

Note: I don't think including their logo would do any harm...I'm just 
curious about how much more understandable or approachable it will make may 
home page.  If I had a table of numbers,  a bar graph would significantly 
aid understanding.  I don't see the same benefit from a logo.  Whether we 
like it or not, we do have to consider costs and benefits.

How about this as a compromise:
*MOST* text *SHOULD* have a non-text equivalent.
Non-text equivalents include but are not limited to: illustrations, videos, 
audio clips, virtual environment simulations, links to other sites, links 
to illustrations or videos, links to audio clips, etc.  also, metadata 
could be used to define relationships between text and non-text.

This is a similar approach to William's "earcons" - he links to them from 
phrases on a page.

How do we define *MOST*?  Here are some questions to figure out when it is 
most important to provide non-text equivalents for text:
Is it P1 to illustrate concrete ideas (i.e. a bridge) but P2 or P3 to 
illustrate abstract ideas (i.e. love)?
Is it P1 for an education site, but P2 or P3 for john doe's personal site?
Is it P1 for sites whose main audience is people with cognitive or learning 
disabilities but P2 or P3 for all others?
Is it P1 to use illustrations for navigation features of a site but not 
abstract ideas?

Personally, I find it easier to illustrate or find existing illustrations 
of concrete ideas than abstract ideas.  I find it more important for an 
educational or work site to be more accessible than a private site.  I 
would ideally like all sites to be accessible to all people, yet I know we 
will never reach 100%.  Human communication is not perfect and you will 
never know exactly the reality that I know nor I know yours.

Finally, there are a variety of functions that an image can perform.  We 
discussed this quite a lot during the development of WCAG 1.0.  For 
example: decorative images help define mood, style, 
personality.  Illustrative images convey relationships (particularly of 
data), such as graphs, charts, photographs of a machine being 
described.  Personally, illustrative images for difficult concepts would 
get a higher priority than decorative images.  Also, images to help someone 
navigate would get a higher priority.  This reflects my own personal style: 
I express myself in words much better than in visual presentations.

Therefore here are some things to consider as we think about how we would 
define *MOST*:
- function of the image
- abstract vs. concrete ideas (nouns vs. verbs vs. adjectives vs. etc.)
- purpose of site
- audience of site
Some of these overlap with the axes I describe in "Wendy's unillustrated 
notes, thoughts, and questions about the recent WCAG WG "Illustrating 
Guidelines" thread" at http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/2001/05/cog-notes.html

Anyway, I hope that wasn't too difficult to wade through.  Please respond 
to the feasibility of the proposal and questions raised within.


> >Checkpoint 3.4:
> >1. Illustrations must be designed to portray important concepts or
>relationships employed in the content.   [SOUNDS LIKE ADVICE OR RULE RATHER
> >2. Where appropriate, illustrations should be referred to in the text
>(e.g., in a caption or as part of the textual exposition), to provide the
>reader with an appropriate context in which to interpret the illustration.
> >
>Gregg, I have problems with the whole thing and would suggest it be totally
>redone, starting with the purpose of the guideline, which is to
>encourage/require that content include illustrations. Not all illustrations
>must address only the important concepts and relationships, they can also
>illustrate minor points and still aide in comprehension of the content. And
>it really isn't necessary to mention the illustration in the text. Nice to
>do, but certainly not anything close to a should or a must.
>What is a must, is that text have a non-text equivalent. It it is not
>clearly stated in Guideline 1, as it should, then if it must be buried in a
>substep of Guideline 3, then 3.4 should be unequivocal about what is
>important. Dabbling in design of illustration and captioning isn't making a
>web page more accessible to a  "skip the text" user.
>                                         Anne
>At 12:41 AM 7/12/01 -0500, Gregg Vanderheiden wrote:
> >I sent it in DOC , HTML and RTF.
> >
> >It should not be in proprietary format.
> >
> >Here it is in text.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >-- ------------------------------
> >Gregg C Vanderheiden Ph.D.
> >Professor - Human Factors
> >Dept of Ind. Engr. - U of Wis.
> >Director - Trace R & D Center
> >Gv@trace.wisc.edu <mailto:Gv@trace.wisc.edu>, <http://trace.wisc.edu/>
> >FAX 608/262-8848
> >For a list of our listserves send “lists” to listproc@trace.wisc.edu
> ><mailto:listproc@trace.wisc.edu>
> >
> >
> >-----Original Message-----
> >From: Jason White [mailto:jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au]
> >Sent: Thursday, July 12, 2001 12:02 AM
> >To: gv@trace.wisc.edu
> >Cc: GL - WAI Guidelines WG (GL - WAI Guidelines WG)
> >Subject: Re: Comments on SUFFICIENCY for tomorrows COnf Call
> >
> >I still can't read the document attached to Gregg's message. It is in
> >some kind of proprietary format.
> >
> >Please, always send documents as plain text or in HTML.
> >
> >Attachment Converted: "c:\eud-anne\attach\WCAG 2 Sufficiency11.txt"
> >
>Anne Pemberton

wendy a chisholm
world wide web consortium
web accessibility initiative
seattle, wa usa
tel: +1 206.706.5263
Received on Thursday, 12 July 2001 14:54:26 UTC

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