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Re: More on 3.4

From: Matt May <mcmay@bestkungfu.com>
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001 17:36:23 -0700
Message-ID: <024401c11a2c$1e7a9dc0$6501a8c0@vaio>
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>, "Anne Pemberton" <apembert@erols.com>
----- Original Message -----
From: "Anne Pemberton" <apembert@erols.com>
>          It is not only in guideline 3.4 in which we presume to suggest to
> the author of a page that his/her horizons be expanded .... we do this
> throughout the guidelines.

The 1.0 guidelines do no such thing. In the case of alt text and
synchronized scripts, all that happens is that shortcomings of _technology_
are overcome. WCAG 1 asks authors to use their eyes and ears to take down
technical barriers to those who can't use their eyes or ears. All of WCAG 1,
save 14.1 (clear and simple language), boils down to:
1) use the technology appropriately; and
2) where the technology can't make itself accessible, do it yourself.

This includes 14.2, the predecessor of 3.4:
14.2 Supplement text with graphic or auditory presentations where they will
facilitate comprehension of the page. [Priority 3]

I honestly don't see why anything more needs to be said, or why this needs
to be tied to some metric for words to pictures, as has been suggested.
Authors need to be reminded that this is a consideration to be made with
content, not ordered to change how they produce it, or given some number
they can interpret as being satisfactory. I see the current 3.4 lulling
authors into a false sense of security with "success criteria" that don't
lead to more comprehensible sites. It's not that easy.

WCAG 1 tells people what to do with their message, without necessarily
changing its format. The current 3.4 requires a direct change in content
itself, which is much more invasive and bound to be ignored, even where it
is actually feasible (which my experience tells me is not often). I think
WCAG 1 got it right.

> An author who intended content to be a graphic
> is required to expand that concept to include an alt text and sometimes a
> long description. Do we ask if the author has the skills or tools to do
so?
> No, we just say do it ....

We do assume that the author has the skills and tools to make a site
accessible. Every rule in 1.0 can be implemented for HTML and CSS using the
same tools and skills the author used to create the site. And authors should
be able to interpret the images down to alt text using their knowledge of
both the content and context of the image (that is, we _already_ are
depending on the author's knowledge of his or her content to make things
accessible). What they can't do, reliably, is learn visual communication at
the drop of a hat.

Which introduces another problem that hasn't as yet been asked: if graphical
representations are required in a document to make them "accessible", does
that not preclude nearly every author who is blind from creating accessible
documents?

-
m
Received on Tuesday, 31 July 2001 21:48:56 GMT

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