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RE: examples of a variety of sites that include illustrations of concepts (i.e., examples of 3.4)

From: Joel Sanda <joels@ecollege.com>
Date: Thu, 2 Aug 2001 13:11:19 -0600
Message-ID: <2FECE9363D811B418C3F282834F172A56DBE2F@sundance>
To: "'Matt May'" <mcmay@bestkungfu.com>, Wendy A Chisholm <wendy@w3.org>
Cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Matt -

Well said. I can find animated GIFs and "home movies" all over the Internet
to plug into my content. But if I spend six hours writing up a set of
lecture notes for my theoretical phsyics class and then have to write or
find an Applet or similar "learning object" that will illustrate the point,
just to put it on my site and comply with my school's accessibility
requirements - I'd not put them on the website.

I love playing around with Java, HTML, CSS, PHP, Apache, and ASP. But none
of that has anything to do with graphics. I cannot "do" graphics - and
neither can most people. Not everyone can sit down and write compelling
words and neither can everyone design compelling images. 

I'm curious: what would the WCAG 2.0 be like if 3.4 worked "both ways": the
text content and the non-text content. Could we come up with a set of
success criteria that would ensure accessible text content? What if we
operated under the assumption the web was entirely graphical and we were
writing 3.4 to recommend adding text content for people who cannot see?
That's much of what the WCAG 1.0 was about - but it would be an interesting

Joel Sanda 
Product Manager
> p. 303.873.7400 x3021
> f.  303.632.1721 

-----Original Message-----
From: Matt May [mailto:mcmay@bestkungfu.com]
Sent: Thursday, August 02, 2001 11:12 AM
To: Wendy A Chisholm
Cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Subject: Re: examples of a variety of sites that include illustrations
of concepts (i.e., examples of 3.4)

----- Original Message -----
From: "Wendy A Chisholm" <wendy@w3.org>
> Joel and others are concerned about burdening authors if we ask them to
> illustrate concepts.  So, I decided to take a look at a variety of sites,
> particularly science research sites such as physics, to see what I could
> find.  In about 1/2 an hour, I found the following 12 pages.  Note that
> they all contain some sort of non-text content.  Particularly, the physics
> technical papers - which at least contain graphs and tables of data.
> I am not saying these examples are perfect, I am trying to show that
> illustrations and use of multimedia is more widespread than some people
> have been suggesting.  Also, that it is probably less of an "undue burden"
> than some have hypothesized.

I don't think anyone is arguing that multimedia (as a set including static
images) is not widespread on the web. After all, it was the ability to embed
images in documents that set the web apart from, say, gopher, back around
'94. Really, any page you visit, you'll find graphics. I just don't think
that merely their presence as a rule increases access or usability.

The point I've been trying to make is that presence does not indicate
quality. Good graphics require forethought. If sites, particularly
commercial ones, are going to answer a call to add other media, they need to
know who and why, not what and how. That is, authors need to know how
multi-modal communication aids cognition, and determine what they can do
with their content to accommodate that. If they don't know or care about
that, and take a set of rules they're not actually invested in, they're
going to do a terrible, and quite possibly counterproductive, job of
satisfying the checkpoint.

Also, those sites which I felt used graphics effectively clearly had
integrated them early in the content design process. Those who did it later
appeared to have less relevant images. The implication here is that attempts
to make legacy content accessible (which is to say the entire web up to the
date WCAG 2 is published) will falter, where they are able to get off the

I'm also thinking about technical and legal considerations. News sites
(including CNN.com) repurpose wire copy, which is necessarily plain text.
The sheer volume of wire copy makes it impossible to design or discover
relevant images for each one, and even then it would be done by someone
other than the original content provider. The majority of the largest
content sites around use mostly repurposed content, and it is often strictly
controlled by contract.

Maybe Charles and Kynn are right that my issue is really with the compliance
scheme, and maybe sometime soon someone can tag me with an action item to
come up with tweaking it. But even absent a compliance scheme, I still have
trouble applying success criteria to a checkpoint when the true measure of
success can only be discovered through testing.

Received on Thursday, 2 August 2001 15:11:19 UTC

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