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Illustrations for content

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn@reef.com>
Date: Thu, 2 Aug 2001 12:46:17 -0700
Message-Id: <a05100300b78f3bde7bcd@[]>
To: "Matt May" <mcmay@bestkungfu.com>, "Wendy A Chisholm" <wendy@w3.org>
Cc: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
At 10:11 AM -0700 2001/8/02, Matt May wrote:
>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

But the same can be said for alt text.  alt="IMAGE" alt="please download
this graphic!" alt="grf373.gif"

>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.

I don't know, testing is a great thing (as you know) and it probably needs
higher prominence in our guidelines.

I think we all agree:

1.  Illustrations, when used well, definitely do increase the usability
     of a site and the accessibility to people for whom text alone is a
     challenge.  (I've heard nobody object to this, except perhaps for
     Jakob Nielsen, implicitly.)

2.  Illustrations, when not used well, can introduce problems, or at
     best are "not helpful."

3.  Illustrating content is not trivial; it's usually easier for most
     people to create alt text than to create an illustrative graphic,
     for example.

4.  However, lack of illustrations may present a barrier to access for
     certain individuals.

I am fairly certain that nobody here disagrees with those things.  So the
question simply is how to write a "guideline" or "checkpoint" that is
acceptable -and- which conveys the above wisdom in a reasonable manner.

My fear is that our reliance on being a "checklist" and not a "set of
excellent principles and advice" has so limited our way of thinking
that we are unable to see the value of simply stating the 4 points
above!  Because we MUST draft everything as "checkpoints", we lose out
on the idea of "guidelines" which are good and useful.

A checkpoint saying "fully illustrate all textual material" is
absurd.  However, advice saying "illustrating textual material will
remove accessibility barriers" is amazingly useful and what's more it
_needs_ to be said!

Which is why I am really straddling the line here, but if forced to
decide I would go with Anne's "side" because I believe I would rather
have it explicitly told to web authors that "illustrations can help
people" instead of simply having this folded into vague and generic
statements about multi-modal data structures.

The _concept_ is too important to lose just because we insist on having
a checkpoint structure.


Kynn Bartlett <kynn@reef.com>
Technical Developer Liaison
Reef North America
Accessibility - W3C - Integrator Network
Tel +1 949-567-7006
Received on Thursday, 2 August 2001 16:11:02 UTC

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