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RE: Simplest and clearest...

From: Charles F. Munat <chas@munat.com>
Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2001 15:11:20 -0700
To: "WAI Guidelines WG" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Anne Pemberton wrote:
"We need to ask the author to write clearly and simple as appropriate to the
content, as is appropriate for the widest audience, and as is appropriate to
the purpose of the site."

I reply:

I think this is where we differ in our beliefs about accessibility.

I believe that:

1. Writing clearly is always a good idea. But you might be surprised by what
is clear. For example, the clearest and simplest expression of Einstein's
Theory of Relativity is e = mc2, where e is energy, m is the mass at
velocity v, and c2 is the speed of light squared. Simple, exact, and clear.
But I doubt that anyone on this list (myself included) understands even a
small portion of the implications of this simple equation.

2. Keeping the language simple is often a good idea, but not always. This is
where the proviso "as appropriate to the content" comes in. If I am writing
poetry and publishing it on-line, should I have to use simple terms? What if
I am writing a polemic against capitalism? If Thomas Pynchon had published
"Gravity's Rainbow" on line, should he have had to rewrite it so that a
third-grade student could understand it? Should he have had to hire an
artist to illustrate it?

I answer: No.

3. There is no need to write for the widest audience. What gives us or
anyone else the right to tell Web site developers who their audience should

4. Al Gilman has already explained quite convincingly why we shouldn't
include the purpose of the site. I'll leave it to him to respond to that.

I like the checkpoint the way it is.

For more discussion on this, please see my follow-up email entitled "A brief
examination of purpose."

Chas. Munat
Received on Friday, 17 August 2001 18:09:06 UTC

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