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RE: Simplest and clearest...

From: Anne Pemberton <apembert@erols.com>
Date: Sat, 18 Aug 2001 18:21:35 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: "Charles F. Munat" <chas@munat.com>, "WAI Guidelines WG" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

         Finished reading your whole message, and I think I understand that 
you want to make an exception for content which is "art" as widely defined 
as desirable .... and I do see your point. Illustrating a novel may be as 
insulting to a novelist as a long description of a work of art would be to 
the original artist or an inserted video description may insult the 
director of a movie, etc. Do you think it would be appropriate to exclude 
art (in it's many modes and forms) from following the guidelines? Text that 
was Art could be unillustrated and Art in a graphic or multi-media, video 
or audio file would not need an equivalent.

         Isn't this another of those slippery slides?


PS: if you knew me well, you would know that my "bias" for graphics in this 
discussion is due to the mission I came with on this list - to see that 
those who depend on graphics had someone speaking for them as these 
important guidelines are brought into being. Further, the audience I create 
many web pages for in my life off this list, need the illustrations 
although not necessarily due to disabilities. Only an idiot would try to 
make pages for non-readers to use, that did not include illustrations! I've 
even tried it, just to prove to myself it doesn't work. (So I'm an idiot 
for trying it!) ... Seriously you are trying to discredit me, personally, 
instead of my points. I could just as easily point out that your protests 
are nothing more than elitism that assigns inferiority to persons with 
learning or cognitive disabilities.  If you feel the need to spit flames, 
let's exchange them offlist.

At 02:15 PM 8/18/01 -0700, Charles F. Munat wrote:
>I'll remake my point for the benefit of others. Suppose that Thomas Pynchon
>DID publish "Gravity's Rainbow" to the web in text-only format. Clearly, you
>would consider that he had not met the guidelines. You say that this is OK,
>"as long as he doesn't try to insist it's 'accessible'."
>But I say (pay close attention here): Not only would his work be accessible
>as is, it would meet the guidelines. I would have no problem with Pynchon's
>"Gravity's Rainbow" flying a "Meets WCAG 2.0" icon even in text-only format.
>I'll say that again as clearly as I can:
>If Pynchon published Gravity's Rainbow as-is to the web, it would:
>Gravity's Rainbow is a work of art. As such:
>1. It requires no explanation. It is what it is. You get it or you don't. I
>get some of Gravity's Rainbow, but no doubt I've missed a lot. If I asked
>Pynchon to explain, he'd be within his rights as an artist to simply smile
>and say nothing. And if he did explain, his explanation would be an
>explanation. It would not be Gravity's Rainbow.
>2. There is no visual equivalent of Gravity's Rainbow. It doesn't even work
>in translation. You might get a similar effect, the plot might be the same,
>but the power of Gravity's Rainbow depends in large part on the *way* it is
>written. Change one word and it is *no longer Gravity's Rainbow*.
>Thus Gravity's Rainbow, as with all art, IS in its clearest and simplest
>form at the time of its publication and *no equivalents are possible*.
>Now, if you wanted to create a site that "explained" Gravity's Rainbow in
>pictures, then -- assuming you had the copyright owner's permission -- that
>would be fine. And you would need to write your explanations as clearly and
>simply as is appropriate to the content you are providing. But that is not
>the same as Gravity's Rainbow, and your explanation, no matter how hard you
>tried, would never BE Gravity's Rainbow.
>We live in a society where everything is being reduced to commerce, to a
>commodity. Many people can no longer distinguish between art and commerce.
>They think that art IS commerce. It's very sad.
>Commerce should be comprehensible to everyone. Art should be art.
> >
> > 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
> > >be?
> >
> > Excuse me, but I think this is the point many have been making for a long
> > time, that by adding accessibility to web pages it increases the audience
> > beyond what they initially presumed. My intended audience for my
> > web pages
> > is the 45-8 year olds who use my lab. Why should I worry about making the
> > pages "accessible" in any feature or fashion that is not needed
> > by my kids?
> > The ONLY reason is because I "may" have a wider audience in parent and
> > taxpayers who are curious what the kids are doing in school. Why should I
> > bother to include text links with the site map if all of my
> > intended users
> > are sighted? Why should I include keywords that could lead other
> > educators
> > to my site, if they are of no benefit to my intended audience?
>First, making web pages accessible does not increase the audience, it
>increases the *potential* audience. If no-one in your audience needed those
>features, then they had no effect.
>Accessibility is not in the code or the content. A site is accessible when
>everyone who has a legitimate need to use it can do so. If one legitimate
>user is locked out, then the site is not fully accessible. If I do a site in
>backwards Flemish, and every member of my audience can read and understand
>backwards Flemish, then my site is accessible.
>A site intended for the general public must be accessible to *anyone* who is
>a member of that public. The King County web site needs to be accessible
>(and comprehensible) to everyone in King County. It does not need to be
>accessible to the citizens of Uganda.
>The IRS site needs to be accessible to every American. A site that sells ski
>equipment should be accessible to everyone who might want to purchase ski
>If Thomas Pynchon publishes Gravity's Rainbow on-line following the
>guidelines but without explanation or illustration, then it is accessible.
>Art does not require explanation or illustration. But if he adds a page to
>sell copies of the book, then he is engaging in commerce and that page must
>be accessible/comprehensible to every potential purchaser of the book.
>This is a vitally important distinction, and, IMO, the source of a great
>many misunderstandings in this group and on the IG list.
>Chas. Munat

Anne Pemberton

Received on Saturday, 18 August 2001 18:40:44 UTC

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