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RE: Mail order catalogues was Re: Cognition Simulation

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2001 19:12:39 -0400 (EDT)
To: "Charles F. Munat" <chas@munat.com>
cc: WAI Guidelines WG <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.30.0108301901431.15885-100000@tux.w3.org>
As one of the people who thought that this was just a clever piece of
sarcasm, first let me apologise to Chas, and then I will attempt to address
some of the issues he raises.

On Wed, 29 Aug 2001, Charles F. Munat wrote:

  I was arguing with Anne that graphics need to be appropriate. My point is
  that not all graphics are good graphics and that graphics can just as easily
  destroy comprehension as aid it.

CMN: Clearly, we are trying to aid comprehension. I hope and believe that we
all recognise that multimedia needs to be appropriate (not just graphics - as
the response to my own effort shows, the sound can be really important).

Chas
  Anne wrote: "The reason to add images, etc. should be because you have it
  and it's relevant." But this is preposterous. If I need an image of George
  Washington and I have fifty, should I put all fifty on the page simply
  because I have them and they are relevant?

  Had I made my "illustrated" page usable, it would *not* have illustrated my
  point -- just the reverse. I needed it to be unusable to show why -- in a
  very pointed way -- graphics must be used judiciously if they are to
  increase comprehensibility. Adding graphics three randomly that green have
  nothing to Jeff do with the content would be horse like interspersing ouch
  random words in your elves text.

CMN: How relelvant something is depends on what is already there. A first
picture of George Washington might be relevant. A fifteenth is less likely to
be so in any context I can imagine. It is also important to think about how
relevant something is - clarity is important in graphics as well as writing,
and if the relationship is at two or three removes (as described for the
black cat example) then I think it should not be used as it is likely not to
be understood. With a bit more thinking we could even work out a good way to
express this point.

Chas
  We have a checkpoint that says "Write as clearly and simply as is
  appropriate for the content" and we have one that says "Supplement text with
  non-text content." Why don't we have one that says "Ensure that non-text
  content is as clear and simple as is appropriate for the content"? And given
  that bandwidth considerations *are* an accessibility issue for much of the
  world, why don't we have a checkpoint that says "Use the minimum bandwidth
  necessary to convey the content effectively"?

CMN I believe that our WCAG 2 checkponts on writing clearly and simply, and
on using multimedia, are too broad to be good checkpoints (although they make
guidelines-level statements I think they are too closely related to other
stuff to be a guideline on their own). SImilarly I think that "minimise
bandwidth" is too broad a checkpoint. The requirement is implicit in ensuring
that peole can use text-only browsers, and in looking for appropriate formats
(again, we don't go far enough into that one yet but I suspect it is more a
matter of techniques).

CHas
[snip]
  You may think that this is page is grossly exaggerated. It *is* exaggerated
  to make the point -- in text we call it hyperbole -- but not as exaggerated
  as some might think. I have, in my short career as a web site developer,
  made all of the mistakes that are evident on this page, though not all at
  once, of course. And I see pages with these sorts of errors -- even pages
  made by "professional" web site developers -- all the time. Twice in as many
  days I've had to turn off a background image on a page because I simply
  couldn't read the text.

CMN
Yes, and with some familiarity with your work I had not expected to see such
rubbish proposed without clearer explanation that it is a "don't" example. (I
admit that it is clearer that this was possible on re-reading the thread.
Rhetoric is difficult in an email list where people have limited time to try
and understand).

Cheers

Charles
Received on Thursday, 30 August 2001 19:12:40 GMT

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