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RE: Mail order catalogues was Re: Cognition Simulation

From: Charles F. Munat <chas@munat.com>
Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2001 20:44:02 -0700
To: "WAI Guidelines WG" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <LHEGJAOEDCOFFBGFAPKBCELMCJAA.chas@munat.com>

Anne:
> add illustrations to text to aid comprehension.

Chas:
Excellent. I'm glad we have that clear. Illustrations should be added *to
aid comprehension*. Thus any illustration that fails to aid (or hurts)
comprehension is not covered by these guidelines. We are only recommending
illustrations that increase the comprehensibility of a page.

That said, I don't think you want the word "illustrations." I can illustrate
a concept with text as easily (more, really) as with an image. The reason we
are recommending images is to illustrate the content. Illustrate = verb.
Make it into a noun and you've made it ambiguous.

Anne:
> Depends on the purpose of the site. If it is *the* comprehensive page on
> ole George, then if you have fifty pictures, you need to put all
> or most of the fifty pictures on the site.

Chas:
You seem to be confusing comprehensive and comprehensible. As you've used it
above, comprehensive means "dealing with all or many of the relevant
details." Comprehensible means "that can be comprehended; intelligible."

It is our goal to make pages comprehensible. This has nothing to do with
making them comprehensive. The number of graphics or amount of text has no
direct bearing on comprehensibility, but may have a bearing on
comprehensiveness. A comprehensive page/site will certainly be bigger than a
less comprehensive page/site. But a comprehensible page is as likely if not
more likely to be shorter and smaller than a less comprehensible page.

Just as verbose text is usually difficult to comprehend, pages cluttered
with graphics can be equally so. If we are truly interested in maximizing
the comprehensibility of Web pages, we must ensure that non-text content
follows the same rules as text content: clear and simple.

The comprehensiveness of a page is none of our business.

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"?

Anne:
> That sounds like a good technique to go with the checkpoint.

Chas:
Glad you approve, but why a technique? For text, it is checkpoint level. Why
should it be any less than checkpoint level for non-text content?

Anne: [regarding minimizing bandwidth]
> This is one of those issues that seems obvious, is hinted at in some
> checkpoint details, but I've never seen it proposed as a checkpoint.

Chas:
But is it obvious? Isn't it obvious that graphics can be used to enhance
comprehensibility? Isn't it obvious that some people cannot access a page at
all if there are no graphics on it? Clearly, you didn't think so, because
you have agitated for a checkpoint to ensure that graphics are used. You
weren't willing to rely on the obviousness of things. So why not a
checkpoint to ensure that bandwidth is used wisely and carefully? As for
never having seen it proposed, what did you think I just did?

Anne:
> But,
> what would you tell the AFB about all that bandwidth they are using to
> share Helen's life with the world, or the Library of Congress not
> to share the publicly paid for photographs and art work that tell the
> history of our nation?

I would ask them to make every kilobyte of bandwidth count. They should take
their images to be drum scanned, and then provide them in multiple formats
and sizes. A page with small thumbnails can link to a larger, but still
reasonable, image. From there they can link to all the various versions of
the photo.

On the rest of the site, the images should be used only when they are
necessary to illustrate the content. Since there will most likely be more
content than it's possible to illustrate, the authors will have to decide
where their stress is for a given page. For example, if a page deals with
*use* of device X, then a photo of device X might be included. But a photo
of device Y (a previous version of device X) does not belong here. It belong
s on a page having to do with the *development* or history of device X.

It might also be possible to provide low and high bandwidth versions of an
image, with the low bandwidth the default. Then those who have the time to
wait (or a very fast connection) can view the higher resolution image, but
the information is still there for everyone. This is another form of
multiple modes of access, but it needs to be made explicit and normative.

Anne:
> Then make a page about flowers and move the rose there .... I do
> that quite
> often with my pages .... get to building something and discover I've got
> more content than that section needs, and another section gets started ...

Chas:
In other words, you do exactly what I am recommending: use non-text content
judiciously.

Anne:
> Nope, you page doesn't upset much in the guidelines, especially since you
> avoided using the music as background and put that link on the page. You
> were not as outrageous as you could have been! <grin>

Chas:
That was the point, Anne. It meets the guidelines, but the images hurt
rather than helping comprehensibility, and had I spent more time on it, I
might have made it enormously slow to download, too.

Anne:
> It is not the purpose of the guidelines to avoid the learning lessons of
> those new to the field.

Chas:
Oh, but it *is*. The whole point of the guidelines is to explain to people
what they need to do to make their Web sites accessible -- *without* them
having to learn it the hard way, the way most of us did. Since the proper
use of content -- text or non-text -- is an accessibility issue, it belongs
in our document.

Chas. Munat
Received on Thursday, 30 August 2001 23:41:40 GMT

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