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Re: 4.1 and satire

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 7 Jun 2002 15:41:11 -0400 (EDT)
To: john_slatin <john_slatin@forum.utexas.edu>
cc: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.30.0206071535060.8060-100000@tux.w3.org>

No, I don't think it is possible to make that particular piece of satire
accessible. In general I think satire is a very difficult thing to make
accessible, and I don't believe that many people intend it to be generally
so. I have noted a particular problem with this in the United States, where
there is very little use of satire and sarcasm in humour at a personal level.

I also don't think that Blue Poles - once the most expensive painting in the
world, purchased by the Australian government, is particularly accessible.

I don't think either of these things is a relevant problem - there are things
that need to be accessible for everyone (bus timetables, government policy
documents, shopping, and there are things that are exempted in certain places
from even the legal and moral obligation - in the US anything that is too
expensive is exempted, in Australia certain organisations have the right to
claim an exemption on that basis. In some places art is exempt. In other
places art is subject to additional rules about what may or may not be

The intent of satire is to create ambiguity. That iss something that will
cause a known accessibility problem. So to make an accessible exlanation of
the problems of feeding the irish people, satire isn't the form that will
reach everyone. (A dual version, marked much as Lisa has been proposing, and
giving the straight story, would...)



On Fri, 7 Jun 2002, john_slatin wrote:

  Is it possible for satire to satisfy 4.1?

  In 1720 or so, the Irish writer Jonathan Swift published "A Modest
  Proposal."   This text appeared to be addressed to the English Parliament.
  If offered
  what appeared to be a straightforward, sober proosal for solving the
  problems of poverty and hunger in Ireland.  The proposal was that Irish
  children should
  be bred and sold for food.  Swift presented all sorts of seemingly rational
  arguments in favor of this idea.

  Publication of this "Modest Proposal" raised a storm of controversy.  Not

  This was exactly what Swift had intended: he also knew that at least some of
  his readers would recognize his text for what it was: an angry, satiric
  on Parliament and the Crown over England's treatment of Ireland, which was
  appalling even back then.  But he also knew that many people would not
  the satire, and that too was in some way part of his satiric point.  That
  is, anyone who took his text at "face value" and attempted to debate the
  on its "merits" immediately became a savage fool, by virtue of the failure
  to recognize the satire.

  This text is often discussed in English lit classes as one of the great
  examples of satire.  There's nothing in it, except the sheer outrageousness
  of the
  proposed "solution" itself, to mark Swift's language as ironic or his intent
  as satiric.

  In fact, the very definition of irony involves statements that mean the
  opposite of what they say.

  Would it be possible to make a conformance claim for this text under any
  variant of 4.1 we've been discussing?

  John Slatin, Ph.D.
  Director, Institute for Technology & Learning
  University of Texas at Austin
  FAC 248C, Mail code G9600
  Austin, TX 78712
  ph 512-495-4288, f 512-495-4524
  email jslatin@mail.utexas.edu <mailto:jslatin@mail.utexas.edu>
  web http://www.ital.utexas.edu <http://www.ital.utexas.edu>

Charles McCathieNevile    http://www.w3.org/People/Charles  phone: +61 409 134 136
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative     http://www.w3.org/WAI  fax: +33 4 92 38 78 22
Location: 21 Mitchell street FOOTSCRAY Vic 3011, Australia
(or W3C INRIA, Route des Lucioles, BP 93, 06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France)
Received on Friday, 7 June 2002 15:41:13 UTC

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