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Re: 4.1 and satire

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Sat, 08 Jun 2002 11:34:01 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org

At 08:19 AM 2002-06-08, jonathan chetwynd wrote:
>Accessibility of art is an issue to be confronted, not dismissed lightly.

Hey, Jonathan, Charles:  You're in flaming agreement.  What is the proposal for 4.1 that relates to John Slatin's question?

Here's a stab:

Answer to John's question:

Yes, satire can be compliant, particularly when backed with structured metadata such as Lisa has been experimenting with, which provides a pedestrian, semantic-pragmantic-friendly exegesis of the web of conflicts evoked by the baseline satirical development of the material.

We don't exactly know the right protocol for exposing this Cliff Notes layer, but there are hints in the results of negotiating with SMIL.  So the right answer lies somewhere in the range of a) it should be an ask-for or pull feature [as regards how it is encoded in the persistent record at the server that serves multiple user sessions].  Not exposed by default.  It's not so clear b) how hard one should have to pull, and how equal the access should be.  In educational settings we are still wrestling with the issues of "is it fair for the un-qualified student to get this layer exposed only after the quiz, while it is turned on by default for the certified semantic-pragmatic student?"  Compare with talking books and copyright.

Instead of arguing whether our standard should be literal rhetoric or figurative rhetoric, we should be stepping back and recognizing that people with disabilities come with diverse needs in this respect.  Within the very vague label of "learning disabilities" there are conditions which lead people both to a) find figurative associations un-usable and rely on the literal meaning of language and also to b) find prolix, literal exposition unusable, and rely heavily on the figurative 'handle' that they can extract from the multimedia show and tell that is presented.  On a scale of literal to figurative as regards expository language, there is no universal ideal where it comes to the diverse population of people with disabilities, even just those with learning disabilities.

Unrolling an exposition in highly literal baby-steps is clearest for some.  Animated elevator speeches with succinct, pungent allusion is clearest for others.  We face a diversity of preference and these preferences _in all their diversity_ reach the level of critical need among different members of the group "people with learning disabilities."

As far as implementing 4.1, there are plenty of precedents from the art of expository writing. The following is from a communication I happened to have with an English teacher about the pattern she requires her students to learn for writing *a thesis paragraph*.  The same rhythm appears in the whole development that the thesis paragraph starts.

- hook: frames topic in a way that makes it clear the reader cares
- bridge: eases the transition from question to answer by abstracting the development of the answer.
- thesis: succinct statement of what you want the reader to leave believing about this topic 

Implied here is a definition

body: provides ample evidence for why the reader should agree with the thesis as regards the topic set out in the hook.

The opening paragraph of a section [BCP] only depends on what the reader brings.  If a more clearly focused summary is possible by using new concepts developed in the body of the section, make this the summary on exit.  Math texts can be written in hierarchical summary/body, as opposed to intro/body/summary form, with a summary containing embedded TBDs because people working at advanced levels in math have developed term-stack skills where they carry the questions as to what those terms mean into their reading of the body.  These readers know to read summary/body/summary.  But the man in the street doesn't talk this way.

So in practical terms I would advocate that figurative language is especially good in the bait, the opening line that needs to convince the reader that they wish to read on.  One only has to do a field statistical study of the figuration level (figurativeness) in headlines vs stories in the media to show this is the conventional wisdom of the current time.

The overall prescription is a both-and.  Illustration is not just pictures; it includes allusions to affective plotlines.  Effective writing has to both convince the reader that they care and agree, and also to allow them to reach your conclusions themselves by an independent assesment of evidence.  There is also multi-level summarization and abstraction in well-developed material.  The quick tour will rely more on figurative language and the long tour will rely less on figurative language, or at least that is the conventional wisdom.  Booch with independent part-whole and generic-specific lattices is the coordinate frame for this, and summarization-and-elaboration-function-deployment in both axes is the answer.  Summarization and explication has to be well marbled through the Booch graph of the exposition.


>Please think again Charles*, you're mind may be clouded by what is apparently do-able, and the needs of endless mindless beauracrats.
>Ancient truths are ancient because they are great if not immutable, unlike timetables.
>Incest, Patricide, Abuse are topics of our time and theirs, ones which "need to be understood in approximately the same way by a large group of people"
>Please take the time to view: http://www.respond.org.uk/help/index.html
>which is a valuable contribution, using a variety of materials efficiently, to discuss a difficult issue, effectively.
>Accessibility of art is an issue to be confronted, not dismissed lightly.
>Charles wrote:
>I didn't suggest that art is less important than a bus timetable. Just that
>bus timetables need to be understood in approximately the same way by a large
>group of people. 
Received on Saturday, 8 June 2002 11:34:05 UTC

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