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RE: rationalize presentation [was: Use consistent presentation]

From: Geoff Deering <gdeering@acslink.net.au>
Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2002 15:31:28 +1100
To: "Kynn Bartlett" <kynn-edapta@idyllmtn.com>, "Charles McCathieNevile" <charles@w3.org>
Cc: <kynn-eda@idyllmtn.com>, "Slaydon Eugenia" <ESlaydon@beacontec.com>, <gian@stanleymilford.com.au>, <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <NBBBJPNFCLNLAADCLFJBIEICDEAA.gdeering@acslink.net.au>
I am really trying to interpret and understand these guidelines, because it
has been my job to do so in both university and corporate web development
environments.  I'm not trying to be WAI police or anything, just trying to
understand what is meant by the various checkpoints.  So I would really
appreciate being corrected here, as to my misunderstandings.

Before the guidelines came out in May99 I used to go by the general
information on accessibility like the quick tips, etc.  But when the
guidelines came out, I went "Whooa".  Priority one seemed no worries, you
could basically fix or adapt most designs and make them accessible, and this
still stands.

And the way I understand it, you need to meet all the checkpoints to comply
with a priority.  At that stage there were statements coming out saying that
AA was what one should really strive for to be REALLY classes as accessible.
I haven't seen such statement recently.

I am not arguing that using images is not okay.  That seems fine if you want
to claim just A.  But anything more requires a much more careful and
methodical approach, one that most of us found required a COMPLETE
retraining of ourselves as web developers, I know I did.

I feel that to put either AA or AAA on a web site requires a completely new
approach to web development.

My interpretation of Priority 2 checkpoints is;  If you combine the logic of
all the checkpoints in P2, to me that says separate the display logic into
style sheets (3.3), don't use anything that can be done in CSS with images
(3.1), so on and so on.  With the way P2 is laid out I cannot accept that if
you use images for text, you can claim AA (except logos, which are a visual
marker).  Sure it still meets accessibility under A, but not AA, or AAA.
There are so many sites out there with AA and AAA on them, that seem to me
to just be A.

If this is not the case, there really needs to be more clear definitions,
because it seems we are all suffering from a grey area.  I just want to
understand the guidelines correctly.  I know there are many ways of doing
things, and you can present things in all sorts of ways and still make them
accessible, but, to me, there are clear distinctions between A and AA.  I'd
like some real clarification if there is any.

It seems to me to that WCAG2 is implicitly stating this too.  The way I read
checkpoints 1 & 4, that's what they seem to be saying; you do everything to
focus on user control.  So again, if there is a huge grey area in what they
are communicating and representing, there needs to be a greater effort put
into clarifying them so that genuine people trying to understand WAI can be
given documents that are clear and unambiguous.

Now, if I have not interpreted these guidelines correctly, I would really
like someone to help me out and clarify these issues, because, otherwise I
have been giving the wrong consulting advice.

I used to frequent the WAI mailing lists in the late 90's, but have only had
time to return recently.

Geoff Deering

-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org]On Behalf
Of Kynn Bartlett
Sent: Monday, 21 January 2002 12:50 PM
To: Charles McCathieNevile; Geoff Deering
Cc: kynn-eda@idyllmtn.com; Slaydon Eugenia; gian@stanleymilford.com.au;
Subject: RE: rationalize presentation [was: Use consistent presentation]

At 3:17 PM -0500 1/20/02, Charles McCathieNevile wrote:
>Having pictures of the text and the real text should meet the requirement
>(having pictures and alt text does not) but technically fails the
>and in my very personal opinion is ugly enough to be worth avoiding...

Right, which is why it's a broken checkpoint.

One thing we have to be careful of is that there are several types
of "guidelines" which we may accidentally conflate together:

* Those based on pure access to information
* Those based on usability concerns
* Those based on "style"

Access to information:  If I have a web site which has a navigation
bar as images, and I provide alt text for those images, and I provide
a redundant set of text links at the bottom (remember, this is a
checkpoint for certain image maps under WCAG1, so the technique is
clearly not flawed), then I am ensuring actual access to information.

Usability:  If I can find that information EASILY, it's not a usability
problem; if I can't, it probably is. For example, "text-only version"
link at the BOTTOM of the page is worse usability than one at the
top.  Sure, you can find the info, but good luck trying.

Style:  Some things are just tacky. Saying "click here for more on
Senator Wilson" is not an accessibility problem, nor is it a usability
problem.  It just doesn't look right.

Our checkpoints so far have willy-nilly combined pure access,
usability, and style in a way that leads to confusion and mis-
interpretation.  Also note that usability for one audience may be
accessibility or style for another.

In this case, I think pictures of text and real text, while it does
fail the (in-need-of-revision) checkpoint test, do pass the
access to information test.  There is no usability test for this
encoded in the guidelines (and in fact the Guidelines suggest
"text" and "pictures" for imagemaps), although the usability here
may be poor.  Stylistic demands, I think, are not our main priority
here, are they?


Kynn Bartlett <kynn@idyllmtn.com>                 http://kynn.com
Chief Technologist, Idyll Mountain            http://idyllmtn.com
Web Accessibility Expert-for-hire          http://kynn.com/resume
January Web Accessibility eCourse           http://kynn.com/+d201
Forthcoming: Teach Yourself CSS in 24 Hours
Received on Monday, 21 January 2002 01:35:50 UTC

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