W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-gl@w3.org > January to March 2002

RE: checkpoint 3.1 RE: rationalize presentation

From: Geoff Deering <gdeering@acslink.net.au>
Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2002 06:46:14 +1100
To: <kynn-eda@idyllmtn.com>
Cc: "Kynn Bartlett" <kynn-edapta@idyllmtn.com>, "Charles McCathieNevile" <charles@w3.org>, "WAI GL" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <NBBBJPNFCLNLAADCLFJBMELADEAA.gdeering@acslink.net.au>
The gist of the point I am making is that, besides the issue of
accessibility, there is a whole realm of good business reasoning to
following the principles of these guidelines, and I feel those benefits
increase, the more passionately these guidelines and principles are adopted.

I am not talking about laying down the guidelines as The One And Only Law;
but rather as a concise set of guidelines, that also show that this WG is
not only addressing the issue of accessibility, but convey the concern that
it also addresses much wider business benefits as well.  The guidelines
enhance better usability principles and better and smarter business
practices, and better ROI.

I am also not saying; ban images, or images are wrong, or anything like
that.  One can follow the guidelines loosely or strictly (as in the DTDs)
and still meet high degrees of accessibility.  That is not the point I was
making in all this discussion.  What I am saying though is, in places I have
worked, I have had to work to requirement documents and specs, and everyone
one of those was taken literarily.  If the WCAG1 Guidelines are the specs,
and they require AA conformance, those guidelines and their application are
taken literarily, because there is a comeback if they are not interpreted
literally.  Generally, I feel a great deal of gratitude and appreciation to
the people who have provided such GL, because I regard them as insightful,
knowledgeable, skilful and liberating, rather than restricting.  (That is
another thing; you can embrace a discipline wholeheartedly and be liberated
by it).  Now again, I am not saying everyone needs to see it this way,
obviously they don't, and that contributes to the process too, that is not
the point I am making.  But I do feel it is disheartening to see (what I see
as) loose adoptions of the guidelines on sites with AA and AAA logos.

It's also interesting to note just how many sites that have AA or AAA on
them do not comply with WCAG 3.2

I do agree that there may be more expense in the build phase when trying to
achieve AAA compliance.  But when it applies to large sites managed by
content management systems, the savings are immense.

> I would argue that if an experienced and knowledgeable consultant or
> developer, in 2002, is still using images where text/HTML/CSS are now a
> valid alternative, they are adding costs to the design and running of
> client or employer's site, as well as the additional cost of maintenance.

This is not an argument based on accessibility, though.  Our mandate is
not to create guidelines which provide for The One True Way To Do Web
Design, our mandate is to provide advice on how to make content accessible.

If someone wants to add costs to the design of their site, that's not our
place to come in and say it's banned.  Likewise, designing for accessibility
often adds to the cost of designing, running, and maintaining a site, so
clearly this argument is not one that should hold weight within our

> If you use images to represent text;
> * They do not scale (re: Jim Ley's comments 17th Jan)

If you use images at all, they do not scale, comments about SVG aside.
(And SVG can't be used for all applications.)

The solution is not to say "never use images" no more than the solution
is to say "never use images as text."

> * They only look good at certain resolutions, try looking at graphic
> navigation text designed for 800 x 600 in 17-21 inch monitors at upwards
> 1280-1024 and it start to become ugly and unusable.

I'm confused, is "ugly" suddenly part of accessibility as well?  Is it
our place to write guidelines based on aesthetical appeal?  There is also
a strong argument to be made that it makes more sense to "look good" to
99% of the audience and "look ugly" to 1%, as long as the content is
still reachable in some manner.

Note that pure CSS designs "look ugly" in default rendering on Netscape
3, but our argument has always been "that doesn't matter, the content is
accessible."  If we are going to ban "images as text" then we should ban

> * Don't print as well as text (as mentioned by Bruce Bailey)

This again isn't an accessibility problem, except through the most
contrived of arguments.  This is an argument about the aesthetics of
printed images.  But so what?  Is there going to be a rule saying that
I can't have an ugly page, next?

See, the whole problem here boils down to the "banning", in my opinion.
The guideline doesn't say, "if you decide, for whatever reason, to use
these, then here's how to ensure you don't lock out people" -- it says
simply "you can't use those, period."  Arguments saying "there are good
reasons not to use this" are fine and good, but they don't justify
outright banning, if there are legitimate ways to use these types of
things while still ensuring accessibility.

This kind of thinking is a step back to 1996 style web accessibility,
when the message seemed to be "don't use images, they're evil" and
"don't use multimedia, it's evil."  The message for 2002 has to be,
"here's how to make something accessible."  You wouldn't say, "don't
put an audio recording on a web site, there's maintenance problems
nd it's ugly," you'd say "go ahead and put up the audio recording,
but make the content available in text as well."

Received on Wednesday, 23 January 2002 14:46:34 UTC

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