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RE: Examples of language changes in websites

From: Jens Meiert <jens.meiert@erde3.com>
Date: Thu, 4 Dec 2003 12:12:44 +0100 (MET)
To: "Yvette P. Hoitink" <y.p.hoitink@heritas.nl>
Cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Message-ID: <27763.1070536364@www28.gmx.net>

> [...] Specifically, we were talking about the need to identify the
> including language changes, since not doing so could lead to serious 
> accessibility problems.

Well, can language really cause accessibility problems (more important: when
does it not)? First of all, each language vocabulary differs from another,
second, even every person uses another vocabulary than the other. But to
diagnose accessibility problems, you need a clear definition of each language
vocabulary by defining a standard set of words and terms each native speaker
-must- control (can anybody really say what all fellow countrymen understand?).

Assuming that there is such a virtual standard set for each language, you at
first had to decrease the maximum (native) vocabulary about maybe 98%
whereby having set a minimum age for this set to about 10 years. You also pass on
every non-native term to ensure that you can offer that accessibility you
want. -- What I exaggeratedly show here is that you IMO try to find a way to an
ill-defined goal.

Due to this ill-defined goal, there is no chance for either recommending or
banning or judging anything, neither for you nor the WAI WG. Me, I perceive
the WAI as an initiative suggesting how you've got fewest problems in reaching
your audience, although I understand your feel of maybe powerlessness when
noticing a language soup everywhere, but this is normal and (again)
self-regulating, and it also supports everyone's ability to -increase- his vocabulary
(what a beautiful impact).

> [...] Making a page such as the LogicaCMG one
> accessible would require, in my opinion, that each English phrases is
> identified as such.

Why? Making clear that 'email' is English, or 'Nachricht' ist German? Does
it make sense? -- How? Visually highlighting it to irritate users once more
when visiting an almost colored site? Semantically pronouncing it to complicate
author's work and to allow the desired effect deflagrate?

> My task as I saw it was to come up with examples where language changes
> would lead to accessibility problems. [...]

Did you really prove that there are accessibility problems or did you merely
prove that international companies use a mix of languages? -- I think that
there are rather -guessed- problems than real problems, or did you test these
interfaces? Ain't most users also affected by the mix in e.g. advertising,
when most of all larger companies use English slogans, everywhere you look? Do
you want to intervene only related to the Web, or do you want to start a
campaign to free the world from all these guessed problems?

-- Well, maybe I'm wrong, but there are so many issues I see in this case
that they are hard to ignore. Finally, I recommend to pass on every influence
related to language use except when you use e.g. hyperlinks to sources in
another language or include cites on your site written in another language (and
there already are solutions for these de facto accessibility -- or usability
-- problems).

Best regards,

Jens Meiert
Interface Architect

Received on Thursday, 4 December 2003 06:12:45 UTC

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