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RE: Contracted words in Hebrew

From: Joe Clark <joeclark@joeclark.org>
Date: Thu, 27 May 2004 09:32:27 -0500 (CDT)
To: WAI-GL <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.44.0405101816020.22456-100000@socrates.scdns.net>

Our esteemed colleague is engaging in the habits, exhibited by
Participants in Good Standing and Approved Persons, of ignoring persuasive
contrary evidence and reiterating the original falsehoods (as we saw in

> What we essentially want, I think, is that every word in the
> document be unambiguously identifiable so that it can be looked up in
> a dictionary, pronounced by a text to speech system, or otherwise
> processed.

That simply *is not* a characteristic of written languages. English and
Hebrew (the two languages most discussed in this thread) have many
homographic or polysemic words that must be understood in their proper
context and meaning by the human reader. That is the way the languages
work; reading requires audience participation. That was true before WCAG
1.0 was ratified, it's true now, and it will be true long after everyone
participating in this thread is dead.

And it's *not an accessibility problem* for authors. Every attempt by the 
Working Group to clarify the intention merely restates the same 
requirement: Write Hebrew with nikud and make every ambiguous English word 
unambiguous. That horse won't hunt.

If your screen reader stumbles on English homographs or Hebrew words, get 
a better screen reader. If you're dyslexic and have trouble reading 
homographs or Hebrew, lean on your adaptive technology, not the author. If 
you have trouble with *genuine* abbreviations and acronyms, expect the 
author *and* the adaptive technology to share the burden. But that example 
is qualitatively different.

It is a much simpler task for adaptive-technology makers to improve their 
exception dictionaries and other lexicons than to force *every author in 
the world who wants to meet WCAG* to write in a way found nowhere else at 

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group has no authority to
force authors to write in some Bizarro-world manner in which no word is
ambiguous. Words are sometimes ambiguous; accept it. The Working Group
continues to show magnificent stubbornness and ignorance in dealing with
this question. *It's a non-starter* (hear this well, Gregg).

*We don't have to endlessly debate stupid ideas*, particularly when the
Working Group simply ignores contravening facts. You'll chatter along all
day about something without a basis in fact, but when someone-- like me--
points to clear and unambiguous data, you ignore it.

Gregg makes this request: "[T]he best way to comment is to make a
suggestion for how to address the issue that the item was focused at." The
way to address the issue in question is to be grown-up enough to admit its
proponents were wrong in the first place and *it isn't an issue*.


    Joe Clark | joeclark@joeclark.org
    Accessibility <http://joeclark.org/access/>
    Expect criticism if you top-post
Received on Thursday, 27 May 2004 10:32:33 UTC

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