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Re: CleverKeys, dictionary.com and "programmatically located"

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>
Date: Fri, 19 Mar 2004 21:07:39 +1100
Message-ID: <16474.50795.727480.990204@jdc.local>
To: Wendy A Chisholm <wendy@w3.org>
Cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org, y.p.hoitink@heritas.nl, nabe@lab.twcu.ac.jp, seeman@netvision.net.il, shadi@w3.org, charles@w3.org

Wendy A Chisholm writes:
 > 
 > There are several questions in this email. Please respond in-line to each 
 > question or group of questions.
 > 
 > 1st Success Criterion to test: Level 1, #2  - "The meaning of abbreviations 
 > and acronyms can be programmatically located."
 > 
 > Test 1: go to the W3C [1], highlight the second instance of "W3C" in the 
 > first paragraph, press control+L to activate CleverKeys.
 > [1] <http://www.w3.org/>
 > 
 > Result 1: It lists the correct expansion of W3C 
 > <http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=%20W3C%20>
 > 
 > Question: Does this satisfy the success criterion?  If so, is it a user 
 > agent feature instead of an author responsibility?  If not, what more does 
 > the author need to do?  If it satisfies the criterion, do we need the 
 > criterion?  If we keep the criterion, is user agent support a sufficient 
 > technique?

Another issue to consider here is that support for this is not
required in UAAG; UAAG draws its requirements primarily from WCAG.
This implies that we need the success criterion, otherwise there is
nothing for future versions of UAAG or similar guidelines to refer to,
unless they change their relationship with WCAG.

Perhaps the question could be asked as follows:

If there is a Web service (in this case a dictionary) that can
reliably retrieve the information then does this meet the success
criterion? My personal reaction (only an individual opinion and not to
be taken as foreclosing further discussion) is to say that the
availability of a Web service should definitely suffice for level 1
and possibly for level 2 also.

 > 
 > Test 2: go to the W3C [1], right-click on the second instance of "W3C" in 
 > the first paragraph,  select "dictionary" from the pop-up menu.
 > 
 > Result 2: It does not list the correct expansion of W3C
 > <http://www.infoplease.lycos.com/search.php3?in=dictionary&query=W3C>
 > 
 > Question: Does this fail the success criterion?  If it fails, is it a 
 > failure of the user agent or of the author?  If the author, what should the 
 > author do?

There still exists at least one freely and publicly available Web
service that would give the correct expansion, so I don't think the
content fails the criterion unless we decide that the availability of
a Web service, combined with suitable user agent support, isn't
enough. In this case, however, the user agent implementation doesn't
give the correct results.

 > 
 > 
 > 2nd Success Criterion to test:  Level 2, #2 - The meanings and 
 > pronunciations of all words in the content can be programmatically located
 > 
 > Test 3: go to the W3C [1], highlight "specifications" in the first 
 > paragraph, press control+L to activate CleverKeys.
 > 
 > Result 3: It finds a definition for "specifications" - 
 > <http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=specifications>
 > 
 > Question: Does this satisfy the success criterion?  If so, is it a user 
 > agent feature instead of an author responsibility?  If not, what more does 
 > the author need to do?

Another question: does the pronunciation information have to be
machine-processable? If the objective here is that speech synthesis
software should be able to use it, then presumably it has to be in IPA
(the International Phonetic Alphabet) or similar encoding.

 > 
 > 
 > 3rd Success Criterion to test: Level 2, #3 - The meaning of all idioms in 
 > the content can be programmatically determined.
 > 
 > Test #4: go to ESL idiom page [2], highlight "beat around the bush," press 
 > control+L to activate CleverKeys.
 > [2] <http://www.eslcafe.com/idioms/id-list.html>
 > 
 > Result #4:  It displays the result for "beat."  In the results is a list of 
 > idioms that contain the word "beat" - including "beat around/about the bush 
 > - To fail to confront a subject directly."
 > <http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=beat%20around%20the%20bush>
 > 
 > Question: Does this satisfy the success criterion?  If so, is it a user 
 > agent feature instead of an author responsibility?  If not, what more does 
 > the author need to do - link directly to the definition of "beat around the 
 > bush" instead of the general "beat?"

"Can be programmatically determined" could be read as meaning
something akin to "can be interpreted by a computer"; but no computer
can, at present or in the foreseeable future, understand language, so
this would seem impossible to satisfy.

Nevertheless, one could specify that a dictionary definition must be
automatically retrievable. There might also be metadata or other
information that categorizes words or identifies idiomatic expressions
or whatever, to help what have sometimes been called cognitive
assistive technologies, use of which should count as meeting the criterion.

 > 
 > 4th Success Criterion to test: Level 3, #1 - The meaning of contracted 
 > words can be programmatically determined.
 > 
 > Test #5: go to cybernothing [3], highlight the word "can't," press 
 > control+L to activate CleverKeys.
 > [3] <http://www.cybernothing.org/>
 > 
 > Result #5: The results begin with "cant" and further in the list is "can't 
 > - Contraction of cannot."  <http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=can%27t>
 > 
 > Question: Does this satisfy the success criterion?  If so, is it a user 
 > agent feature instead of an author responsibility?  If not, what more does 
 > the author need to do - link directly to the definition of "can't?"

Same as above regarding existence of a Web service that reliably
obtains the information, a requirement that appears to be met here
unless what is needed is for the computer to be able to associate the
contracted word with its expansion, rather than just to present a list.
 > 
 > Language questions:
 > 1. Are there similar tools and dictionaries that are freely available in 
 > other languages?

Yes, but I expect there will be languages for which no such tools
exist. There are at least 5000 languages in use today, many of which
are endangered. These include many indigenous languages for which
there may not be good dictionaries in any form, let alone online.

 > 4. If automatic lookup of words works for some languages and not others, 
 > how do we create guidelines that will apply across languages?

Automatic lookup should work across languages; it is just more
difficult in some languages. Of course, finding the single definition
that matches often requires human understanding.

 > 5. If the tools are possible, but not available today, do we write "lowest 
 > common denominator" guidelines that apply across all languages, or do we 
 > have different guidelines depending on tools available today?

Or do we introduce a qualification which says, in effect, where the
tools exist for the language/languages of the content, use them;
otherwise the success criteria are not applicable and the content
should be treated as having passed? If we say this, then does the
content become non-conformant when the tools arrive?

 > 6. Is user agent support a sufficient technique?

Yes. After all, we don't insist on "self-voicing" Web sites, etc.

Other techniques include:

Using features of a markup language to provide the information, for
example ABBR/ACRONYM in XHTML.

Using metadata to provide the information.

A suitable means of associating a dictionary or other such resource
with content would be valuable here. Of course it probably wouldn't
apply to all technologies, but at least for XML-based formats
there should be room for standard solutions that user agents can
implement.

Comments? Criticisms? Suggestions?

Jason.
Received on Friday, 19 March 2004 05:07:57 UTC

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