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RE: Javascript alternatives not necessary?

From: Fentress, Robert <rfentres@vt.edu>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2004 22:50:28 -0400
Message-ID: <E7BD4EDD62660F44922C0B11258FBE8F401228@fangorn.cc.vt.edu>
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>


Thank you for taking the time to give this issue some thought.

-----Original Message-----
From:	Michael Cooper [mailto:michaelc@watchfire.com]

1) There is the issue of whether a text alternative for non-text content
should be required if that content itself is accessible.

Yes.  Well-phrased.

2) Then there is the question of how widely supported the accessibility
features of a non-text format must be before the first question becomes

Yes.  That is also an issue.

Another is whether all non-text functionality can be represented adequately by text alternatives.

The second question is a tangent off the first one, but one we need to
address. Somebody pointed out that as technologies evolve, there will always
be the situation that there are new technologies that are not yet
universally supported, or whose accessibility features aren't universally
supported. So we need a stance on that in the guidelines. Separately, we
also need a position for the case of non-text technologies that are in fact
universally supported. I will leave aside the argument of which present-day
technologies (if any) may fall into that category - that is an issue we will
have to wrestle with in techniques but shouldn't impact the guidelines.

I think another issue is whether a necessary component of accessibility is that content must be cross-platform, and, if so, to what degree?  Must it work on Windows, Mac, and Linux?  How about Windows 3.1, Mac OS 7, 8, 9, DOS, Amiga?  How about Pocket PC, Palm, and Blackberry?

Related to all this is defining at what point content should be treated as an application and at what point should it be treated as web content.  Assumedly, an application program need not run on all platforms to be considered accessible, but perhaps more is expected of web content. 

Are there different standards, in terms of cross-platform and cross-user agent compatibility for web content that is general purpose versus web content for an audience that registers to access specific content and functionality after being informed of the limited subset of user agents/platforms that are supported.  For instance, what if one registers for a course that uses a particuar web application that only works on one or two browsers or platforms, but for which there are assistive technologies that make the content accessible to people with a wide variety of disabilities.  What about browser-based Intranet applications designed to only function on specifc platforms, which the organization has standardized on.  Branches of the military have standardized on IE on a PC, for instance, as a universal base for all of their browser-based applications.

A) I think members of the group will agree that non-text technologies that
are not accessible, whether for lack of accessibility features or for lack
of support for the accessibility features on some os/browser/at combinations
require text alternatives. Mainly I'm just reiterating that here, it's
already in the guidelines, but if there's disagreement about that here's a
forum to raise it.

I only agree if (1) text alternatives can provide equivalent functionality to what they are replacing, and perhaps (2) the non-text technology is not a part of a web application and that web application does not allow assistive technologies to access its content on a widely-supported platform (either one which is supported by the particular organization the application was designed for, or one which is ubiquitous in the larger community).  Perhaps an application such as that layed out in (2) could be granted some sort of diminished accessibility status, but I don't think this should preclude the resource from claiming some sort of accessibility compliance.

B) I propose that, if a non-text technology is accessible, we not require
text alternatives. I would be interested to hear if there is disagreement
with that. Otherwise I will write up a more complete proposal around that
and we can discuss the merits more completely.

Sounds good to me.

C) Then we need to struggle with a way the guidelines describe the way of
determining whether a particular non-text technology fits into category A or
B above. Some have said that the technology and its accessibility features
must be supported in all Web browsers and AT combinations before it is
considered accessible. Others have said that is an impossible standard, as
the Web is diverse and we can't control or even know about the variety of
user agents out there, and what we need is a way of saying enough user
agents support the technology and its accessibility features that most users
are covered. One response to this is that "most" is not enough and therefore
proposal B above is a non-starter, and all non-text technologies require
text alternatives. That brings us full circle to the question that started
this thread.

See the response to A, above.

Received on Thursday, 22 July 2004 22:50:43 UTC

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