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RE: Javascript alternatives not necessary?

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.its.unimelb.edu.au>
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 2004 18:22:04 +1000
Message-ID: <16640.51884.592144.435188@jdc.local>
To: "Lee Roberts" <leeroberts@roserockdesign.com>
Cc: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

Lee Roberts writes:
 > We had this problem solved ages ago until some how the two
 > items I quessed about were removed.
 > *	supported in multiple, independently-developed
 > implementations of the browsers, user agents, and
 > assistive technologies.
 > *	supported across multiple operating system
 > platforms (i.e., Microsoft, Macintosh, or Unix - not
 > Win98/2000/XP)
 > When Jason and I originally proposed this we had the
 > requirement that the accessibility features must be
 > supported in at least one prior version of the AT being
 > supported.

At the outset, it should be pointed out that I strongly favour the
design of Web content that can be used across a variety of operating
systems and which is non-discriminatory in that sense. For this reason
I support technologies backed by open specifications which are freely
implementable, and I oppose closed, proprietary systems. In particular
I am opposed to the use of proprietary content formats that are designed or
intended to lock users into a particular vendor's products.

So much for where my politics lie, just for the record. I would also be concerned
if any W3C document such as WCAG were in any way to discourage the use
of open and standards-based technologies.

Now to the accessibility-related arguments. The basic premise appears
to have been that people shouldn't be required to change operating
systems in order to access particular Web content and that the costs
of such a change disproportionately affect people using assistive
technologies due to the costs that may be incurred. This is a valid
point, but on the other hand, users should also be encouraged to
upgrade their hardware and software, which can also be expensive
(though not necessarily as expensive) as changing operating systems.

As an example, if I were to switch to MS-Windows, I would have to pay
for the operating system itself together with a screen reader, then
learn the Windows environment.

Similar economic arguments have been cited against requiring users to
upgrade to the latest version of a proprietary product, hence the "one
prior version" idea.

The other argument is that formats built on published
specifications, precisely due to the review which these attract, tend
to offer better accessibility features and can be read directly by
assistive technologies. For example there are apparently XSLT style
sheets that will give a textual rendering of an SVG graphic, which
could not have been independently developed were SVG a closed,
proprietary format.

I think these accessibility-related arguments carry some weight, but admittedly they are
somewhat indirect. 

 > SMIL is a standard that works across AT and operating
 > systems.  That would be accessible.

So is SVG.

 > We need the requirements mentioned above back in the
 > guidelines.  Otherwise we will always have this problem.

I think the guidelines should encourage the use of open technologies
as characterized above, for the reasons mentioned. However I doubt
this can be a level 1 conformance requirement because I can in
principle design a new content format, create various assistive
technologies for it and thereby make it accessible to a broad variety
of users. Since the guidelines are primarily about accessibility,
there is no principled reason why content written in my wonderful new
hypothetical technology shouldn't qualify for conformance.
Received on Friday, 23 July 2004 04:22:47 UTC

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