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META and DESC

From: Kasday, Leonard <kasday@att.com>
Date: Thu, 23 Oct 1997 23:26:32 -0400
Message-Id: <9710240329.AA21486@hoccson.ho.att.com>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
More thoughts on giving textual descriptions of groups of element to
give blind surfers more concise, meaningful descriptions instead of a
string of elements.

As Jason suggested, Al's generalized META,

http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-hc/1997OctDec/0063.html

can indeed do the job. In fact, there's no need to define new
attributes.

For example

       <META   name="DESC"  content="Ralph holding menu in front of his
diner"  
                         TGTCLASS="sign upper_body left_hand menu
right_hand  lower_body" >

would tell the browser that the collection of objects specified by the
id's in TGTCLASS are collectively described by
the description "Ralph holding a menu in front of his diner".    In this
example, The element with id="sign" is a <P>, and the rest are images,
except for menu, which is a form with a pulldown list.


This simplifies if all the elements of the group are within a container
e.g. a table cell.  No id's are needed then.

<TD>
    <META   name="DESC"  content="Ralph holding menu in front of his
diner">
    Ralph's Diner
    <TABLE>
          [ cells holding pictures and a form for the menu ]
    <TABLE>
</TD>

Putting the META inside the container makes it apply to the rest of the
objects in the container, as explained by Al.

==========================

This would be used as follows:
The browser would have an "overview" mode in which it would simply read
the DESC when it came to this group, instead of tediously reading each
of the elements.        Of course, the user could read the elements if
s/he wanted to.

Also, groups could have nested sub-groups using this scheme.

(In other words, semantically, albeit not syntactically, it's just like
VRML.) 

So surfer could browse in a meaningful structural way, instead of just
hearing a bunch of elements. At the same time, designers could build
their pages using any combination of elements tables, etc, without
worrying about the structure of the HTML, because the browser would read
the structure defined by the META tags, not the HTML.              


Note that I added another issue in here: using "DESC" as the value of
"NAME" instead of an attribute in its own right.
This avoids changing HTML, and allows us to add LONGDESC,
FUNCTIONAL_DESC, etc also without changing HTML.  On the other hand, the
issue will re-emerge as discussion about what names' to use.  Plus it's
more to type.  We could also just add a DESC attribute.  That leaves
name and contents for future use.  I could support either way.

Anyway, if we accept Al's META proposal, no further changes are needed
syntactically: but these semantics would have to be implemented.

Len

Opinions my own, not necessarily those of my employer.

====================================
kasday@att.com         phone 732 949 2693

Leonard R. Kasday
Room 1J-316A
AT&T Laboratories
101 Crawfords Corner Rd.
Holmdel NJ 07733
Received on Thursday, 23 October 1997 23:27:11 GMT

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