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Re: D-link and LONGDESC (GL type stuff)

From: Geoff Freed <Geoff_Freed@wgbh.org>
Date: 27 Apr 1998 09:45:34 -0400
Message-ID: <n1318451882.21373@wgbh.org>
To: "Kynn Bartlett" <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>, "R. Dolloff" <averil@concentric.net>
Cc: "charlesn@sunrise.srl.rmit.edu.a" <charlesn@sunrise.srl.rmit.edu.au>, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
        Reply to:   RE>>D-link and LONGDESC (GL type stuff)

I've been away for a few days, so forgive me for jumping in a little late with my comments.

Kynn Bartlett says...
>I personally don't like the D-link approach.  I agree that the
>functionality should be there, somehow, but the ideas of little
>D's next to each graphic is not only unappealing, but very
>counter-intuitive and thus not useful for most people.  (Blind
>people, last time I checked, were not automatically issued hand-
>books that day "D-links describe the graphics which you can't
>see", no more than sighted people.)

GF:
The D-link was developed by WGBH and NCAM as a solution to the problem of how to make images more accessible to blind or visually impaired Web users.  It wasn't meant to be the definitive solution, especially since it meant that designers would have to alter their page design somewhat to accommodate it.  It was a quick, effective solution to a problem that need to be addressed immediately.  Personally, I would prefer not to have to stick little Ds all over my page, either, which is why I prefer the LONGDESC solution.  But LONGDESC was not an alternative three years ago (when D-links were introduced) and it still can't be used today, which is why I still advocate for D-links as a *temporary* solution until LONGDESC can be, or is, implemented.  

As for the question of educating people about D-links and/or LONGDESC:  You're right-- no one, blind or otherwise, is issued instructions on how to use these features.  Twenty-eight years ago, no one knew what captions were, either, and up until 1990 no one had heard of video descriptions for television programs.  People learned about them through outreach and advocacy, which is why the WAI created the EO group-- to teach people what access technology can do for them.  Given the pace of development on the Web, though, it will take substantially less time for descriptions, captions and other access features to catch on with the public.  But it *will* still take time.


So how do you educate the public?  NCAM has long supported the use of "Access Instructions," available via hyperlink at the top of a home page, which describes the access features built into a Web site.  This is where we tell visitors what alt-text tags and D-links are.  Later, this is where we'll tell people what LONGDESC is and how to use it.  For an example of such instructions, see the Arthur Web site at www.pbs.org/Arthur, or the WGBH Web site at www.wgbh.org.  You're welcome to use these instructions as a template for your own, too, so pilfer and plagiarize as necessary. 

KB:
>D-links and other accessibility considerations that cause
>too much interference with what a web designer would like
>to create do _not_ help our cause -- they only drive people
>away from accessibility.

>For this reason, I will use LONGDESC -- even though no web
>browsers yet use it -- and not use D-links.  I'm all for the
>idea, but I'm very against the D-link method.

GF:
Again, I agree that LONGDESC is a better solution than the D-link-- but it's unsupported by browsers right now, so using only LONGDESC is counterproductive, no?  You're supplying the description yet no one can use it.  And when LONGDESC is finally implemented not everyone will immediately start using the browsers that support it.  Thus, it would behoove all designers to use both LONGDESC and the D-link for a period of time.  How long?  That might be something for the WAI to suggest.  You can draw a parallel to the implementation of advanced NTSC captioning features a few years:  the old features weren't suddenly dropped in favor of the new; rather, they were phased out gradually (actually, they are STILL being phased out).

Geoff Freed
Project Manager, Web Access Project
CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media
WGBH Educational Foundation
geoff_freed@wgbh.org



--------------------------------------
Date: 4/23/98 11:11 PM
To: Geoff Freed
From: Kynn Bartlett
At 06:15 p.m. 04/23/98 -0500, R. Dolloff wrote:
>Just out of curiosity, where do you propose the general web audience
>becomes educated as to understanding a D-link, whether or not they have
>need of the link themselves? Please answer privately if this is not germane
>to public discussion.

I should point out that I've been using and creating for the web
for years, but until I read the WAI guidelines and joined this
list, I'd never _heard_ of a "D-link".  And I'm a pretty well-
informed guy when it comes to HTML and web design.

I personally don't like the D-link approach.  I agree that the
functionality should be there, somehow, but the ideas of little
D's next to each graphic is not only unappealing, but very
counter-intuitive and thus not useful for most people.  (Blind
people, last time I checked, were not automatically issued hand-
books that day "D-links describe the graphics which you can't
see", no more than sighted people.)

Especially with an 'official way' to do D-link equivalents --
LONGDESC -- the current method of implementing D-links seems
both cludgy and not "forward-compatible".

If you tell web designers, "in other to make your web pages
accessible, you have to use these little ugly things that
you can't really design around/for easily" -- you're _not_
going to see accessible pages with D-links.  You're going to
see a lot of web designers saying "accessibility is a crock;
I can either look good to 98% of my audience, or I can look
like crap to 98% of them and please that 2%".

D-links and other accessibility considerations that cause
too much interference with what a web designer would like
to create do _not_ help our cause -- they only drive people
away from accessibility.

For this reason, I will use LONGDESC -- even though no web
browsers yet use it -- and not use D-links.  I'm all for the
idea, but I'm very against the D-link method.

--
Kynn Bartlett <kynn@hwg.org>
Governing Board Member, HTML Writers Guild
http://www.hwg.org
Education and Outreach working group member,
  Web Accessibility Initiative
http://www.w3.org/WAI/


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