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The visual Web vs. seamless accessibility (was Re: RIT - Javascript)

From: Liam Quinn <liam@htmlhelp.com>
Date: Mon, 04 May 1998 15:38:17 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
At 06:51 AM 04/05/98 -0700, William Loughborough wrote:
>LQ:: "If the page is designed to be seen, then it's not designed to be
>WL:: Whoa!  On your enhanced-designs website (for example) are some
>snowflakes and this points out one of the main bones of contention at
>the WAI face2face meetings and within the blind community.  By putting a
>null as the ALT= text you deprive the blind user from sharing with her
>sighted colleagues the *information* that "snowflakeness" is in there

LQ::  The snowflakes aren't information, at least no more than the text and
link colours are.  Should we also include a paragraph describing the
specified text and link colours?

This issue points out one of my main bones of contention with the WAI and
the blind community.  It seems that many accessibility experts and blind
users view the Web as a visual medium, and so they seek to describe Web
pages visually in the name of accessibility.  I view the Web as an
information medium, neither visual nor non-visual since the presentation is
determined chiefly by the user and her browsing environment, with
suggestions from the author.

As an author, my goal is to provide Web pages so that each user feels that
the page is designed specifically for her, regardless of her abilities and
browsing environment at the time.  If you were designing a page
specifically for an aural browser, you wouldn't include an image.  For this
reason, I wouldn't want an aural user to hear ALT text like "[Snowflake]"
or "XYZ Company Logo".

When we try to tell the aural user that "There's an image here", we're
saying that "This Web page is visual--it isn't made for you or your
browsing environment."  I want to convince the aural user, and every other
user, that the page is designed specifically for her.  This is true
accessibility and it's seamless.

>The question of whether the graphic is gratuitous has been
>decided by the author, not the user.

LQ::  Right, because the author knows whether the graphic is gratuitous or
not while the user can only guess.

Liam Quinn
Web Design Group            Enhanced Designs, Web Site Development
http://www.htmlhelp.com/    http://enhanced-designs.com/
Received on Monday, 4 May 1998 15:38:27 UTC

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