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RE: Seamless Accessibility (was Re: your mail)

From: Liam Quinn <liam@htmlhelp.com>
Date: Fri, 22 May 1998 23:57:27 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
At 12:59 PM 23/05/98 +1000, Charles McCathieNevile wrote:
>Right now I am using a text-only connection to read my mail and browse. 
>When I come to a page designed as Liam describes, I will have no ideas 
>what that page will be like if I swap to a full PPP connection and a 
>graphical browser. Let alone knowing what the objects I cannot see are.

LQ::  First off, my model of seamless accessibility doesn't force the
concept on users.  If they want to treat the Web as a visual medium and add
seams, they can do so as long as the author provided TITLE and LONGDESC
attributes for IMG and OBJECT elements.  But I don't like to emphasize this
too much because I'd rather convince those users that life would be happier
if they didn't treat the Web as a visual medium.

When I view a page with a graphical browser, I have no idea what that page
will sound like if I switch to Emacspeak.  I have no idea what voice-family
the author specified, nor do I have a clue what auditory icons the author
suggested for various parts of the document.  I also don't care.

When I'm using a graphical browser, I don't want to be told what the page
might sound like in a foreign browsing environment.  When I'm listening to
a Web page on my not-yet-invented Web Walkman, I don't want to be told what
the page looks like in a graphical browser.  I want the content, and I want
it presented as if it were written specifically for my browsing
environment, whatever it might be.

If you browse pages that fully describe all images, you still have little
idea what that page will look like with a graphical browser.  Do you know
what font will be used?  What font size?  How wide are the margins?  What
colours are used for the background, text, and links?  If authors should
describe what their images look like so you know what to expect when
switching from text-only to graphical, then surely they should describe
other aspects of the visual Web page.

Of course they shouldn't.  They would drown the poor text-only user in so
much visual description that the content would be lost.  They would be
telling the text-only user that the page is "Best Viewed in a Graphical
Browser--Download One NOW!"  Why shouldn't the text-only user expect a page
that is optimized for the text-only browsing environment?

>This is discrimination on a massive scale.

LQ::  Taking a Web page and making it visual by describing what the images
look like is discrimination on a massive scale.  You're discriminating
against all the non-visual users who want content and don't want to be told
that they're not good enough to enjoy the full Web experience.

The Web is about content.  Diluting that content deliberately for
non-graphical users is discrimination.

>it is creating various classes of user

LQ::  No, it isn't.  It's treating everyone equally by communicating the
same content to all, with the content presented optimally for everyone's
browsing environment.  Diluting the content of Web pages for non-graphical
users does create different classes of users, though.

>not letting 
>them know if ther is something they are missing

LQ::  They're not missing anything important--they're getting all the
content.  Why don't you tell your graphical users what they're missing by
not using an aural browser?

Liam Quinn
Web Design Group            Enhanced Designs, Web Site Development
http://www.htmlhelp.com/    http://enhanced-designs.com/
Received on Friday, 22 May 1998 23:57:19 UTC

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