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author's sovereignty and accessibility

From: Nir Dagan <nir.dagan@econ.upf.es>
Date: Mon, 25 May 1998 01:58:09 GMT
Message-Id: <199805241702.TAA09988@darwin.upf.es>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
I think that in the long threads concerning 
seamless accesibility people forget what are 
the real goals of WAI or the authoring GL.

The WAI guidelines do not, and should not, 
tell authors whether or not they should put longdesc or 
D-links or alt="" to their snowflakes. 

Every document on the web is presented differently 
in different browsers. Always some information is lost 
when the source code is formatted.

The WAI guidelines give guideness to what information is lost
in certain enviroments, given certain markup, and suggests 
alternative methods of writing that may result in a lower loss 
of information.

Most authors who use image maps and frames 
do not want to discriminate people. They do it because 
they are ignorant and do not realize that they loose many
potential readers by using these platform/media-sensitive 

The author should decide whether his website should 
give the user a visual experience, prose, or political 

The WAI guidelines should assist the author to get his 
message, whatever it is, to the public.

An author who values the visual experience, may spend 
the appropriete resources in composing text descriptions and 
longdesc., and by doing so get the visual experience to a 
wider audience. The WAI only brings to his attention that 
the visual exprience may be provided to the visually impaired, 
and indicates the tools of doing so.

An author of children stories may choose to spend efforts in 
writing a new story about dwarfs and princesses 
or writing longdesc of the drawings of existing stories. 
The WAI only provides the author tools to assess the tradeoffs 
between different options (more stories vs. more visual experience to 
a larger audience from less stories).

The content of a website is decided by its author. Who will 
be "discriminated" may be affected by the author's writing techiques 
and style. These techniques are _his_ choice. Whether a person who 
publishes on the web considers himself an author, a designer, an information
provider etc. is his own choice. The WAI shouldn't say anything about that.

Just let the authors _understand_ what they are doing, and 
_suggest_ ways of reaching a wider audience.  Most websites can be 
improved in a way that makes all its potential readers better off. 
This proves that ignorance is the problem and not intentionally 
discriminating choices.

The cases where accessibility related choices have a tradeoff 
are very rare. For example, some users (e.g., me) may find D links 
confusing and usability reducing, some find them very helpful.
The _author_ has to make a choice here.  As long as the author has 
the full information of the different opinions in front of him 
his choice will be correct as it serves _his_ interests in 
writing his website.


Nir Dagan                            
Assistant Professor of Economics      
Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Barcelona (Spain)

email: dagan@upf.es
Website: http://www.econ.upf.es/%7Edagan/
Received on Sunday, 24 May 1998 12:56:29 UTC

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