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Re: ALT tools (was: Censorship by laziness)

From: Larry Goldberg <Larry_Goldberg@wgbh.org>
Date: 23 Jan 1998 12:12:18 -0500
Message-ID: <n1326564208.62766@wgbh.org>
To: dd@w3.org, "W3C-WAI-IG" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Cc: "Judy Brewer (W3C)" <jbrewer@w3.org>
        Reply to:   RE>ALT tools (was: Censorship by laziness)

I also don't want to be negative, but...

This seems like an awfully cumbersome technological fix to a
fairly easily solved problem in Web access.  Our experience in one-
on-one discussions with webmasters is that of all the access fixes
they're willing to deal with, remembering to include alt-text tags is the 
easiest and most readily accepted.  The proposal basically lets them off the hook
of the first thing they are willing to do.

I also think people underestimate the effort it would take to have 
a volunteer corps of people inserting tags.  There must be millions upon 
millions of tags and even those of us working in the field wouldn't be 
pleased to have to add tags to every image of every page we surfed during the day.

The proposed technology may be elegant, but it seems to me that this would 
actually result in less tags, not more.  Putting warning (if not error) 
messages in web authoring tools seems like a more productive path to work on.  

I'm also quite skeptical of any automated tagging through image recognition - 
the look of even text in graphic form on the web would likely frustrate even
the best OCR engine for the foreseeable future.  Let alone logos, photos, 
animations, etc.  Doubtful that image (or speech recognition for deaf or hard-
of-hearing people) is the likely solution.

A similar solution has been posed for adding captions and descriptions to 
multimedia on the web.  I can't imagine (my failure of imagination?) 
a volunteer corps of captioners and describers taking up the slack 
for busy or unsympathetic webmasters being the answer.  When the producer has
the video or audio clip in hand and in house is when the captioning or description
is most readily accomplished.  Quality control issues are an obvious problem as well.
Better web-based multimedia captioning and description tools would be a vast
help, and we may see some soon.

I would warn against putting alot of development time into this centralized
tagging concept where there seems to be so many tougher development tasks
at hand.  One man's opnion...

- Larry

Larry Goldberg, Director
Media Access
WGBH Educational Foundation
125 Western Ave.
Boston, MA  02134
617-492-9258 (voice/TTY)
fax 617-782-2155
Internet:  Larry_Goldberg@WGBH.org
Received on Friday, 23 January 1998 12:25:06 GMT

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