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Re: Okay, is this better?

From: Chris Maden <crism@ora.com>
Date: Wed, 25 Mar 1998 12:11:00 -0500
Message-Id: <199803251711.MAA06559@geode.ora.com>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
[Suzan Dolloff]
> I received a couple of emails after my reply to your initial request
> for review suggesting this probably isn't the most appropriate
> discussion for this list.

Messages that are purely reviews of Joyce's site probably are
inappropriate.  However, a lot of good points about general
accessibility design have been raised, and messages relating to those
should be kept on the list, IMO.

> Wasn't mentioned in Bobby, but it would be nice if you included a
> text-only version of the page as well and had that link in the
> upper-left hand corner of your page so it's the very first thing
> someone encounters.

I find that a strange suggestion.  If the page is readable in Lynx (as
you note), why make yet another version?  And one without hyperlinks,
at that?  Is there anyone browsing the Web without the capability to
parse HTML?  I suppose some desparate soul may be telnet'ing to port
80 and downloading the text into a file, but that would be odd and

More importantly, suggesting that alternate file versions are
important for accessibility damages the accessibility initiative in
two ways.  First of all, if HTML is insufficient for access, then
there's no point in designing accessible HTML.  Why not go for an all-
out, rendered into GIF with JavaScript orgy?  If I need a text-only
version any way, I might as well.  Secondly, ACCESSIBILITY MUST BE
EASY.  Most people can see.  While I want my site to be visible to as
many as possible, every extra piece of work necessary moves the border
of "possible".  Making duplicate versions of every file quickly pushes
the visually challenged into the "impossible" side, especially for
large Web sites.

> Chris Maden suggested you use ALT="--------------------" or
> something like that in place of "line.gif," saying most voice
> synthesis software is programmed to ignore punctuation. Typically,
> that's true and the general default configuration, but for someone
> like me who frequents Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and encounters
> nicknames which include punctuation characters (`Avers, for example,
> or Avers^), I have to set up my software so it DOES read punctuation
> so also hear it pronounced in other applications. Quite frankly, If
> I encountered ------------ on a web page, it would annoy me, so I
> stand by the advice I give in my tutorial on creating speech- and
> text-friendly web sites by suggesting use of an empty ALT tag
> (ALT="") in this instance.

Right now, Lynx renders <hr> as a series of underscores.  Does this
bother you - does your screen reader read underscores?

The best solution, it seems to me, is <hr src="...">, which will still
render as an ordinary <hr> in Lynx.  Unfortunately, this proposal
wasn't adopted for HTML 4.0.  The second best solution seems to be
<img alt="some description _______________">.  Underscores will get in
the way of a screen reader and Lynx to exactly the same degree that
other rules do, since that's how Lynx renders <hr>s.  I was hoping
with the varying ASCII graphic versions of the line to convey more of
the author's intent, but if that's detrimental, than underscores will

<!ENTITY crism PUBLIC "-//O'Reilly//NONSGML Christopher R. Maden//EN"
"<URL>http://www.oreilly.com/people/staff/crism/ <TEL>+1.617.499.7487
<USMAIL>90 Sherman Street, Cambridge, MA 02140 USA" NDATA SGML.Geek>
Received on Wednesday, 25 March 1998 12:05:00 UTC

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