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Re: An elaboration of why plain text is still needed as an alternate format

From: Jamal Mazrui <empower@smart.net>
Date: Wed, 09 Dec 1998 10:06:58 +0400
Message-Id: <199812091406.JAA28591@gemini.smart.net>
To: <bbailey@clark.net>
CC: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Thanks for adding your perspective to this discussion.
I agree that IE 3.02 presently provides efficient HTML access with the
Winvision 97 screen reader, though not any other reliably.  It is a
temporary niche solution, but not a generally satisfactory one.  It does not
and will not support the latest web standards including HTML 4, and 
therefore, is becoming obsolete.  We need to have browsers that are 
developed to meet evolving Internet standards, so the version to judge by
is IE4, which came out over a year ago and is still not accessible with most
screen readers.

It is unrealistic to expect the average user to do the complex setup
required of Windows Lynx 32.
It still has keyboard conflicts with most screen readers.  Lynx also does not
support and is unlikely to support the latest web standards.

I do use Unix Lynx and if shell accounts were not a dying market choice, I
would encourage more computer novices to learn it.

I agree that we should encourage computer literacy among blind people.  The
level of literacy currently required, however, to efficiently use current
graphical browsers is a bit much for a non-techie.  

Regards,
Jamal

On 1998-12-08 bbailey@clark.net said:
   NCC: Jamal Mazrui <empower@smart.net>
   N--------------58CD144037822B4EF7628AF0
   NContent-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
   NI am familiar with screen readers and internet browsing.  I
   Ndisagree with Jamal's very first statement (and thus the premise he
   Nis working from).  I am hoping he will elaborate on:
   N> There is not yet a Windows based HTML browser that provides
   N>efficient access to  most screen readers.
   NWhat is wrong (i.e., non-efficient) with IE 3.02, NN 2.02 or 3.04
   Nor Lynx 2.8?
   N> People with disabilities are often economically poor and not able
   N>to keep up with  the latest
   N> hardware requirements.
   NWith Henter Joyce giving away JAWS for DOS, I think consideration
   Nof the sub $200 PC market is quite relevant.  Free dial-up
   Ntext-only access to the 'net via Lynx (running on a remote server)
   Nwould be the status quo for this market.
   N> It has been suggested that, even if one does not use a
   N>contemporary graphical  browser, it is a trivial matter to use one
   N>to produce a good plain text rendering  of the HTML page.
   NIt has been suggested that this is a trivial matter with graphical
   Nbrowsers too.
   N> Unfortunately, I have not found this to be the case.
   NThe problems Jamal describes are not consistent with my own
   Nexperience.  (Aside from desiring nested documents to be available
   Nas a single file, which is a different issue altogether.)  What is
   Nwrong with the way Lynx saves html documents as plain text on the
   Nlocal drive?
   N> This further indicates that rendering good plain text is a
   N>nontrivial matter  which should not be assumed practical for the
   Naverage user.
   NI would contend that computer literacy is a requirement for anyone
   N(for economic reasons or whatever) who is using a DOS-based machine.
   NOperation of Lynx via telnet using a telecommunications package
   N(like Procomm Plus or whatever) certainly falls within the required
   Nskill set.  Use of the the HTMLSTRIP utility Jamal recommends would
   Nnot be difficult for such users, but not required.
   N--------------58CD144037822B4EF7628AF0
   NContent-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
   N<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">
   N<HTML>
   N<TT>I am familiar with screen readers and internet browsing.&nbsp;
   NI disagree with Jamal's very first statement (and thus the premise
   Nhe is working from).&nbsp; I am hoping he will elaborate on:</TT>
   N<BLOCKQUOTE TYPE=CITE>There is not yet a Windows based HTML browser
   Nthat provides efficient access to most screen readers.</BLOCKQUOTE>
   N<TT>What is wrong (i.e., non-efficient) with IE 3.02, NN 2.02 or 3.
   N04 or Lynx 2.8?</TT>
   N<BLOCKQUOTE TYPE=CITE>People with disabilities are often
   Neconomically poor and not able to keep up with the latest
   N<BR>hardware requirements.</BLOCKQUOTE>
   N<TT>With Henter Joyce giving away JAWS for DOS, I think
   Nconsideration of the sub $200 PC market is quite relevant.&nbsp;
   NFree dial-up text-only access to the 'net via Lynx (running on a
   Nremote server) would be the status quo for this market.</TT>
   N<BLOCKQUOTE TYPE=CITE>It has been suggested that, even if one does
   Nnot use a contemporary graphical browser, it is a trivial matter to
   Nuse one to produce a good plain text rendering of the HTML page.
   N</BLOCKQUOTE> <TT>It has been suggested that this is a trivial
   Nmatter with graphical browsers too.</TT>
   N<BLOCKQUOTE TYPE=CITE>Unfortunately, I have not found this to be
   Nthe case.</BLOCKQUOTE> <TT>The problems Jamal describes are not
   Nconsistent with my own experience.&nbsp; (Aside from desiring
   Nnested documents to be available as a single file, which is a
   Ndifferent issue altogether.)&nbsp; What is wrong with the way Lynx
   Nsaves html documents as plain text on the local drive?</TT>
   N<BLOCKQUOTE TYPE=CITE>This further indicates that rendering good
   Nplain text is a nontrivial matter which should not be assumed
   Npractical for the average user.</BLOCKQUOTE> <TT>I would contend
   Nthat computer literacy is a requirement for anyone (for economic
   Nreasons or whatever) who is using a DOS-based machine.&nbsp;
   NOperation of Lynx via telnet using a telecommunications package
   N(like Procomm Plus or whatever) certainly falls within the required
   Nskill set.&nbsp; Use of the the HTMLSTRIP utility Jamal recommends
   Nwould not be difficult for such users, but not required.
   N</TT></HTML> --------------58CD144037822B4EF7628AF0--

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Received on Wednesday, 9 December 1998 09:07:13 GMT

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