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Alternate text channel vs. single one with universal design [subject renamed]

From: Jamal Mazrui <empower@smart.net>
Date: Tue, 06 Apr 1999 10:25:21 -0600
Message-Id: <199904041331.JAA25989@gemini.smart.net>
To: <telecom-l@trace.wisc.edu>
CC: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
I think that a single set of pages using principles of universal design is
superior to separate navigation channels for graphics versus text pages of a
site.  I appreciate that a site manager cares enough to attend to the needs
of text users, but worry that it also sends the message that one has to
practically double one's work in maintaing a web site by developing an
alternate text channel.  With the accessibility advancements being adopted
by user agents of the Internet, I think we are generally able to navigate a
site that implements W3C universal design (including text descriptions of
graphics where needed).  I also find that alternate text channels tend to be
kept less up to date than their graphical counterparts, and I'd rather make
sure I was getting the most current content of a site -- so I tend to follow
the graphical -- or at least the default -- navigation path whenever
possible.

Regards,
Jamal

On 1999-04-02 telecom-l@trace.wisc.edu said:
   Steve,
   I am unsure what is the purpose and the expected results that we
   will attain from a letter like this.  Sending it on to the ISP
   accomplishes what?
   I also have some problems in the author's attempt to say that a web
   site should also display a text version of the information in order
   to be accessible. This is not completely true.  If you design a web
   site properly with accessibility in mind from the beginning, you
   can display a web page that is both astehtically inovative in
   presenting the information, but is also accessible.
   A third issue is in the deployment and use of older technology
   which some portion of the population segment for PWD refuse to give
   up.  Providing backwards compatability to such things as text only
   browsers will not only inhibit the progressive thinking in an
   entraprenurial spirit, but will also lead to limitations in
   accessiblity.  A good example of this is video streaming through
   the web.  You need to have a windows based graphical browser in
   order to receive the video stream.  By saying that you will lnot
   use this type of browswer because you have difficulty in its
   operation and/or the understanding of how the GUI works will limit
   the individuals opportunity to receive and process information over
   the web. I have a personal stake in this.  As I spoke to you out at
   CSUN, I have started a new businees, called the "Able Channel".
   Our mission is to empower people with the opportunity to share
   knowledge so that they can make value-added decisions that will
   help improve the quality of their lives.  Our vision is to be the
   central repository on the web to store information about activities,
   assistive technologies and general info concerned about and for
   individuals with disabilities, however, we will present the
   information through the web via an accessible video format, i.e.
   audio described and closed captioned videos. Based upon this letter,
   I will be forced to put a text based version of the site for
   individuals using screen readers.  How will the video be displayed
   through a text only version?  Answer, it won't, therefore, PWD will
   ot gain any benefit from this type of deployment.  However, I have
   taken great care to ensure that the web site and all subsequent
   pages are designed in accordance with standards proposed by the WAI
   committe. Hopefully, you can see my point, I can't help someone who
   refuses to accept any help, but wants to force me into doing
   something that really doesn't bring any value to a product or
   service.
   In any case, I will get off my soap box here and again ask you whom
   in our company should be signing this letter and is it being sent
   to the right people? What are the expectations of sending this on
   to the ISP accross the country. Thanks.
   Jeff

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Received on Sunday, 4 April 1999 09:32:00 GMT

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