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RE: QED & Marshall McLuhan

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Tue, 08 Jun 1999 13:08:29 -0400
Message-Id: <199906081703.NAA62753@relay.interim.iamworld.net>
To: Wayne Myers-Education <wayne.myers@bbc.co.uk>, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
At 04:21 PM 6/8/99 +0100, Wayne Myers-Education wrote:
>In terms of the implication that 'accommodating those with cognitive
>limitations' does not constitute 'dumbing down', I would be interested to
>know why not, except that one description uses loaded language and one
>doesn't. But it's an extremely interesting comparison. Maybe 'dumbing down'
>isn't such a bad thing in some cases. Maybe 'accommodating those with
>cognitive limitations' isn't possible in all cases. Maybe that's the point,
>and the answer lies in the middle ground, in the subset of information that
>is accessible to all regardless of cognitive ability, and in the shape and
>size of that subset.
>After all, no-one gets more than a subset of the internet anyway, regardless
>of cognitive ability.

This is a pretty good summary.  There is just one more idea I want people
to chew on.  That is that cognitive resources and disabilities are as
varied as the senses.
Effective function can often be achieved by combining the ones that work to
work around the ones that don't.

What we have found to be effective for working around localized sensory
dysfunctions is a way of webbing together different stimuli which
individually address different senses.  We can hope to get more
sophisticated in our ability to localize cognitive problems so that the web
of nexi is similarly self-healing to work around a particular problem.

The naive webmaster who says "but the Web _is_ graphic" is just suffering
from an over-simplification which is not very visible in her habitual
circle of activities.  Thinking that cognitive difficulties can be
expressed by a single dimension of dumbing down is a comparable
oversimplification.  For those without language difficulty, it is hard to
tell reality from this dangerous oversimplification.  To discover an
affordable mesh of encodings that works around most of the actual problems,
we will have to be more analytical, and discover how to isolate and work
around different kinds of dysfunction.  Cognitive function is as rich and
diverse a domain as sensory function.

Received on Tuesday, 8 June 1999 13:03:23 UTC

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