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Re: QED & Marshall McLuhan

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 03:22:28 -0400 (EDT)
To: WAI <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.10.9906140218150.14809-100000@tux.w3.org>
I don't think it is appropriate to provide a simplified, heavyweight page of
content to people wo cannot make use of it. However, I think that adding
images and multimedia to a page, and clarifying the writing, can be used to
make it comprehensible, and therefore accessible, to a wider audience, in the
same way that adding alternative content to be used in place of those images
can make it comprehensible and therefore accessible to a wider audience.

If we issued guidelines that said when discussing the Packers you need an
image of a football, a cheesehead and a field, then we would be overly
restrrictive about what we are doing. But those things are appropriate
illustrations. When I went to Wisconsin and saw them I could make sense of a
lot more written stuff, and I consider myself pretty thoroughly literate.
Somebody who recognised the symbols but was not very literate would gain in
ways precisely complementary.

The guidelines say roughly the same thing about using images and simple
language as they do about alternative content - that they should be
appropriate. That is meant to imply that the content should not be simplified
where that would cause a loss of meaning or specificity.

We can no more mandate people having an arbitrary level of cognitive ability
than we can mandate that everyone can see or hear. However it seems that
there are things we can do which will help us move towards the goal of a web
which is accessible to everybody. I may never understand Rothko, and some
people may never understand quantum mechanics. But just as words can help
someone who cannot see make some sense of a picasso or the construction of a
jet engine, images and sounds can enable someone who cannot read to make
sense of formal symbolisms, or of a jet engine (assuming they can hear, which
of course is not always the case).

cheers

Charles McCathieNevile
Received on Monday, 14 June 1999 03:22:29 GMT

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