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How to describe Flowcharts, Schematics, etc

From: <karl.hebenstreit@gsa.gov>
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 1999 14:36:27 GMT
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <OF6C1473AE.376C287C-ON852567CF.004F82DD@gsa.gov>

Has anyone worked with ALLClear?   This is a flowcharting tool I evaluated
some years ago that has a syntax for describing flowcharts. Semi-colons,
commas, and other punctuation marks denoted different flowchart symbols. If
this or some other scheme was adopted as a standard, then a
visuall-impaired person could generate flowcharts, as well as interpret
flowchart information!  Thanks, Len for providing the link to the latest
version of the software:

Karl Hebenstreit, Jr.
US General Services Administration
Center for Information Technology Accommodation

---------------------- Forwarded by Karl F. Hebenstreit Jr./MKC/CO/GSA/GOV
on 08/16/99 10:27 AM ---------------------------

From: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org> AT internet on 08/11/99 10:51 AM

To:   w3c-wai-ig@w3.org AT INTERNET@ccMTA-GEMS-MTA-01
cc:    (bcc: Karl F. Hebenstreit Jr./MKC/CO/GSA/GOV)

Subject:  How to describe Flowcharts, Schematics, etc

Most image on the web are decoration or icons with simple meanings like
"next page".  so ALT text and long descriptions are relatively

But some images convey information.  For example,

A simple linear sequence, like a flow chart with input going through a
series of processing stages to result in an output.

A tree diagram, like a  company's organization chart.

A more general diagram showing a bunch of interconnected objects, e.g. a
schematic diagram or an electronic circuit.

The most complex is a 3D machine, in motion if you want to make it even

Are there any guidelines on how to describe these diagrams?

For example, you could use lists and nested lists for linear sequences and
trees respectively.  Or you could use prose.  More general diagrams are,
well, a more general problem.   What techniques are best for what purposes
and audiences?  What's good wording, especially for prose decriptions?

I'm mainly thinking of speech output here, since that's what most blind
surfers will be using, rather than Braille or tactile graphics.

This is no doubt hard to encapsulate... at some point you just have to get
a skilled technical writer, especially for the prose versions...

Leonard R. Kasday, Ph.D.
Universal Design Engineer, Institute on Disabilities/UAP, and
Adjunct Professor, Electrical Engineering
Temple University

Ritter Hall Annex, Room 423, Philadelphia, PA 19122
(215) 204-2247 (voice)
(800) 750-7428 (TTY)
Received on Monday, 16 August 1999 10:36:30 UTC

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