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Re: Partially sighted Web user

Date: Fri, 01 Oct 1999 10:35:46 -0500
Message-Id: <s7f50ba5.072@EEOC.GOV>
To: JHOWELL@rnib.org.uk, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Cc: rorme@rnibedtu.demon.co.uk
It's probably not a question of fixed-width text being used, but of overall page layout. Many designers - particularly those with a print design background - design with a minimum screen size in mind. Although the width of a particular paragraph of text might not be controllable without the use of tables, you'll find many designers who use tables for just that purpose. More commonly, there might be a graphic element on the page at fault - something with a width of, say, 580 pixels (a common width for someone assuming 640x480 resolution). If this particular screen magnification system requires 440 pixels, that graphic element will force horizontal scrolling. In many (most?) cases, text will be laid out on the page to match not the current window size, but the size of the entire area, including the scrolling portion, as determined by the graphic.

The simple solution to this is to not use tables or graphic elements with a width greater than 400 pixels (leaving room for a small margin). Convincing designers of this will be nearly impossible, considering how many have already abandoned people with 640x480 resolution, or WebTV users at 544x372. The lure of a large "canvas" is too great for some people. The problem goes even deeper: advertising banners were standardized some time ago, and one of the standard sizes, most commonly seen as the top banner on a lot of sites that carry advertising, is 468x60. Sites carrying these ads will almost always present a problem on a system requiring a pixel width of 440.

Adam Guasch-Melendez
US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

>>> Julie Howell  <JHOWELL@rnib.org.uk> 10/01 8:46 AM >>>
I have been contacted by a partially sighted lady here in the UK  who is using a
particular Acorn Archimedes screen magnification system.

She is experiencing problems when trying to view some Websites.  She is
under the impression that Web designers are able to code Webpages so that
horizonal scrolling will never be necessary by users of magnification software.
Here's what she says in a messasge to me:

" Formatting.   I'm still concerned that this issue doesn't seem to be amongst
the ones you raise with designers.   Yet it's quite crucial for
anyone using screen enlargement,  like me.
I need to be able to format all text to about 50-character lines,  and a resolution
width of 440 pixels.   Do you take this into account when advising clients?
Some sites reformat automatically,  giving me line
lengths that fit my screen.   Others have a fixed
line length,  which makes me have to scroll across,
 which is very bad for my eyes :-(
Can you add automatic reformatting to your
desired parameters,  please?"

My response to this lady so far has been that I didn't believe it was possible to
fix the width of pages without the use of tables (which then causes problems for
other Net users).

Doesn't all magnification software (such as Zoomtext) require horizontal
scrolling?  Is is realistic to expect all Web designers to put text with fixed-width
tables/frames (I think not!).
Am I missing something?  Or should I advise this lady that there is nothing that
can be done to help her and she should get some new software (which she is
very reluctant to do)?

Thanks and best wishes
Julie Howell
Campaigns Officer (Access to Digital)
Received on Friday, 1 October 1999 19:31:14 UTC

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