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Re: is accessibility "difficult"?

From: Steven McCaffrey <smccaffr@MAIL.NYSED.GOV>
Date: Wed, 20 Oct 1999 08:36:58 -0400
Message-Id: <s80d7f3d.044@mail.nysed.gov>
To: <kasday@acm.org>, <love26@gorge.net>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
"If it's a simple page, you're doing it yourself, and you have a decent
editor... even a WYSIWYG editor... accessibility is simple. ..."

"However, accessibility is time consuming if:..."

I think the approach here of breaking down the question into cases, with specifics, as Len does here, is very helpful.  I think this approach is the best for all accessibility questions at all levels.

Steven McCaffrey
Information Technology Services

>>> "Leonard R. Kasday" <kasday@acm.org> 10/19 3:58 PM >>>
In my experience, the effort to make a page accessible can range from small
large.  Graphical content--at least decorative graphical content--is the
least of it.

If it's a simple page, you're doing it yourself, and you have a decent
editor... even a WYSIWYG editor... accessibility is simple.  Mostly just
some ALT text.  Although you do have to put some reasonable effort into
wording the ALT text.  You can even use tables for layout until user agents
support positioning (Guideline 5.3).

However, accessibility is time consuming if:

1. Your page has graphics that convey real meaning, e.g. flow charts,
graphs, scientific diagrams.  This is a real issue in distance learning.

2. Your page has any non-trivial mathematics, at least until users have
access to and experience with browsers that handle MathML.

3. You have a data table with a lot of columns, at least until user agents
support HTML table extensions.  Especially if the table cell contents are
just things like "yes" and "no"  (which leaves user guessing what they
apply to).  There are ways around this, like invisible text, but they take

4. You need to publish on your web site material that was created by tools
with inadequate HTML support, so that you need to do extensive hand editing
 (e.g. Microsoft Publisher, although their support tried to help me with
it,  or anything that just produced PDF, unless the layouts were very simple).


At 08:23 AM 10/19/99 -0700, William Loughborough wrote:
>BK:: "I think it's very time-consuming and difficult to follow the
>guidelines and cater for bugs in the browsers :-("
>WL: It is very time-consuming and difficult to learn to write HTML stuff
>in the first place, particularly when you "cater for bugs". The
>incremental time added to achieve Guideline Compliance is like all our
>other learning curves, steep but invigorating. Try to remember that
>accessibility=usability and *ALL* your readers will benefit from Web
>sites that conform to accessibility guidelines.
Leonard R. Kasday, Ph.D.
Institute on Disabilities/UAP, and
Department of Electrical Engineering
Temple University

Ritter Hall Annex, Room 423, Philadelphia, PA 19122
(215) 204-2247 (voice)
(800) 750-7428 (TTY)
Received on Wednesday, 20 October 1999 08:39:07 UTC

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