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Re: A few thoughts on using dynamic web pages to improve

From: Leonard R. Kasday <kasday@acm.org>
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1999 11:09:48 -0500
Message-Id: <3.0.32.19991115102005.0077b8b0@pop3.concentric.net>
To: Scott Luebking <phoenixl@netcom.com>, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Hi Scott,

Thank for the extra example. I just want to check one thing to preempt any
misunderstanding.  Even though you offer a page with alternate layout and
other changes to make browsing more efficient with screenreaders, you still
make the default page "accessible" in the conventional sense, right? 

For example, the default page would still satisfy the web accessibility
guidelines... alt text, table reading order, etc.   It's just that the
alternate page would be more efficient to use.

As for the details...

1. It does seem useful to have an alternate layout where the section of
links and references come at the end instead of the beginning.  It might
also be useful to have a link at the start of the page to jump to that section

2. You speak of leaving out decorative images, but why not accomplish that
by simply having null alt text?  A ha.  Reading further down, you speak of
the need to have as much text on the screen as possible. Omitting the
images accomplishes that.   I assume that applies to browser/screenreader
setups which are limited to reading what's literally visible on the screen.
 That problem will go away when all setups have access to all text in the
logical window regardless of what's visible... at least for people using
screenreaders.

However, it will still help people with low vision it seems to me to not
have screen real estate used up with decoration.

That is indeed a very interesting point.

3. You mention that an alternate format makes it easier to flow the text
equivalent of the image into the text.  Good point.  I sometimes go a bit
crazy trying to figure out ALT text for a picture so that it all reads
smoothly within the text.


Some of what you're talking about could be accomplished by post-processing
an existing web page (e.g. 1 and 2 but probably not 3).  More food for
thought for the Evaluation and Tools Group.

Len

At 08:30 AM 11/13/99 -0800, Scott Luebking wrote:
>Hi, Len
>
>I believe that dynamically generated pages could better handle pages
>where a left column contains links and reference information and a
>column to the right of that contains text.  The screen readers which can
>read a column at a time will read all that stuff in the left column
>first.  Then it reads the column with the text and then the right column
>which probably has more links.  This reading order is not most optimal
>for blind users.
>
>Decorative images can be left out since they can be distracting to blind
>users with little useful information.  Informational images might be
>better handled by having alert boxes which have a long description which
>can be accessed on demand.  Or, having a section towards the end with
>the various image descriptions.
>
>If the page is from a catalog where description is important, the
>dynamically generated web page could have a detailed description of the coat
>instead of an image on pages for sighted people.  The description should
>be integrated into the text flow for easier reading.
>
>Sighted users tend to not like text compressed together.  More
>whitespace is preferred.  Blind often like more compressed text on the
>screen since they have to interact with their screen reader less
>(depending on the screen reader).  I've had requests to use smaller fonts
>since that puts more text in the window.
>
>My impression is that the fewer of these "speed bumps" which cause
>distraction in reading, the easier it is for blind users.  It might
>be helpful to try some experiments.
>
>Scott
>

-------
Leonard R. Kasday, Ph.D.
Institute on Disabilities/UAP, and
Department of Electrical Engineering
Temple University

Ritter Hall Annex, Room 423, Philadelphia, PA 19122
kasday@acm.org        
(215) 204-2247 (voice)
(800) 750-7428 (TTY)
Received on Monday, 15 November 1999 11:06:56 GMT

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