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

From: Scott Luebking <phoenixl@netcom.com>
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 09:49:12 -0800 (PST)
Message-Id: <199911161749.JAA14837@netcom.com>
To: kasday@acm.org, phoenixl@netcom.com, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Hi, Len

Basically, I would agree that a user having a choice would be
desirable.  The issue of best use of resources is a consideration.

While some aspects of accessibility could be easily incorporated into
the default web pages, some aren't.  I believe one of the most
challenging has to do with visual layout.  Given that CSS is not
standardized, it will be easier to use tables for layout.  Second,
layouts using tables probably won't transform very easily into a more
linearized form.  In this area, I think it makes  sense in a situation
where pages are generated dynamically, not to put the effort in trying
to balance off visual appearance with accessibility.  The visual
experience is so compelling that it will cause designers to often ignore
the accessibility aspects.  I believe providing for customized web pages
for blind users provides for accessibility without going against the
strong visual design current of the default page.

With regards to the issue of text-only, I believe that is more a matter
of increasing awareness in the population.  It is probably not that
dissimilar from getting the population to understand that providing
braille to accomodate is not the anwser since only 10% of blind people
read braille.


PS An interesting question, though probably philosophical, to consider is
whether blind and sighted people actually do see the same page.  Blind
people users use screen readers which affect their experience of web
pages in some significant ways.

> >I'm not clear that it is very useful to push for the same presentation for
> >sighted and blind users.  The issue is whether efficiency is more
> important or
> >communication.  
> Well like I say I'm pushing for both so user has choice of the optimally
> formatted page like the ones your talking about, or the default page with
> access features, so that people with disabilities are seeing the same page.
> I believe that your point is: given finite resources by page authors do we
> want to ask them to put in the effort to make the default page accessible
> or focus their attention on the dynamically generated page.
> I've tried to echo what I've heard, albeit in a slightly different context,
> from users who are blind.  At this point I'm going to defer to opinions
> from those users whom I'm sure we'll be hearing from directly.
> You also asked me to clarify the following:
> quote
> >    "3. Even if dynamically generated pages are really equivalent, they can
> >    "send the message" that so called "text-only" pages are needed... and
> >    promote their use where they are hand written and subject to error."
> unquote
> I'm sorry I wasn't clear.  Here's what I was trying to say.  Lets suppose
> we have a site in which there are alternative optimally formatted pages.
> The user would opt into those pages in some way.  Now suppose an average
> sighted user looks at them.  The user will see what looks like what we call
> "text-only" pages.  That could give the impression that accessibility is
> synonymous with such text-only pages.  Now, we all know the problems of
> such pages when created by hand... they get out of date, may not be
> complete, link to inaccessible pages, etc.  You are avoiding these problems
> by automatic generation.  But that's a more subtle point.  I'm concerned
> that the existance of such pages would lead the average web author to just
> go off and create the old fashioned text-only pages with all their
> attendant problems.
> If on the other hand, the default page is accessible, then you can easily
> avoid that problem, because the page on which the person selects the
> alternatate format could clearly say something like:
> quote
> Note: All default pages are accessible to people with disabilities per the
> w3c guildelines.  However, the following options are available to make
> their use more efficient to people with disabilities.  People without
> disabilities may also find some of these options attractive, especially if
> they are using older browsers or slow internet connections. 
> unquote
> You can't say that if the default pages aren't accessible.
> I want to repeat that I think what you're doing to go beyond basic
> accessibility and maximize efficiency is extremely valuable and important.
> It could make the difference between a person being able to compete or not
> compete on equal terms with non-disabled colleagues.   I just don't want to
> give up the option of conventional accessible pages in the process.
> Len
Received on Tuesday, 16 November 1999 12:49:25 UTC

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