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

From: Leonard R. Kasday <kasday@acm.org>
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 1999 09:24:05 -0500
Message-Id: <3.0.32.19991116172555.00773f84@pop3.concentric.net>
To: Scott Luebking <phoenixl@netcom.com>, phoenixl@netcom.com, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Hi Scott,

OK, we agree that giving a choice is desirable... although we might differ
on how desirable.  I'd also agree that we can't ignore how much effort it
will be for a webmaster.

As for your assertion that

>layouts using tables probably won't transform very easily into a more
>linearized form. 

Another thread just popped up on on this list re problems with tables and
other folks are discussing various experiences with tables. We're seeing
different view there.

My view is that it's not hard to avoid the table linearizing as gibberish,
although you do have to use a few tricks.  For example, if you want a
layout with several text fields in a row and you want the names on top of
the text fields, you can't just put names in a row above the text fields.
If you did that a screen reader would read all the names and then present
all the fields.  A real mess. But in this case you can easily put each name
and text field in their own table cell, with a break <BR> in between.  That
gets the reading order correct.

Of course, I'm assuming that the browser or browser screenreader is reads
the table in the order it appears in the HTML.  This is true of text or
voice browsers like lynx, pwwebspeak, emacs/w3, and home page reader, as
well as graphical browsers-screenreader combinations which linearize
tables, like internet explorer and jaws with the reformat command. 

Now, that doesn't always put the items in the order that yields maximal
efficiency. In fact, it can be rather messy... e.g. users hear the main
menu links, the title, some of the links again (when they are featured in a
center splash image) etc. I agree that it could be made better on a
separate page with different format.  

So yes, I've said it before and I'll say it again, would indeed be valuable
to have alternative versions of the page which are easier to read in an
efficient manner.

But my point is that I still feel that even the default page should at
least avoid gibberish and not be completely impossible to use.

Is there an example you can give where it's really tough to avoid
gibberish... an example that would come up commonly?

Or if anyone else out there has a good example please post it up on the list.

Len



At 09:49 AM 11/16/99 -0800, Scott Luebking wrote:
>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.
>
>Scott
>
>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.

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

Temple University
423 Ritter Annex, Philadelphia, PA 19122
kasday@acm.org   
     
(215) 204-2247 (voice)
(800) 750-7428 (TTY)
Received on Wednesday, 17 November 1999 09:20:45 GMT

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