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

From: Leonard R. Kasday <kasday@acm.org>
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 1999 13:25:19 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>, Scott Luebking <phoenixl@netcom.com>
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

Regarding your example of the letters "GROWTH" laid out starting in the
lower left and traveling up and to the right.  You're asserting I believe
that it would be hard to use tables in such a way that it linearizes to g r
o w t h.  Indeed, if all you did was lay out these 7 letters in a 7 by 7
row they would get read out backwards.  But it's pretty easy to make them
read correctly.  See


I agree with Charles by the way that if all you're trying to do is create a
visual effect then an image would be better, with alt text description.
However, we can still look at your example as an abstract challenge, which
is what I did.

I don't understand the Z example.


  At 07:21 PM 11/17/99 -0500, Charles McCathieNevile wrote:
>There are some things that cannot be currently done accessibly. For those
>things there are a few alternatives:
>  1. Just don't. Consider whether something is really necessary, as well as
>how it will appear. In addition, consider waiting for better technology, and
>using it when it becomes available. Scalable Vector Graphics makes it easy to
>achieve such effects in a form that will linearise perfectly well, containing
>plain text that can be searched, selected, retrieved by search engines and
>other metadata harvesters, etc.
>  2. Use the best technology available. To make the word growth travel
>diagonally up the page will break down in all kinds of situations. If it is
>really necessary, the best solution may be to use an image, or a cascade of
>object elements.
>  3. Make a separate version. Unless you make it very obvious that there is
>another version, and that it is up to date, this is not worth considering,
>but as a last resort it is better than nothing. However, in the case where
>this is the chosen approach, don't just amke a "text-only" version. There are
>many features of accessible design that go beyond text, and many features of
>ordianry design that are easy to use and valuable in an accessible version -
>images, structure, well-designed actve elements, etc etc.
>Charles McCN
>On Wed, 17 Nov 1999, Scott Luebking wrote:
>  Hi, Len
>  I believe that the thread on tables may not be finished yet.
>  The issue of tables has a lot to do with positioning text
>  and also with color backgrounds.  For example, if there is a left column
>  index and a main column with header and body, the column index is read
>  first.  Nested tables for alinging blocks of colors in certain
>  ways in a column is another problem.  Because there can be so
>  many ways to use areas of color on a web page to create a certain
>  design effect, I would be careful not to make the assumption that
>  linearization is always readily achievable, e.g.:
>  		          H    
>  		        T      
>  		      W        
>  		    O          
>  		  R            
>  		G              
>  (For screen reader users, this is the word "GROWTH" with the letters
>  starting at the lower left corner and going towards the upper right.)
>  		Z Z Z Z Z Z Z                 
>  		          Z                   
>  		        Z                     
>  		      Z                       
>  		    Z                         
>  		  Z                           
>  		Z Z Z Z Z Z Z                 
>  (This is a Z, made up of a lot of Z's.)
>  I'm not saying that default page should be impossible to use, but that
>  in a trade-off between visual appearance and visual accessibility, it
>  will be hard for designers to give up visual appearance.
>  Scott
>  > 
>  > OK, we agree that giving a choice is desirable... although we might
>  > 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
>  > 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
>  > and text field in their own table cell, with a break <BR> in between.
>  > 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
>  > 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
>--Charles McCathieNevile            mailto:charles@w3.org
>phone: +1 617 258 0992   http://www.w3.org/People/Charles
>W3C Web Accessibility Initiative    http://www.w3.org/WAI
>MIT/LCS  -  545 Technology sq., Cambridge MA, 02139,  USA
Leonard R. Kasday, Ph.D.
Institute on Disabilities/UAP, and
Department of Electrical Engineering

Temple University
423 Ritter Annex, Philadelphia, PA 19122
(215) 204-2247 (voice)
(800) 750-7428 (TTY)
Received on Thursday, 18 November 1999 13:21:55 UTC

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