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Ideas for accessible maps?

From: Bruce Bailey <bbailey@clark.net>
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 1999 18:06:20 -0500
Message-ID: <01BF34BE.35BBE480.bbailey@clark.net>
To: "'Web Accessibility Initiative'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Cc: "'tabitha@bleujay.com'" <tabitha@bleujay.com>
Dear All,

Ignoring any other accessibility problems (for the moment) with the page at 
URL:
http://www.mdtechshowcase.com/floplan.htm
What are the techniques for making maps (in this case the indoor booth 
layout for a trade show) accessible?
I think the authors have taken a decent shot at it, but I am sure they 
would welcome constructive criticism.

The PDF, of course, is not very useful.  You can take a look yourself at 
URL:
http://access.adobe.com/perl/convertPDF.pl?url=http://www.mdtechshowcase  
.com/pdf/floorplan.pdf
Which will return booth numbers and list the names of vendors, but not any 
relationship to each other.

The Excel document I think is interesting.  Spreadsheets are, of course, in 
general considered accessible so I don't think this is a bad approach in 
and of itself.  With a screen reader, one can learn the booth numbers and 
their relationship with each other.  Each cell has been resized to be a 
perfect square, so a nice grid arrangement is presented.  The authors have 
conveyed information with color (for example a cell filled with color is 
occupied, where white is, usually but not always, vacant).  Walls are show 
by cell borders and the occasional free hand line.  All of this 
information, even if not totally invisible to the screen reader, is 
functionally useless because it is just too much work to find out what a 
cell border setting is.  More regrettably, the names of vendors are put in 
as little floating text labels.  It is not clear to me at all how one 
accesses those without a mouse, and I suspect they are effectively hidden 
from a screen reader.

But what is a better solution?
Is a fixed pitch line drawing consider accessible?
I have seen some nice embossed maps, but how does one capture that in html?
I have seen good textual descriptions of fairly complex graphs and charts, 
but a map is not nearly the same thing!
If you got them, please supply URLs that show how traditional maps have 
been made accessible.

Thank you,
Bruce
Received on Monday, 22 November 1999 07:51:08 GMT

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