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RE: Validation as test for basic accessibility

From: Leonard R. Kasday <kasday@acm.org>
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 10:39:30 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: <webmaster@dors.sailorsite.net>, "Kynn Bartlett" <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>
Cc: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
I also heartily agree that it would be valuable to push html4.   However...

OK, lets say that at the present time, there's a correlation between HTML4 
and accessibility.  But I would guess that's much of the correlation is 
likely due to the fact that designers that care about one tend to care 
about the other.

And once designers are doing HTML4 in response to an external command, I'm 
afraid that latter source of correlation will drop.

For example, if all we ask for is HTML4 compliance, some bright page 
designers may realize they can just run it though tidy 
http://www.w3.org/People/Raggett/tidy/  with the "alt-text" option to 
insert a default alt tag.  In doing this they would be ignoring Dave's very 
clear and strong warning, viz.

alt-text: string
               This allows you to set the default alt text for img 
attributes. This feature is dangerous
               as it suppresses further accessibility warnings. YOU ARE 
               THE IMAGES

But I'm really afraid that if all we do is ask for HTML4 some clown out 
there is gonna just do this workaround, or some equivalent 
thing.  Especially if the clown is the only one who sees this warning, and 
the clown's boss is just requiring HTML4.

(No offense intended to actual clowns BTW).

Like I say, I do support Bruce's point that HTML4 would be valuable.  But 
it's got to be followed by using html4 as a toe in the door to get explicit 
accessibility in there.


At 08:24 AM 1/19/00 -0500, Bruce Bailey wrote:
>I am not trying to argue that validity == accessible.
>I am guessing that, in actual practice, any author or organization which
>bothers to routinely publish only valid code is also publishing accessible
>code -- even if they are not making a point to do the latter!
>You have provided very succinct proof that valid code can have quite
>significant accessibility problems, I don't debate that argument!  What I
>question is if these theoretic potential problems arise on live sites.  Is
>anyone actually posting code fragments of the type you cite in finished and
>valid pages?
>My point is that we might get more mileage promoting validity than
>accessibility.  We would still be working to achieve the goal of universal
>design!  There are simple binary tests for validity.  This is very important
>for amateur authors and less-than-technically minded bureaucrats who are
>charged with enforcing policies.  Obstinate authors have a hard time arguing
>against the merits of validity, even as they doubt the need for
>accessibility.  Once someone has acknowledged the importance of writing
>platform-independent standards-compliant code, making the pitch to include
>accessibility accommodations is an easy sell.
>I don't think we should give up advocating for accessibility.  I do wonder
>if our arsenal includes powerful weapons that we are not taking proper
>advantage of.
>Please cite an actual working URL where the pages are valid, but violate
>Priority 1 checkpoints of the WCAG.
>-- Bruce
> > -----Original Message-----
> >
> > I think I am missing your point.  What is the point you're trying
> > to make or prove?
> >
> > --
> > Kynn Bartlett                                    mailto:kynn@hwg.org
> > President, HTML Writers Guild                    http://www.hwg.org/
> > AWARE Center Director                          http://aware.hwg.org/

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 Wednesday, 19 January 2000 12:14:12 UTC

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