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Re: Accessibility, discrimination, and WCAG 2.0

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2000 07:51:35 +0100 (BST)
Message-Id: <200010240651.HAA12062@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
> Most mailing lists require (or at least suggest) the use of plain text.
> There are sound reasons for this wrt accessibility. But to make these posts
> more understandable, wouldn't HTML email be better? Then we could include

Most HTML email client produce HTML that is only designed to produce
a rich text effect (at one stage, I believe, Outlook worked with HTML
but not the official MIME rich text format!).  As such, it tends to
represent the personality of the author much more than the structure
of the content.  Unstructured HTML is very common on the web, but even
more common in email.  Choice of body text font, background textures, and
ornate "signatures" are the most common results of HTML email.  I don't
think I've ever seen an embedded image, and the de facto standard user
agent (Outlook) makes them difficult to do, if they can be done at all.

Also, mailing lists tend to be fairly spontaneous things.  Doing HTML
properly means creating a proper outline for the article, etc.  It is
actually not that uncommon to find HTML email with absolutely no markup
that wasn't in the plain text version.  If one took it to the extreme,
requiring a carefully constructed article would discriminate against
anyone not paid to discuss accessibility or sell related products or
services.  I've actually moved handling this list to home because it
was taking too much time.

The typical way that business correspondence handles the case of a
more formal email is to attach a Microsoft Word document containing the
main message.  But I don't think mailing lists should be that formal,
and MS Word is proprietory, and in its latest versions, a closed format.

I do note though that an increasing number of people seem to expect
email to be written in the style of a formal business letter, with
proper salutations in the body, etc.  Personally I think that this is
losing its role as an intermediate stage between spoken communication
and formal writing.
Received on Tuesday, 24 October 2000 02:52:02 GMT

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